Endorsements – If you collect a few endorsements from authors in your field, those usually go on the back cover (and if you get a big-name endorsement, it can go on the front cover!). And if you’re lucky enough to collect five or more, you can feature them on the first page or two of your book. (If you need some help with this process, here is a previous post on How to Get Testimonials for Your Book.)
Dedication – Typically just a sentence or two dedicating the book to one or more family members or friends. The dedication stands alone on a page.
Acknowledgements – Longer than a dedication, acknowledgements usually recognize the people involved in book production. This may include your appreciation for people who you interviewed or who contributed to the book in some way, your literary agent, editor, publisher, and people who provided other types of support. This section is usually placed at the back of the book, though it can be at the front of the book too.
Table of Contents – Consider this one mandatory. It should be placed at the front of the book, indicating sections, chapters, and page numbers. The table of contents is also a sales tool for how-to books, helping potential readers discover what they will learn from the book.
Foreword – A few introductory pages about why the book is helpful and why the author is qualified to write the book. A foreword should be written by a prominent author in the same field as a way of adding credibility, though it is entirely optional. If you do include a foreword, it is customary to indicate “Foreword by xxx” on the front cover, which provides the added benefit of exposure for the author who writes it for you.
End Notes – If your book references other texts, studies, or surveys, this should be indicated as a footnote, or more commonly used today as an End Note. Instead of inserting footnotes into a book, many publishers prefer that authors use End Notes at the end of each chapter for easier formatting.
Resources – One way to add value for your readers is to provide a list of resources, which can include related books, recommended websites, and other related items the reader would find useful. This section is usually listed as a final chapter in the book. I personally include a lot of links and resources in my books and I like to summarize those in a Resources chapter at the end of the book. As a bonus, I often make the chapter available as a bonus download for easy printing.
Index – An index can be placed in the back of a book, which is a reference guide for the reader showing important words and terms from the book and their associated page numbers. An index is often used in medical books and any kind of book that might be used for reference purposes. From a publishing perspective, an index is created by a professional indexer (yes, there is a whole society of people who do this for a living!). The index is appended to the end of the book after the book has been edited and typeset for printing to ensure the page numbers are referenced properly.
Author Bio – The last page of the book is an ideal place to share more about the author. You can provide information about where you live, your family, your business, your background, and any other details you want readers to know. You can also list previous books you’ve written, details about any services that you may offer, social media links, and your website address. You can even include a call to action here, such as “Visit xyz.com and get a bonus report when you sign up for the newsletter!” It’s nice to include a professional photo too so that readers can feel like they get to know you a bit more. Though this page is optional, I encourage all of our authors to include one since it’s a great way to connect with readers.
Advertisements – Some authors and publishers invite advertisers to contribute to their books in exchange for payment. While this option isn’t used as often as it should be, if your book provides any kind of how-to advice, it can be worth contacting potential sponsors who want to reach your audience and offering them a single-page ad.
Bonus Downloads – One piece of advice I offer my clients is to find a way to provide bonus downloads for their readers. These could be templates, worksheets, or other types of supplemental content. The point is to provide additional value while also inviting readers to visit your website and sign up for your mailing list. Readers appreciate additional value and this can be a great way to boost website traffic and build your contact list.
Back Cover Copy – The back cover of your book is an important billboard for your work. When a potential reader picks up a book, they quickly flip it over to read the backside. Because of this, it is incredibly important that you write compelling sales copy for your book (here’s a previous post on How to Write Sales Copy for the Back of Your Book). In addition, authors should include a brief bio—just a single paragraph—with the most relevant details about your experience as it relates to the book. Be sure to include your website address and a photo. Additional elements on a back cover include endorsements (if you have them), a barcode with ISBN, and a retail price.