After you’ve finished writing your memoir, develop your book’s Front Matter, those important documents you’ll place at the beginning of your book.
The task can be daunting. “The part of a book that most confuses new independent authorsis the front matter,” writes Joel Friedlander
But we’re here to help you!
Keep in mind that a book’s front matter can include a variety of pages, each serving a different purpose. Below I’ll explain some of your options. (See more at “Front Matter: What It Is and Why It Is Important
Many people begin with a Half Title Page—that is, only the name of your memoir. The subtitle and the author’s name don’t appear on the Half Title Page.
The Title Page will include your memoir’s full title, including its subtitle, and the author’s name. If you’ve used an illustrator, his name also goes on your Title Page.
If you’re self-publishing, you’ll need to create a Copyright Page. You’ll find everything you need to know at “What is the difference between a preface, a foreword, and an introduction?” This is a valuable resource for you and it includes much more than info on Prefaces, Forewords, and IntroductionsScroll down to “What goes on the copyright page?”
The next page will be your Dedication Page, where you name those for whom you’ve written your story. (See last week’s post, “Your memoir needs a book dedication
Consider adding an Epigram or Epigraph to your Dedication Page. An Epigram/Epigraph is a saying or quote that pertains to what your readers will discover. It can be a parable, proverb, quotation, Bible passage, or something clever. It can be a line from a poem, an adage, a maxim, a witticism, a precept, or a prayer. (See examples in last week’s post, “Your memoir needs a book dedication
Next, develop your Table of Contents(optional). If your memoir is a collection of essays or chapters, you will have given them titles. If so, list them for readers and include page numbers.
If you want to include a FOREWORD note the correct spelling), place it after the Table of Contents. You, the author, do not write the Foreword—someone else does, someone of your choosing, someone who can speak with authority and who assures readers they can trust you and your writing. You’ll appreciate this article: “How Do I Get A Foreword For My Book?
An optional Preface appears after the Foreword. Learn more about Prefaces at:
What is a Preface: Definition and Tips for WritersHow to Write a PrefaceWhat is the difference between a preface, a foreword, and an introduction?
Another optional feature is a TimelineWhy? Think back: You have a good grasp of the order of your life’s events. Probably your kids do, too, but how about your grandchildren and great-grandchildren? And other readers? They probably won’t have a clue.
If you arrange your memoir in a non-chronological order, or if you have flashbacks or insert backstory, a Timeline can be a helpful tool for readers. Your goal is to make it easy for them to follow along with you. A Timeline can clear up anything that confuses readers or hinders your stories’ messages.
Keep your Timeline simple—a list with dates should work, or you could create a horizontal line across two facing pages with key dates marked.
Some authors include an Introduction and/or a Prologue in their Front Matter, but technically neither is part of Front Matter—they’re part of the Main Body of the book. Think of your Introduction as writing a letter to your readers. State why you wrote your story. You might want to explain how and why you chose your title. Tell readers what you hope they’ll discover in your book. Make it personal. Humor is good. Love is a must.
Frank P. Thomas has this good advice: “Avoid making any apologies in your Introduction for your life, for your writing, or for anything else. You are better than you think. So be positive”How To Write The Story of Your Life
Read more about Introductions at “What is the difference between a preface, a foreword, and an introduction?” and “Forewords, Prefaces, and Introductions: Where to Begin?
A Prologue gets the reader ready to begin Chapter One. It might include your memoir’s setting, date, and other background information. A Prologue can help readers settle into your story—which makes it more likely they’ll read your memoir all the way to the end. However, consider the pros and cons of including a Prologue: Click on “The GreatDebate: To Prologue or Not to Prologue?” See also “Does My Memoir Need a Prologue?” and “When to Use a Prologue
Composing your memoir’s Front Matter can be a huge task, but if you persist and work with today’s resources, you should do fine. Also, in conclusion:
This blog post by Joel Friedlander is a valuable resource for you when crafting all your Front Matter: “How to Organize Your Book’s Front Matter
I highly recommend you use “What is the difference between a preface, a foreword, and an introduction?” as you compile your memoir’s Front Matter. In writing my memoirI referred to this article many, many times. It contains much more than info on prefaces, forewords, and introductions. It’s a long article so keep scrolling down. It’s a rich, rich resource!
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