Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Thoughts on The Craft -- cannegardner

Nothing in a book reader’s world turns them off more than shoddy presentation. Most readers can spot a self-published book as soon as they open the cover, if not at the cover, which is a shame, since book layout is not that difficult to understand. Therefore, my thoughts this week will stray towards the academic. This week we will look at the various parts of a book and how they are laid out and properly paginated. This seems to be an area of great difficulty for the self-published author. Now, I have spent over 10 years working with manuscript formatting from training manuals to business reports to books. You don’t have to have a degree in manuscript studies; you just have to know the parts and where to put them. So today, we shall talk about parts and pagination, beginning with what comes right after we open the cover...

  • Flyleaf: The blank leaf or leaves following the front free endpaper.
    Then comes the Front matter
  • The Frontispiece, which faces the title page and is on the back of the flyleaf, usually containing very elaborate artwork -- optional
  • The Title page -- If using two title pages, this one should only contain the title and should always be on an odd page.
  • The Copyright page: typically verso of the title page: shows copyright owner/date, credits, edition/printing, cataloguing details, etc.
  • Table of contents -- optional -- always an odd page
  • List of figures -- optional
  • List of tables -- optional
  • Dedication -- always an odd page
  • Acknowledgments -- optional, and sometimes this is moved to the Back matter -- always an odd page.
  • Foreword -- optional -- starts on an odd page
  • Preface -- optional -- starts on an odd page
  • Introduction -- optional -- starts on an odd page

Starting with the foreword, the pages should be numbered sequentially using Roman Numerals and will begin count from the flyleaf. Yes, from the flyleaf.

  • After the front matter we can add an additional Flyleaf and subsequent Frontispiece,
  • We then add the Second Title Page with Author and Publisher Information. If the book has parts, this might be the title page for first part by itself or in addition to the secondary title page.
  • Then comes the Body: the text or contents, the pages often collected or folded into signatures; the pages are usually numbered sequentially, and often divided into chapters.

Most often, you will hear that the first page of the first chapter should be regarded as Page 1, whether it is numbered or not and should always start on an odd page. Well, that is not accurate and a bit misleading. Page numbering for the Body of a book varies book to book and house to house. Most houses have a standard format that they use. In leafing through many of the hundreds of books I own, not to mention the myriad of library books I have read -- thousands probably in my 43 years -- I have found quite a wide variation. Some houses count sequentially from the flyleaf, using roman numerals for the foreword, preface, and introduction and then return to standard numbering for the body. Some houses count sequentially from the flyleaf, using roman numerals for the foreword, preface, and introduction but then begin counting anew in standard format just after the Introduction, almost as if the front matter was an entirely seperate book. This new count will include all new frontispieces, blank pages, and title pages subsequently numbering the first page of the first chapter anywhere from page 3 to 5 or beyond, depending on how much additional material there was in between the front matter and the main body of text. Lastly, some houses don’t count any of the front matter and define the first page of the first chapter as page 1 regardless of what came before it. Whatever method you choose, the first page of the first chapter should always start on an odd page.

Then we have the Back matter
The back matter generally returns to Roman numerals and follows the body text sequentially. Back matter includes:

  • Appendix
  • Glossary
  • Index
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Colophon
  • Flyleaf: The blank leaf or leaves (if any) preceding the back free endpaper.

Now, not every page in a book is physically numbered: Flyleaves, Tables of Contents, Chapter starts, Frontispieces, pages with artwork and standalone quotes or poetry should be devoid of a header, footer, and page numbers, except where a footnote notation might be needed. I won’t get into the geometry of page construction and interior page layout this week, since modern technology makes it much easier than it used to be ... and we can talk white space and fonts the next time.

Whatever style of pagination you choose for your book, you should stay consistent throughout and take the utmost care that you do not accidentally miss a step and throw your pagination out of sequence. Every page must be accounted for, regardless of how you choose to do it. And make sure your book has all the necessary parts. Make your book look like a book. If you don’t know what a book looks like, maybe you should get assistance with the interior layout.

For a basic fiction book, novel format, I generally like this layout. It’s simple, and you can’t go wrong. You can number sequentially from the Flyleaf or start your pagination on the Chapter 1 start. Either way is perfectly acceptable.

  • Flyleaf
  • Title Page with only the title and Copyright Page on the back
  • Dedication with a blank back
  • Second Title page with Author and Publisher Logo with a blank back
  • Chapter 1 Start -- Odd page
  • Body
  • Acknowledgements -- Odd page blank back
  • Flyleaf

Good Luck and happy formatting. Cheryl Anne Gardner


Floyd M. Orr said...

Hats off to Cheryl Anne again! This is the information we need to communicate to all self-published authors! Professionalism, or at least the appearance of it, is desperately needed in many self-published books if we are ever going to be taken seriously. It's about time someone explained this topic in great detail. Thank you.

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

Thanks Floyd. Is it obvious what a book nerd I am? I could discuss the smell of an old library book for hours.

Me, I like sequential pagination, so my first chapters normally begin on page 9, though I do not physically number the chapter starts. I have seen first chapters start as high as page 15.

And no where in my idle "how to" section wanderings have I seen it properly and thoroughly explained. Seemed odd to me for something so critical.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, that was short and sweet.