There are two ways Amazon allows buyers to preview the book.
On their website there is this “Look Inside” feature that sits on top of the book cover image.
On the kindle reader, there is a “Try a Sample” link on every book page which allows a buyer to download a part of a book on their kindle reader and preview.
I don’t know of any statistics made public which gives a metric on how many buyers preview a book before buying – offline or online. Nor do I think Amazon makes such data public.
But having seen almost every book lover browsing a book in the physical bookstore before buying, it is safe to assume the buyers must be displaying a similar behavior online.
Even if they don’t, what is the harm in making use of it since its available?
What if that one buyer wants to preview but only gets to see copyright text and acknolwedgements? Unlikely he is going to click the ‘Buy’ button.
In this article we’ll try and show how to order the content for your book’s front and back matter. Our recommendations are mainly targetted at ebooks but work for print versions too.
In this article you’ll get answers to questions like:
- What goes under front matter and why?
- What goes under back matter and why?
- How to sell more and build your list using the front and back matter?
- What other things you need to be careful of?
What goes under front matter?
These are the first few pages between the book cover and the book content.
Here we need to remember that the buyer is interested in your book’s content. So you want to be judicious with what you put under the front matter.
1. Praise for the book
Do you have quotes or praise from influencers about your book? If yes, that could be the first thing that should go under the front matter.
If you don’t. You can get one. Login to your LinkedIn account and scan your connections. Although a better strategy would’ve been to do an outreach during your writing stage within your peer group.
If you’ve been part of any self publishing groups on FB, you can try any self-published authors there.
How about your Advance group?
However, its ok if you don’t have any quotes or don’t want to do an outreach. No need killing yourself trying to do something you’re uncomfortable with.
2. Buyer Hook
A marketing jargon. Sometimes also called lead or reader magnet.
Basically it is an offer you make to an interested buyer to offer something for free, if they buy the book.
You may wonder if this is necessary? Not really, but if you are looking to increase the chances of selling your book, this is one of the best sales strategies.
The reason for this is, Reciprocity. One among the six principles discussed in this bestseller by Prof. Robert Cialdini, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
Very shortly, the reciprocity principle states that if you do something for someone, the other person subconsciously feels compelled to return the favor.
This offer could be a free download of your previous book (if you have one). Or an anthology or a collection of short stories you wrote earlier.
Anything to which a buyer thinks he is getting a better value for the purchase.
3. Table of Contents
Many novels don’t have this. But we suggest you put one together. It’s easy to insert one if you are using Microsoft Word for writing.
We know that Amazon and Apple now require a navigable ToC. Though we’re not sure about the others, but even if they don’t we recommend you include one.
For one, it gives a professional feel to someone previewing your book. Second, it helps a buyer get a sense of what is she likely to find inside, especially with non-fiction.
There are ebooks that I’ve purchased in the past that had surprisingly their ToC at the back.
A quick search on Google revealed that many scammers were trying to game the system after Amazon released the pay-per-page-read payment model for authors.
Why take the risk? Just include one.
Since Amazon displays only 10% of the book matter in “Look Inside”, this is all you need for the front matter. Let the reader get to the main content as quickly as possible.
What goes under back matter?
This should be easy. Everything that you couldn’t put in the front matter goes here. But there are a few surprises here.
1. Ask for Reviews
I read this quote somewhere sometime back, “Refusing to ask for help when you need it is refusing someone the chance to be helpful.”
The same goes for reviews. My feel is, many readers don’t leave reviews because it simply doesn’t occur to them.
Maybe if we ask them, many of them would. And that is a good thing.
Nothing fancy. A simple call to action that prompts your reader to click the link and leave a review.
In fact, you can try having one just couple of chapters before the end of the book and another immediately after the end of your book.
2. About The Author
I always go search the author on google or facebook before or after I’ve read the book. Always.
I’m sure you’ve done that too. You reader is not just buying a book. She is investing her time in you. Wow! How prophetic of me…
Its always nice to show your human side, a kind of a sneak peek into who you are, what you’ve been doing, why did you become a writer? Something.
And yes, include a nice headshot.
A sense of gratitude. No project ever comes to fruition without the power of many. We normally see this put in the front in print copies but we suggest you put this in the back.
It is important for you to acknowledge everyone who helped you get your book out of your PC and onto the store shelf. But here the dilemma is whether this should go in the front or the back.
We normally see this put in the front in print copies but we suggest you put this in the back for the simple reason that you want readers to quickly get to the main content while previewing.
Acknowledgement might have a sentimental value for authors but not readers. And to those you are acknowledging, the gesture is more important that the placement of this text.
4. Copyright Notice
You’ve created something original and it needs to be protected. If you want take help of a lawyer friend or even a student lawyer niece!
Search for copyright templates on Google and you’ll get many websites for you to choose from.
As long as you haven’t copied anyone, you’re ok.
5. More From The Author (Catalogue)
Also known as bibliography and the second most important section under back matter from sales side. If the reader has enjoyed your work she is most likely to enjoy your other work too.
Why not give her a chance to go ahead and make the purchase?
But what if you are an unpublished author and this one happens to be your first book? Let’s play out these couple of scenarios below.
Scenario # 1: You have several previous titles under your name
In this case, include a snippet with a link to different online stores for readers to click and visit the book page.
Scenario # 2: This is your first book
Do you already have your second book decided? If yes, include the excerpt and invite the reader to join your mailing list.
If no, make a really sweet offer for them to join your mailing list for the next title that you’ll be working on.
Don’t have a website yet? Ask them to follow your Facebook page.
Other Optional Sections for Front and Back Matter
There is a lot that can go in. It is upto you to decide what all you want to add to the front or back matter of your book.
As we’ve said earlier, be judicious and think through if you really need these sections.
- Dedication: Someone special in your life you want to dedicate this book to? Parent, Spouse, Kids, Teacher, Mentor etc.
- Foreword: A short paragraphy written by someone other that you. Usually this is someone in the position of influence. If you do include, make sure it is signed with the date and name of foreword’s author.
- List of figures & table: Usually after ToC in non-fiction.
- Prologue: Sets the context for the main story in the book. Sometimes also replaced with an Introduction.
- Connect: And invitation with links to connect with you on social media. Make it sound like you really want them to follow you.
Other Important Points to Note
Point # 1: For Kindle eBooks, request Amazon support if they can increase the preview length from 10 to 20%. Most probably they will. That gives you headroom to play with the front matter.
Point # 2: Include correct links under catalogue or your buyer hook. For Kindle include links to Amazon and not Flipkart or Google books.
Point # 3: Front and Back matter goes after the book is fully edited and before you begin formatting the content.
Point # 4: Make sure the links in your catalogue are affiliate links of your account. So that you earn a commission everytime someone makes a purchase via your bibliography link.
Point # 5: Workaround to point # 4. Setup a book catalogue page on your website. Include your affiliate links to different online retailers for each book on your catalogue page. Point readers to your catalogue page from within the bibliography section of your ebook. If you don’t have a website, check out our earlier article, Indie author’s guide to building a website.
There you go. I hope this article gets your front and back matter questions answered.
Author: Jabal Shah
Accidentally ending up in digital publishing while helping his wife publish her book, he now spends his waking hours learning and blogging ideas on book publishing and marketing strategies, digital tools and web 2.0 to help authors including himself find success with self-publishing.