Keep prelims brief. Kindle automatically sets eBooks to open at the first chapter or preface (if there is one), making preliminaries obsolete. Some readers choose to flick back to the cover but even these don’t want to sift through lengthy copyright details.
Given this, I would suggest:
- a simple title page
- a brief copyright notice
- very short reviews (optional)
- a contents page (essential for nonfiction, optional for fiction)
Unless there’s something absolutely vital the reader needs to know before they start, author’s notes and acknowledgements should be left for the back of your book. If you’ve intrigued your reader enough, they’re more likely to take notice of them there.
Many eBooks have a list of other work by the same author in the prelims. This is, of course, where they’re generally found in the print copy. However, I think they’re better placed at the end of your eBook. They’re likely to go unseen if they’re included in the prelims. On the other hand, the end of your book is the perfect place to inform readers, who are hopefully eager for more, that you have other titles on offer
Go to the very beginning of your book. Remove anything fancy which resembles your print version, such as flashy title pages, a long copyright notice or dozens of pages of reviews. You should have your cursor flashing at the very top of your document, on a blank line immediately before the page break preceding your first chapter/preface:
We’re going to create a whole new style for the title page. To do this, click on the tiny box with an arrow at the bottom-right of Styles:
Select the New Styles icon at the bottom left of the drop down menu:
In the pop-up box, change the Name from Style 1 to Title Page and Style based on to (no style). Then go through setting the formatting you want. I suggest:
- Times New Roman
- 18 pt for short titles (16 or 17 may be better for longer ones)
- Colour: Automatic
- Single line spacing
Next, click on Format in the bottom-left hand corner and select Paragraph. Ensure left and right indentation is set at 0 cm and Special to (none). Type 30 pt into the Before field of the Spacing section:
The above assumes that you added space before your chapter headings. If, instead, you decided to have your headings right at the top of the page, then add the 30 pt to the After field, rather than the Before one.
Press OK and then OK again in the Create New Style from Formatting box.
Type your book title. You can use caps lock if you wish. It’s a personal decision based purely on what you like the look of. Then, press enter and type your name. I wouldn’t use all capitals for this. It looks neater without. If you wanted to do something a little fancy, you could add a line or a row of hyphens between the title and your name:
Assuming you added a transparent GIF to the beginning of each chapter, you need to copy and paste it before the title page too. Use the same method as you did in the last section. Once you’ve copied the GIF, place the cursor so that it’s flashing just to the left of the first letter of your title. Right click your mouse and select Paste. If there are different paste options with your version of Word, choose Keep Source Formatting. If you click your mouse at to the left of the top paragraph mark, you’ll see the GIF has been copied:
Place the cursor at the end of your title page. Hold down ctrl and press enter to create a Page Break:
Create a new style following the instructions above. This time, label it Copyright Page and set the formatting to:
- Times New Roman
- 12 pt
- Single line spacing
In the Paragraph box set:
- Left and right indentation to 0 cm
- Special to (none)
- If you’re adding space before your headings, type 30 pt into the Before field of the Spacing section and 0 pt into the After field
- If you’re not adding space before your headings, ensure both Before and After are set to 0 pt
In terms of content, this page marks the biggest difference from your print edition. You should cut it right down to avoid readers on small screens having to flick through several pages of dull information.
I’d suggest the following. If you’re adding a space before headings, do a hard return (shift + enter) after each statement to avoid the 30 pt gap being added between every line. Otherwise a simple enter will suffice:
Copyright © date/author’s name
All rights reserved.
This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only and may not be re-sold or given away to other people.
N.B. the © symbol doesn’t convert well when entered on a Mac so if you’re using one omit it; the word copyright does just as well.
The above does the job, looks neat and most importantly, is concise. It’s by no means definitive. You may choose to leave out Kindle Edition and the last sentence about eBook licensing. Equally, if you have any urgent disclaimers or want to acknowledge cover design, you can do so briefly. Another nice touch is to add a website address (with a hyperlink – see Inserting Special Features for instructions on how to do this).
Don’t add information about your print book, such as where it was printed or its ISBN. If you purchased a block of ISBNs and want to use one for your Kindle edition, you’re welcome to add this to your copyright page but it’s really not necessary.
Finally, assuming you’re using a GIF for spacing before chapter headings, copy and paste it to the beginning of the page.
Your prelims should now look something like this:
Only add reviews if you have short, relevant quotes to insert, preferably from experts in your field or sources that sound impressive. Use a maximum of two or three and keep them brief, one or two sentences at most.
Type Praise for (your book title) in Heading 1 (pasting the GIF before it, if this is what you’ve done elsewhere).
You may wish to create a new style for the main body of text on this page. Individual reviews should be nicely but not excessively spaced (a 10 pt gap should be fine). The names of reviewers/quote sources are usually listed in italic after the soundbite, with an em dash separating them from quote.
Table of Contents
The table of contents in an eBook is slightly different to that in a print copy. It doesn’t have pages. Instead, all listed items contain links which take the reader directly to the correct position in the book.
If you’re writing nonfiction, your readers will expect a contents page. However, they’ve increasingly become the norm for fiction, too. Although eReaders automatically keep your place, it’s not as easy as a print book to flick through and find a particular section, should you wish to go back and re-read it. In these circumstances, a simple list of chapters which, when pressed, will take you to that point in the book can be an invaluable navigation tool.
Inserting a Table of Contents
Start at the top of a fresh page, click Heading 1 and type TABLE OF CONTENTS. Paste your GIF before it (if that’s what you’ve done elsewhere). Then, press enter.
There are two ways of adding a linked table of contents. If you’re using Word for Mac, you’ll need to employ the manual method as the automatic one doesn’t allow you to use hyperlinks instead of page numbers.
The Automatic Method
In order for this to work, you need to have used Styles to format your headings and specifically, have designated all headings you want to appear as Heading 1, Heading 2 etc. If you followed my instructions, then this is precisely what you did do.
Select the References tab and click on Table of Contents on the far left-hand side:
Ignore the automatic tables and instead, go to the options at the bottom of the menu. Pick either Insert Table of Contents or in Word 2013 and later, Custom Table of Contents:
In the Table of Contents pop-up box:
- Untick Show page numbers
- Ensure Use hyperlinks instead of page numbers is ticked
- Select the number of levels you require. If you select 1, your table of contents will show a simple list of all headings in Heading 1 style. If you choose 2, it will show subheadings as long as you used Heading 2 to format them. Don’t get carried away. The most important thing is that your table of contents is clear and easy to use. One level is ideal, two or three workable, depending on the structure of your book. More than that will quickly become a muddled mess.
Your hyperlinked contents page should magically appear. Use ctrl and click on a few items to test the links.
As your table of contents’ heading was created using Heading 1, it will also appear. This could come in handy for navigation so, personally, I’d leave it. However, if you really don’t want it there, go back to where you typed TABLE OF CONTENTS and create a new style for it. Once this is done, update your contents to reflect the change by selecting Update Table from the References tab:
The Manual Method
If you’re working on Word for Mac or want more control over your table of contents, you’ll need to enter items and links manually.
The first stage to this is to create bookmarks, that is, the places in your book you want the reader to jump to when a link on the contents page is pressed.
- Highlight your first chapter heading:
- Click on the Insert tab and select Bookmark:
- In the Bookmark pop-up box, type a one-word name by which you’ll recognise the position later on:
- Press Add
- Go through all the headings you wish to appear in your table of contents, creating bookmarks and giving them names by which you’ll recognise them.
Once you’ve bookmarked everything, type out your contents page. I suggest you use Normal style to do this.
To link this list to your bookmarks, highlight the first item on your table of contents, right click your mouse and select Hyperlink:
In the left-hand panel of the Insert Hyperlink box, click on Place in This Document. Then, find the relevant bookmark in the central window:
The first entry of your contents page is now hyperlinked. Go through your table of contents, adding hyperlinks to all items. When you’ve finished, check the links are going to the correct destination by clicking on them whilst holding down ctrl.
If your book is good then by the end, you should have a captive audience, eager to hear more about you and other books you’ve written. The back matter is the perfect place to exploit this.
Before you even do a page break, I would suggest hitting enter a couple of times and including a paragraph like this:
All web addresses should be hyperlinked (I’ll show you how to do this in the next section). If you have any active offers at your website, this could be adapted to: To find out more and to enter my free prize draw/for your chance to win a free copy of my new book…
After this, create a page break.
Then, if applicable, add a list of your previously published work under the title Also by (author name). Remember to hyperlink titles to their Amazon purchase page.
Another excellent idea for the back of your book is to include the first chapter of your next novel. This is an excellent way to hook a reader. Remember to link to your new book’s Amazon page at the end of the extract. If you don’t currently have another book published, don’t worry. The good thing about eBooks is that they’re easy to update so you can add a sample chapter and links to a new book, whenever you want.
You may also have author’s notes, acknowledgements etc. Whatever you include, make sure it’s in a style consistent with the rest of the book. Wherever possible, use Heading 1 for the page title and Normal for the text underneath.
The only place you might want to adapt this/create a new style is your list of other work. The book titles should be nicely but not excessively, spaced (eg 10pt between them) and possibly marginally larger than normal (13/14 pts). Alternatively, bold or italic may make them stand out a little more.
Your EBook is now complete.
It’s time to look at How to Save your EBook for Upload to KDP