Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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November 27, 2023

First Impressions Matter: Effective Front Pages

By Kris Maze

It is the season of NaNoWriMo, a festive writing time when writers challenge themselves to madly type away at their latest-great-idea, trying to complete 50,000 words in a manuscript. Writers devote a lot of time to plot out their story line, to build their immersive worlds, and to craft compelling characters. When finished with the first draft, there are multiple layers of revision for writers who want to see their book in print.

But jump ahead a few months, to when you have revised and edited your manuscript. Dreaming big, your book may be picked up by an agent, or you may decide to publish with a hybrid publisher, or on your own. Even if the story is superb, there are many writing tasks involved with writing the front pages of a book for publication. And those parts, even though they are only tangential to the core of the story, are important too.

Next Steps – Prepare for Publication

The pages in the front of the book matter, especially for publication, and require the same attention to detail as the beats and story arcs. In recent work with a hybrid publisher, I realized that a list of these parts of the book, their functions, and how they should look in a published book, would be useful for organizing these key book parts.

Here are the pages that occur at the beginning of the book, in the order that they should appear. Each has a quick explanation of it’s function, the type of content it typically has, and the desired page side of the book (odd pages are on the right and the even pages are on the right.) Read on for considerations for authors and how they can leverage these pages to give readers the best experience with your book possible.

Having this information ready after the manuscript is finished will speed up your publication process. Completing these pages with thought can lead to a better reader experience and more engagement with your ideal audience.

Anatomy of the First Pages of a Book

Title Page (Odd Page Number):

  1. Explanation: The title page is the opening page of your book and serves as a cover for the internal part of the book. It features the book's title, your name as the author, and may include the publisher's information or logo.
  2. Considerations: Make sure the title page is aesthetically pleasing and reflects the tone of your book. Consistency in font and design helps create a professional look.

Copyright Page (Even Page Number, Back of Title Page):

  1. Explanation: Found on the reverse side of the title page, the copyright page includes legal and bibliographic information such as copyright details, publication information, and ISBN. This is the only page in this section that has to appear on the left side of the open book.
  2. Considerations: Ensure all necessary copyright information is accurate. Include any disclaimers or permissions and consult legal professionals if needed.

Dedication (Odd Page Number):

  1. Explanation: The dedication page allows you to express gratitude or dedicate your book to someone special.
  2. Considerations: Keep the dedication concise and heartfelt. Personal touches can create a connection with readers.

Table of Contents (Usually Starts on an Odd Page):

  1. Explanation: The table of contents lists chapters and sections, aiding readers in navigating your book.
  2. Considerations: Ensure accuracy in page numbers. If it spans two pages, the second page can start on an even page. A clear and organized table of contents enhances the reader's experience.

Foreword (Or a preface):

  1. Explanation: A foreword is an introduction to your book written by someone other than you, providing additional context or perspective.
  2. Considerations: Choose someone relevant to your book's theme or genre for the foreword. A compelling foreword can generate interest in your work.

Preface (Or a foreword):

  1. Explanation: The preface is your own introduction to the book, explaining its purpose, scope, or context.
  2. Considerations: Use the preface to connect with readers, sharing insights into your writing process or motivation. Keep it concise and relevant.

Acknowledgments (Can Go in Front or Back):

  1. Explanation: Acknowledgments express gratitude to individuals or organizations that contributed to your book.
  2. Considerations: Decide whether to place acknowledgments before or after the main text. Would it be better for the reader to see which individuals and organizations supported this work before or after reading the novel? Be sincere and specific in your acknowledgments.


  1. Explanation: The introduction sets the stage for your book, providing context and preparing readers for the content to come.
  2. Considerations: Clearly outline the purpose of your book in the introduction. It's an opportunity to engage readers from the beginning and to hook them into the story.

First Text Page (Should Start on Odd/Right Page):

  1. Explanation: This is the beginning of the main content of your book, typically starting on the right-hand side for a clean layout. This is the start of the reader’s main journey and it should draw the reader in right away.
  2. Considerations: Ensure the formatting is consistent and visually appealing. A polished beginning creates a positive, intriguing first impression.

Final Considerations for Authors

Authors can use these pages to their advantage when selling books by considering the following:

  • Professionalism: A well-designed and organized front matter creates a professional impression, enhancing the overall quality of your book.
  • Reader Engagement: Elements like the foreword and introduction can capture readers' interest, encouraging them to delve into the main content and to keep turning pages.
  • Marketing: Consider using the dedication or acknowledgments to subtly acknowledge and thank readers. This personal touch can foster a connection and encourage word-of-mouth promotion.
  • Navigability: A clear table of contents and properly formatted page numbers make it easy for readers to navigate your book, enhancing their reading experience.

By paying attention to these details, authors can present a polished and engaging book that appeals to readers and contributes to its overall success. Use this list and the considerations to assist your preparation for book publication. 

Final Thoughts

What tools do you use to organize the parts of your book?  What stage is your work in progress?  Share with our readers below and encourage each other in our writing efforts.

About Kris

Kris Maze is an author, writing coach, and teacher. She has worked in education for many years and writes for various publications, including Practical Advice for Teachers of Heritage Learners of Spanish and the award-winning blog Writers in the Storm where she is also a host. You can find her horror stories and young adult writing on her website. Keep up with future projects and events by subscribing to her newsletter. And other writing work HERE.

A recovering grammarian and hopeless wanderer, Kris enjoys reading, playing violin and piano, and spending time outdoors.

And occasionally, she photographs shy mushrooms in the forest.

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10 comments on “First Impressions Matter: Effective Front Pages”

  1. This was helpful! Just what I need to know as I wind down the revision process and gear up to publish. I’ll use this as a check list! Thank you!

    1. Fantastic, Nancy! I'm happy that my somewhat stressful experience can be helpful for others.

      And congratulations on wrapping up your book. What's your book about?

      (if you want to short it out here.) 🙂

  2. Great information, Kris. Wish I had had this information when I started self-publishing. Now I use Vellum to help format my books. (It's on sale now!) But I'm not close to needing formatting with my current WIP. I'm slogging through the first draft. I'll get there but not as quickly as I'd hoped.

    1. Vellum is a really great tool. I use it for some of my work too, but I still wanted to know what exactly went into each part of those book elements.

      If it's on sale- writers might want to get it. It's so helpful for formatting a book interior.

      They have useful guides to troubleshoot common formatting issues.

  3. Thanks so much for this post, Kris. I have a list that I refer to about what goes where in a book, and it is surprising how often we get to the publication phase and none of this is ready!

    Currently I'm writing in World Anvil and generally use InDesign to put together the final product, although I'm experimenting with Atticus. My current WIP is stuck in eternal editing. I'll get past that stage, eventually!

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