By Kathy Widenhouse, award-winning content writer and author who specializes in writing for nonprofits and faith-based organizations.
An online devotional for writers
Do not add to his words. (Proverbs 30:6, NLT)
Books are divided into three parts—front matter, the body, and back matter.
Why does your book need front matter? Because it sets up the book by giving readers information they need, such as what the book will cover (the table of contents) or the inspiration behind the story (the epigraph).
There’s also a more calculated approach to the purpose of front matter – “to make sure your book looks as professional as possible,” according to the good folks at self-publishing platform PublishDrive.
Basic publishing information – the title page, the copyright page, and the table of contents – give your book legitimacy. Without them, potential readers may pass over your content because in their minds it’s bogus or at least signals a “poor reading experience.”
The books in the Bible have no need for front matter. They avoid preamble and jump into the good stuff right out the gate, starting in the Old Testament with, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, NLT). The New Testament follows suit: “This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1, NLT).
As for added legitimacy … God admonishes us not to add to his words. He doesn’t need to “look like a pro.”
Yet you and I? We’re mere mortals. If you’re writing a book, choose front matter elements that demonstrate your authenticity and that set the context for your reader.
A book’s front matter sets context for your reader.
Your Word is complete. Help me to give my readers a complete experience as they read my book. Show me what helps to include to set context for them.
In Jesus’s name, Amen.
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