A Simple Checklist to Make Sure Your Manuscript is Complete!

Getting your book ready for publishing is an exciting time. But there are a huge number of things to think about as release day approaches. As a result, it’s easy to overlook adding some of the front and/or back matter to your book. This article runs through the common (and not-so-common) sections that you might have forgotten to include. All of them are optional to one degree or another, but most books will have at least the first five items.

 

Copyright page

It’s a basic thing, but we find that the copyright page is probably the most forgotten page in manuscripts we receive for formatting. It can seem like a complex thing to write, but there is a simple trick to figuring out what to put on it – just look at a few books on your bookshelf (or Kindle), and pick and choose the bits you want to have on your copyright page.

 

Dedication

It’s a small thing, but dedicating your book to someone can mean a lot to that person. You don’t need to say much – a simple “To my xxx” can be just as meaningful (if not more) as a paragraph or two of gratitude.

 

Acknowledgements

Saying thank you to the people who helped you work on your book is always appreciated by those involved – proof readers, people who you bounced ideas (or problems) off, supportive friends/family, etc. If you don’t credit them on your copyright page, this is a common area to mention editors, artists, formatters (hint, hint 🙂 ), etc.

 

About the Author

Readers usually like to know a bit about the author of the book they just enjoyed. You don’t have to write a full autobiography – a paragraph or two is fine. Let the reader know that you’re a real person!

 

Contact Information

Usually this is combined with the “About the Author” section, but not always. Make sure you include all your contact details for where readers can find you – your website, you blog, your Facebook page, your Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest name, etc. If you have one, your mailing list should also be mentioned (although this often gets more attention if you have it on a page by itself).

Don’t make the mistake I’ve made in my own books (I’m sure I’ll get around to fixing it one day!) of just saying “go to my website, all the other links are there”. Include all the links in your book, so the reader doesn’t have to go looking for anything!

 

Author Notes

Not many books need this, but sometimes it can be nice to know how a particular book came about, or if it is based on events that happened in real life. If you did a lot of research for your book, often you found lots of interesting tidbits that you weren’t able to include in your story – mentioning one or two of them here might make the reader interested enough to go and learn more about the topic themselves.

 

Other Books By…

If you have written more than one book, always, always, always mention them in your latest book! This can be as simple as a basic list of titles, or you can go full-out and include cover thumbnails and book blurbs or descriptions. The reader has just finished your book (and hopefully enjoyed it!) – tell them about all the other great books you’ve written that they might also enjoy!

 

Glossary

If your setting has a lot of “made up” words or phrases (or even just uses a lot of technical terms that not everyone knows), you might want to consider a glossary where you list them all along with their definition.

 

Character List

Some readers like to see a list of the named characters in your book. And if you have a lot of characters, characters with similar names, or if there are complex relationships between the characters, it can make things a bit easier to understand!

 

Book Sample

This isn’t always applicable, but if you have another book related to the new book (covering similar themes), consider including a short extract from that book. Don’t go overboard with this (some readers hate them), but a chapter or two of your other book might entice the reader to buy that one as well. And if the second book has a sample of a third book…

 

One Final Item

It’s not a book section, but one thing you might want to give a final thought to is section breaks. If you use them, how do you want to distinguish them in your book? One or more blank lines? A mix of characters (eg: ***, ###, ~~~)? Or did you want to use an image? Whatever you choose, make sure you’re consistent – if you use *** in some places, and ### in others, there should be a reason. 🙂

(As a side note, if we’re formatting your book for you, we do have a selection of graphics you can choose from if you want to use a graphic as your section break, but we can’t make the choice for you – you are the best person to know what would fit the tone, theme and style of your book).

 

Publishing a book (especially if it’s your first one) is an exciting time. Use this list to make sure you’ve put everything you want in your manuscript, and then get that puppy out there!

Wishing you much success in your publishing endeavors!

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