Optimize Your Reader Engagement with Your Book’s Front Matter

Last week, I promised to share how to engage your audience with some additional content in your book. You know the first few pages of a book, usually numbered in lower-case Roman numerals? 

That’s called the “front matter.” Although some readers skip right over it, it can do some heavy lifting when it comes to author-reader engagement. 
Traditionally included in front matter is:

Frontispiece (the black and white mirror image of the front cover), 

Title page (print the title and author name as it appears on the cover and the spine).

Copyright page: also called a “colophon,” it’s on the reverse of the title page, containing technical publishing information such as edition dates, copyrights, typefaces, ISBN, as well as publisher and printer names.

Dedication page (optional): a page where the author names the person or people for whom they have written the book.

Table of contents: the list of chapter headings and subheadings (optional) along with the respective page numbers. 

Foreword (optional): an introduction written by another person, usually coming before the preface.

Preface or Introduction (optional): an introduction written by the author.


What’s missing from this list is a critical piece of front matter that can simultaneously maximize and multiply future engagement with your reader. You’ll add it right in those beginning pages of the book, and in just a moment, I’ll tell you why.

First, let me tell you what it is.

Among these pages, I add a single page with a “special invitation” or “reader bonus,” in internet marketing circles, what’s known as a “shy yes.” The special invitation is meant to grab the reader’s email address, in exchange for something they’d really like to have (and ordinarily have to pay for), such as a: 

~bonus chapter–something that didn’t make the book, but would also be helpful, 

~a free checklist or a reference list, or

~even a free copy or two-free chapters from another book, which is what I’ve given you an example of, above. (Go ahead, try it out!)

The options are endless!

I usually place mine right after the Table of Contents and before any Foreword (or if there’s no Foreword, then the Introduction). The page doesn’t have to be specially designed (in other words, it can just be text), and should be simple. 

You go here: insert URL to get: insert BONUS.
The image above? Yeah, that’s in the front matter of my book, Tall Order! Organize Your Life and Double Your Success…in Half the Time!

Both are business books. Usually, someone who reads Business Dating reads Tall Order! (and vice versa). Even as you’re writing your book, you can be thinking about how you can engage with readers–and email is the very best way to have contact with them–through their Inbox.

Spend some time defining what you want to add to your front matter, and I’ll be back with some insight into what goes into your back matter next week!