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September 9, 2016

The Matter at the Front

So your book is finished–edited, chapters laid out, ready to go to the printers. Then you get the estimate–major sticker shock. You may be tempted to cut cost by reducing the number of pages in your book.

Many self-publishers, when faced with this dilemma, look to their front matter (the information that comes at the front of the book, including the title page, copyright information, dedication, introduction and so on) as a place where they can eliminate a few pages. I mean, who really reads that stuff anyway? Why pay for all of those blank left facing pages? Can’t I just remove the blank pages and put my Table of Contents on the even-numbered, left-facing page behind the Dedication?

Don’t do it. This is a design error that will scream self-published/self-designed to the person flipping through the first pages of your book. Each section of your book should start on a right-hand odd-numbered page. The title page is always a right-hand page, the table of contents begins on a right-hand page, chapter 1 begins on a right-hand page, and so on.

(Another reason that this error occurs is that self-designers don’t recall that the Title Page is actually a right-facing page and so when you view a two-page spread in a processor such as Word, you are not viewing it as it will print. One way around this is to remove the Title page until you are ready to paginate the document so you are viewing it in Word as it will print. More sophisticated book design programs will show the correct two-page layout.)

Why? you ask. In the words of Teyve, Fiddler on the Roof, Tradition! A well-founded tradition. Starting on the right-hand side calls attention to the sections of the front matter that you’ve spent so much time formulating.

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