Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.
-- Francis Bacon
Don't know what a Flyleaf is? Well, you should, and today we'll be taking one of those nice tasty printed books and chewing a little bit off around the edges. Don't worry; most good books are fat free. Anyway, the flyleaf is the blank leaf or leaves following the front free endpaper of a book [or the cover in the case of a paperback book], and most new Indie authors have no idea what it is or how to use it. It comes before any of the front matter.
It's a nifty little page when you stop to think about it and has so many uses. Some publishers use it for blurbs, some for the publisher colophon -- the page is left blank on the back with only the publisher logotype on the front. Sometimes it's used to list other works by the author like an advertisement, and sometimes it's used for a short author biography. When a book is in Beta, the flyleaf is often used to indicate that the book is an unedited ARC and not for resale. Other times it's left blank front and back to serve as a signature page so that the author does not have to sign on any of the interior printed pages, and on occasion it is left out entirely, the publisher having opted to use a soft-title page or even the main title page as the first page in the book. A soft title page contains only the title on one side and the copyright information on the other. A full title page lists the title, the author, and the publishing house along with their logotype.
Trying to decide what sort of front matter and back matter to include in a book is not an easy choice, and it varies depending on whether or not you are writing fiction or non-fiction. See my article here on the making of a book.
I use a flyleaf, a soft title page, and a full title page because I like the layout better, and I give away a lot of books. I find a blank flyleaf works much better for lengthy signatures and notes. But you have to decide for yourself, and the best advice I can give you is to head out to your local bookstore, find the genre you write in, and take a look at the front matter and back matter in about twenty or thirty books to get a feel for what you like. Certain items have a preferred order, and I have listed that order in my article. One of the websites I highly recommend for design advice is Joel Friedlander's site: The Book Designer. Joel has spent a long time in the industry and has a lot of content on his website that any new Indie author will find most helpful.
So now you know what a flyleaf is, so when you see one in a book, blank or not, you will know it's not a mistake.
Cheryl Anne Gardner