The Parts of a Book (And How to Get Them Right)

parts of a book

Whether you’ve written andthoroughly self-editedyour manuscript or are stilldeveloping the idea, submitting it to an agent or an acquisitions editor in the proper format is crucial to your success.

Before they read a word, they’ll notice what’s missing or needs to be reformatted.

Get it right and you’ll look like a pro—giving your manuscript the best chance of being read and considered.

Get it wrong and you risk a quick rejection.

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Parts of a Book that Must Be in Your Manuscript

1. Title Page

This should include, naturally, your title (and a subtitle for a nonfiction book).

It would includeyour titleandA Novelfor a fiction book. Then comes your name, and do NOT putByin front of it.

You see that only on self-published books (and it shouldn’t appear there either).

2. Dedication Page

Here you tell who the book is to.

Maybe a loved one or a favorite mentor. Keep it short.

It will mean the most to the person in question, so don’t bore readers with a paragraph about something personal.

To Sherry; she knows whyis plenty.

3. Table of Contents

This is needed for a nonfiction book but may also be used in a novel if you’ve titled your chapters.

Ignore page numbers for now, because those will change when your manuscript is set in type.

And if you want to look like a pro, label such a listContents, notTable of Contents, which is now considered redundant.

4. Epigraph

A shortquotethat relates to your theme.

It might be a snippet from a song’s lyrics, a line from a poem, or a statement from a famous person, living or dead.

Be careful to get permission for copyrighted material and fully cite the source.

5. Foreword

Found primarily in nonfiction books, this can be written by you or by someone else.

At all costs, spellforewordcorrectly!

It’s notforward, foreward, forword,or anything other thanforeword.

6. Acknowledgments Page

This recognizes anyone who may have inspired or helped you in any way during the writing of your book—maybeyour agent, an editor, etc.

When you’re still shopping your book among agents or publishers, naturally you would leave this page open so you can mention them when and if they accept it.

Acknowledgmentsis often misspelled too, most commonly with the British version:Acknowledgements.

That extraecan look amateurish.

7. Prologue

These are found mostly in fiction, but they should be usedverysparingly.

它变得越来越受欢迎的序文的母亲ial part of chapter one because research shows that many readers skip it and jump to Chapter 1.

If aprologueis absolutely necessary, try not labeling it at all.

Readers are less likely to skip it. And make it as captivating as any other scene inyour novelor chapter in your nonfiction book.

8. Epilogue

The same is true of an Epilogue, which by definition would come at the end of your book.

Many novelists use anepilogueto provide closure and resolution.

They are generally discouraged because that content should appear in your closing chapter. And readers tend to skip back matter too.

你可以添加一个作者的注意促进一个年代equel or series.

9. Appendix

In a nonfiction book, you might add an Appendix or Endnotes to cite and footnote your resources, including interview subjects.

10. Glossary

This serves as a guide to esoteric terms in anonfictionbook or rare, unfamiliar, made-up terms in a novel and can include acast of charactersand/or locations.

11. Bibliography

Here, you would list every book cited in your manuscript.

12. Author Bio

On the final page briefly tell your story, give yourweb address, and other contact information (but not your phone number).

How to Format Your Book

Each agent and publisher may have slightly different submission guidelines.

Naturally, you want to give them what they require.

Some don’t give instructions beyond “standard manuscript format,” and in that case, consistency is key.

For example, if you write out numbers between zero and nine and use digits for any after that, do it the same way every time.

As for how to render your manuscript pages, compose your work in Word as either .doc or .docx files.

Following these general rules will make your manuscript look professional:

  1. Use 12-point type
  2. Use a serif typeface; the most common is Times New Roman
  3. Double-space your manuscript
  4. If Word defaults to extra space between paragraphs, change that value to zero, resulting in the same space between paragraphs as between lines
  5. Only one space between sentences, not two as many were taught in typing class
  6. Indent each paragraph half an inch (by setting a tab, not using the spacebar; even better establish this as automatic)
  7. Text should be aligned flush left and ragged right, not justified
  8. If you choose to add a line between paragraphs to indicate a change of location or passage of time, center a typographical dingbat (an ornament, character, or spacer used in typesetting, like ***) on the line
  9. Black text on a white background only
  10. One-inch margins on the top, bottom, and sides (the default in Word)
  11. Create a header with the title followed by your last name and the page number; the header should appear on each page other than the title page

For a more in-depth look at formatting,click here to read my post.

Click here to learn about the latest book writing softwarethat will help you create, organize, and edit your manuscript.

Want to write a book but don't know where to start? Click here to download my FREE guide:How to Write a Book: Everything You Need to Know in 20 Steps.

Don’t Fret

Too many writers worry more about formatting a book than about the actual writing.

More important to an agent or an acquisitions editor is what you have to communicate or how engagingly you cantell a story.

Just don’t discount formatting.

Follow the basics, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.


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