Table of Contents
Most of us never think about more than the chapters in a book … until we go to write one. Then all of the sudden we have a ton of questions. What is an introduction? Where do I put the dedication? How is an acknowledgement different? Which elements of a book are absolutely necessary?
We refer to different sections of a book as “matter.” There are 3 sections: front matter, principal text and back matter which are pretty self-explanatory. However, it can be confusing which parts go where and if they’re all needed. Below, I share how I have my clients order their book, including the definition of each element. There are definitely more elements that you could include if you choose.
Ordering the Elements of a Book
1. Title Page
Your title, subtitle, your name with credentials
Did you know that a copyright page is technically not necessary? When we write something, it’s inherently already ours. However, putting in a copyright page shows the reader, or anyone who wants to quote you or use your content, that you know what your rights are. Plus it gives them a way to contact you to get permission.
Here’s a simple short template for your copyright page:
“Copyright © 2019 (Your name or your official business name) All rights reserved.
This book or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in any retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise—without prior written permission of the publisher, except as provided by United States of America copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, at “—–,” at the address below.
Visit the author’s website at —
Editing and formatting by —. Cover by —-. Used with permission.”
Wondering about copyrighting your title? Check out my YouTube video about it here: https://youtu.be/jgTLbCLrZj0
3. Table of Contents
The table of contents shares with your reader what they can expect to find inside your book and in what order. It shows what page they will find the start of each chapter. If you are creating an ebook of kindle, it’s important to make your table of contents interactive because kindles do not have page numbers, they have a location. With an interactive table of contents, when someone opens your ebook, they can immediately jump to the chapter simply by clicking on the title.
It’s good to note that some readers will leave negative reviews on your book if you do not include an interactive table of contents for kindle.
Having a foreword is not required but is nice to help you show third party endorsement of your book. It’s generally written by a well-known expert in your field
There are differing opinions on what to put in a preface. I recommend that you share your WHY STORY. It’s important to start off sharing why you decided to write your book because it’s a first impression and an opportunity for an immediate connection with your reader. Tell the reader who you were before writing the book, what your struggle was, how you overcame and where you are now.
Not sure how to put your story together? Find out the 4 critical components in my YouTube video here: https://youtu.be/qvn2U-IC9VA
Some people like to have the acknowledgement page, which is your thank you page and their dedication page separate. It’s totally up to you, however my clients and I combine both into one. You acknowledgement is where you show appreciation for people who helped you with the book or are important in your life. A dedication indicates who you wrote your book for such as the reader, your kids, your best friend, etc.
The introduction tells people how best to use your book.
You many include some or all of the following:
- Describe the book with some mystery so they’ll want to read
- Purpose of the book – what they’ll gain, how it will help them or enrich their lives
- Your reason for writing the book – how you got the idea, who influenced you
- The reason for this particular subject – interests you, your expertise, you’re intrigued with it, fascinated with the topic, you’ve had your own struggles with (and learnings)
- What’s your inspiration – why this book is meaningful to you, why now?
- Advice on how to read the book – how the book is structured, special notes on how to use the book
- Your experiences during the book writing process – revelations, incidents, humorous times
I think we all know what the chapters are but it’s good to note that my biggest recommendation is to start with your juiciest chapter. Saving the best to last in a book is not a good strategy since there will be some people who do not finish reading it. Instead, with the best chapter first, your reader will be enticed readers to keep reading. They are excited with the book right away and will scour your book for more great insights.
If you ware writing your book to grow your following and business, you absolutely must have seeding inside your chapters. This is the marketing piece that most amateur first-time writers don’t know to include. Seeding lets the reader know that you have more than just the book — that you have other ways that they can learn more from you. If you want to make more money from your book aside from royalties, don’t forget to seed your book!
If you’re not sure if you are purely an author-author or if you’re an author-entrepreneur who needs to seed their book, go HERE to find out.
Because most of my clients are entrepreneurs who want to have a book to help grow their business, I recommend having a conclusion or summary for the book. In this element, you can point out the things you want the reader to have learned from your book.
This is also a great place for upselling your reader into a product, service or program that you have. They can expand or deepen their knowledge in this way or get personalized attention from you. If you want to monetize your book, this is an important chapter not to skip.
10. About the Author
As the final element in your book, don’t forget to highlight yourself. Write in third person, give your background credentials, share something personal and fun about yourself. I recommend no more that a few short paragraphs. You can also include your website, email, and social media handles.
I’d love to hear how this helped you, if there was something that was new to you or if you have any questions — just put your comment below.
Now that you know how to structure the elements of a book, you might be wondering how you can get readers for your book. How about getting some raving fans before you’re even done writing it? I’d like to invite you to my FREE training called “How to Get Raving Fans for Your Book” happening January 17th. Just go here for more details and to sign up: bit.ly/ravingbookfans — IT’S FREE!
Vickie Gould is a book coach, content marketing strategist, best selling author, and speaker. She believes that everyone has a story to share and a journey orchestrated for their positive growth — and that those experiences should be written in a best selling book.
Vickie helps entrepreneurs to write, self-publish and leverage their own business books to share those stories, grow their following, create more impact and turn readers into clients through her Easy Writer Program, one-on-one coaching and her free Facebook Group, Write Your Biz Book.
She has written 10 best sellers such as Easy Writer (named after her signature program) and Standing in the Gap, and helped nearly 100 others to become best selling authors as well. Get her cheatsheet called 5 Secret Strategies to Write Your Book Quickly at: bit.ly/5secretstrategies.