Use Industry Standard Non-Fiction Book Elements

Use Industry Standard Non-Fiction Book Elements

As a self publisher, you need to meet industry standards in order to get your book recognized. Thousands of books are published every day. This means you have lots of competition. If your book appears to be sub-standard, missing elements that are required by the publishing industry, you won’t get very far in publishing.

I have seen the forums for self publishers where some authors argue that these elements are not really required. If you have read that somewhere, do not listen to it. All of the elements that are standard publishing industry are there for a reason.

Front Matter

Front Matter occurs prior to the core content of the book, and is typically arranged in this order:

  • Title page (contains title & author only)
  • Copyright page
  • Copyright Acknowledgments (for titles containing reprinted / permissioned material)
  • Dedication (if included)
  • Table of Contents
  • Foreword (if included – usually written by someone other than the author describing interaction with the author)
  • Preface (if included – by the author, it ¬†covers the story of how the book came into being, or how the idea for the book was developed)
  • Acknowledgments (if included)
  • Introduction (if included – usually¬†states the purpose and goals of the book.)

Go to a bookstore with this list, and note how these elements are included in books.

Table of Contents

Give special attention to your Table of Contents (TOC). A Table of Contents is critical for any non-fiction or how-to book – it is the map your readers use to navigate your book.

Prepare your Table of Contents(TOC) after you finish writing and editing your manuscript. List each part, section, chapter, and headings that you feel are appropriate. Many books list the title of the chapter, plus the primary heads in each chapter. Your manuscript must match the order, context, and titles of the TOC.

Body Matter

After the front matter is the body matter of your book. With nonfiction material, the book is frequently divided into Parts, Sections, and Chapters. Your Chapters should be divided into various levels of headings – usually not more than 2 or 3 levels deep. Chapters containing similar content are grouped together in Sections or Parts. A Section is a set of Chapters that are related closely, and Parts contain Sections that are related. When organizing your manuscript, it is useful to create an outline of your content and the order in which you want to present information. This will help you with organizing your body into parts, sections and chapters.

End Matter
Some books contain End Matter, which includes elements such as a Glossary, Bibliography, and/or Index. Some books contain multiple indices. Creating an index requires some skill. If you find that your book needs a rather large index, you might consider hiring someone to create that index for you.

If you design your nonfiction book to include the standard elements, you have one roadblock to getting your self-published book accepted out-of-the-way already.

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