What is Front Matter?

Hey guys! A lot of my friends are publishing or will soon be publishing indie and this is a question I get a whole lot.

What is front matter?

Front matter is the stuff that goes in the front of your book between your cover and your first page. And while that seems super straightforward, it can be a little daunting when you have to write it for yourself.

You front matter should include:

  1. Title Page
  2. Copyright
  3. Dedication (not required if you don’t want it)
  4. Acknowledgments (this can go in the back matter if you want)
  5. Table of Contents

Pro-tip: You may also want to include a blank space after the Table of Contents since your first chapter should always start on the right side.

Another-Pro-Tip: You may also want to include a blank page after the dedication considering this is where most authors choose to sign their books. (Learned this one the hard way, y’all).

FINAL-Pro-Tip: Ignore both of the previous two tips if you’re formatting for ebook. It will be different than print and you can mash that whole sucker together. Just make sure you have clear chapter breaks. Trust me, you’ll want that.

All-in-all, your finished product should look something like this (using Marjorie Diaz Book 1 as an example):

Inside cover
Copyright (don’t forget to shout out your cover designer and editor if you want)
Dedication (option, but great place to sign the book)
Table of contents
Table of contents

I included both halves of my Table of Contents because I wanted to make note here that I included my acknowledgements and About the Author at the end for the Back Matter.

This would also be where you include the name of the sequel or any other information you want your fans to know.

Hope this helps!

Writers Be Like…

Friends who don’t read: I don’t understand. Why would people hate you because of your writing?

Friends who do read: I FUCKING HATE YOU. YOU’RE A MONSTER. WHEN IS THE NEXT BOOK COMING OUT?

Friends who write: Recently I started getting death threats for my latest novel. I’ve reached the big time. I have become one of the top authors in the world. This is my big break.

Asexuality Informational/Venting Post

After writing Marjorie Diaz, my second book, I’ve run into a lot of issues with Marjorie Diaz being ace. Here are some things I’ve learned and had people say to me post-publication:

1. Nobody knows what “ace” is.

If you use the term “ace” a lot of people are like “wtf is that??” In fact, most people (INCLUDING people in the LGBT space) don’t even know what “asexuality” is. Even in California where I live, in the gayest city in the United States, I’ve had to explain that shit so much. 

2. People don’t think asexuality is real

Once I explain what ace or asexual is to people, they usually try to tell me it “isn’t real”. Like, what? Yes, it is. It is very, very real and It is 100% okay not to like sex! 

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3. People were mad I didn’t have sex in my book

I’ve had a few people get PISSED at me for not having sex in Marjorie

Like. WHEN WAS I GONNA WRITE A SEX SCENE? I literally mention in CHAPTER 1 that Marjorie is ACE (I say asexual because in my focus groups 95% of people didn’t know what “ace” was). 

There was nowhere for me to put a sex scene. A few people suggested I write a scene with Marjorie’s roommate having sex instead, but the great thing about that is the whole book is from Marjorie’s perspective. 

It’s like, you write one sex scene in a fluffy novel about nymphs and everyone believes you can write ace characters. 

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4. “I don’t believe your character is actually ace”

Like 3, this one is really Marjorie centric. 

I’ve had several people tell me to my face while reading my book that they “don’t believe Marjorie is actually ace” and oh my God I can’t even begin to tell you how much this pisses me off. 

YES. MARJORIE IS ACTUALLY ACE! 100%. SHE IS L I T E R A L L Y ASEXUAL. There is no sex or even really kissing in the book because of this. While Marjorie doesn’t mind kissing, she and Patrick never get around to that part of the relationship.

There’s a reason in book 2, but it hasn’t been revealed yet. 

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5. Ace people can’t be romantic

This is literally not even true and idk where people are getting this. Ace and Aro are two different things. Though I do think some people include Aro on the ace spectrum, the two are not mutually exclusive. 

In fact, in Marjorie Diaz, a lot of the book is about the romance between Marjorie and her chosen love interest, Patrick. There’s no kissing on the lips, but there are kisses on the cheeks, cuddling, hand-holding, etc. There’s so much fluff it’ll rot your teeth.

Yet I was still railed for not having enough romance. There are different ways of being romantic outside of sex and making out. 

I mean there’s literally a part where Patrick carries Marjorie to the subway because she has a migraine. I’m sorry you straights don’t experience cute fluff like that.

How to Format Books for Self-Publishing

Formatting might actually be worse than writing and editing and cover design. I mean that with everything in me.

Pro-tip: Before we start, you’re going to definitely want to have all your images at 300 DPI. If you don’t know how to do that, check out this tutorial.

Right now I’m gonna tell you guys a secret. I literally am only releasing my book on Kindle or on Amazon because Amazon makes it a whole hell of a lot easier to format and publish books than anything else.

Before my friend Jay showed me “de way” I was trying to use scrivener which is probably one of the most confusing programs ever. Let’s be real here, it’s a nightmare.

I personally, couldn’t figure out how to

  1. Fix my chapter headings
  2. Fix my page numbers
  3. How to get my front matter to not show up as an actually chapter
  4. How to fix my table of contents

I promise you guys, if you’re new to formatting scrivener isn’t the way to go.

Some authors swear by Vellum, but since Vellum is only for Mac users and since I’m a die-hard PC user with a custom built machine, I probably won’t be using that.

So here’s what my good bro Jay told me.

Format everything in Google Docs, download it as a docx, upload it to KDP and Amazon takes care of the rest. Literally. Amazon will format that shit for you and I 1000% recommend using Google Docs for everything.

My print book was a little more difficult, however. Since in print books you’re required to have page numbers, Google Docs won’t work for that.

See, in book writing, your page numbers should not appear on any front matter pages (things like the table of contents, title page, dedication, and copyright page).Google Docs, in its infinite wisdom will not allow you to have custom page numbers. There used to be an add-on for it, but it was taken down.

So, for print, you’re going to have to use Microsoft Word to get those page numbers right.

Also, a real quick tutorial on print. It is so much different than formatting for Kindle.

With Kindle all you need are:

  1. A front cover
  2. Your manuscript
  3. Any graphics you want to put in your manuscript
  4. Your front matter

With print, you’re going to need:

  1. A front and back cover.
  2. Your pages need to be set to the book size you chose.
  3. You can do this in word by going to Page Layout and Selecting Size, Custom Size, and setting your page size.
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  1. A whole hell of a lot of patience.

You will have to re-upload your book more than once to both KDP and Amazon Print. I promise you, there will be glaring formatting errors that you absolutely need to fix.

Pro-Tip: I’m going to save you guys a ton of time too, for Kindle DO NOT make your chapter fonts, or headings, or any of your font period larger that 18pt.

People can and will resize shit and it’ll make your formatting look like trash. So Keep it simple!

Don’t forget to buy Bloom RIGHT NOW on Amazon. It’s also available to read FOR FREE on Kindle Unlimited.