3. Key Elements that Your Book Should Have
There are no hard and fast rules on how a book should be structured but there are some conventions. There are also so many different kinds of books from novels, to how-to, to children’s, to coloring that sections come and go. But here are some basics in many books.
The general structure of a book
This one stays in all books, the left hand page is an even page number, and the right hand page is an odd page number. Don’t change that.
Front Cover. The most important page for your book. And today with a huge amount of selling done on-line this is often the only part of your book your reader initially sees. Does your cover tell your book’s story? Is your title clear? Does your subtitle support the question that your book solves?
Many of our books will never be in book stores but instead on sites like Amazon and our own website. We will see them in search and in recommendations as thumbnails. A key test for your cover is to print out your book cover at about an inch wide. Can you still read at least the title? Your subtitle maybe not, but you need to be able to see the title.
I follow a philosophy of “don’t make me think” and run all my covers through this idea. You want the reader to understand the book. Harder with a fiction book, but for any business, self-help, cookbook, etc. you want to be clear. What I find with a lot of authors when I work with them on their covers is that sometimes the subtitle is really the title. Just switch them and you are fine. A key tip here is to not fall in love with your working title, it might be wrong. I usually wait until the end of the book making process and then finalize the title. Very often our working title that we have been talking about for the three years working on the book really only means something to us and very little to our audience.
Spend some time looking at books in your category. This is very easy to do on Amazon.com. There is often a common theme that runs through a particular genre. Cookbooks have pictures of the food on the front, biography’s a picture of the subject, fiction books a full cover photo or illustration, business books often the author or just text. You get the idea, see how your book fits. You can break these conventions but it is good to know where you start from.
Another test that I do is to open up a page of the competing books in my subject area. Make a thumbnail cover and drop it over the top of one of the books. Does my book stand out? Do I see it in the collection of other similar books? If yes, great. If no, then fix it.
Page 1. Title Page, repeats what is on the front cover. Often mimics the basic design of the front cover. Includes title, author name, maybe your web address and sometimes the copyright notice. With Kindle books your web address or your Amazon Author Central web address can be live links. These links can be accessed from the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon and from your Kindle reader. A great way to pull people into your funnel without them even purchasing the book.
Page 2. Left-hand page. This is the page behind the title page. This is where you put your legal and disclaimer information, including your copyright info.
Written: © Copyright, J. Bruce Jones 2018
Good place for publishing info, contact info, all that stuff.
Page 3. Right-hand page. Table of Contents, be descriptive. This is a key page. Your table of contents is your books list of benefits. You don’t want Chapter 1, Chapter 2, but you want descriptive titles that tell the story of your book. With the Amazon Look Inside feature they usually show the TOC so you want it to work for you. This could be page 5 also, it just needs to be close to the front.
Page 4. Left-hand page. Good place for intro, or acknowledgements, front matter content. Ok so here is where people differ on the order and what to include. Traditionally all of this front matter, like the intro or quotes about the author, acknowledgements were right up front. But now a huge number of books are sold on-line and we never actually pick them up. One of the major tools for promoting and marketing your book is the Amazon “Look Inside” feature. Clicking on a cover on Amazon’s sales page gets you the first few pages of the book. The problem is you don’t know how many pages you will get. With a coloring or children’s book it can be just a few. With a big novel it can be a lot.
What I like is to get the reader to my good stuff as quickly as I can. Promoting my love for my mother isn’t selling my book. That is why the Table of Contents is so important, it can sell the book, it is the book’s outline. I am mixed about all the fun quotes and drawn out intros. Get people to the good stuff. It is up to you, some of this stuff can be at the back, or on our website, or on the back cover.
Page 5. Where ever this actually falls, but Chapter 1 and you begin your book
Page 6. Back of the book. Wherever this actually falls, but usually at the back of the book. Add an author bio along with a photo and contact info. If it fits for your subject add a resource list at the back of the book, any additional info that might apply to your book. An index, or any additional information that your reader might need. If you offer programs or consulting, drop that in also, give readers a call to action.
Last page in the book. Drop in an ad for where people can buy the book, give a call to action. XYZ book is “available at Amazon.com” or “Other books by Author Name, available at Amazon”. If you have a series of books put a book catalog page with all the cover thumbnails at the back. Your reader may not know you have other books. Cross promote your books in your books. I have books that sell multiple copies to the same reader. Make it easy for your reader to recommend your book, or purchase another copy.
Back cover of the book. Remember printed books all have back covers. On Amazon we usually just look at the front cover and the Look Inside feature but the back cover is there also. Amazon usually shows the back cover in the little thumbnail images that fall just below the main book image on the book’s sales page. They also show up as one of the pages in the Look Inside section. And sometimes we actually have the book in our hands and want to turn it over and show people.
What to include on the back cover?
The title, maybe a quote of praise, a descriptive paragraph, three or four bullets pulled from the table of contents, a short bio about the author with a head shot, and your publishing info. Publishing company, website, I like repeating the copyright info here and maybe your contact info. On the right is the ISBN number bar code, usually applied by CreateSpace or IngramSpark.com.
Kindle books don’t have back covers, what do I do then? You can still put this info at the back of the book or some version of it. I would especially put a list with live links to any other of your books.Spine. If your book is over 135 pages you can add text to it. In reality over 100 for CreateSpace and 131 for CreateSpace Cover Creator, but I am using 135 pages as a general page count. You want the spine thick enough to hold the type comfortably.