Recommendations for manuscripts

You can organize your manuscript any way you like. However, here are a few conventions you may wish to consider.

Put the title page first

The title page should be the first thing in the book. The convention at the moment is to mimic print books, with copyright info at the front. This page is known as the title leaf, and in Western countries is traditionally the page on the left facing the title page on the right. In ebooks there are no left and right pages; readers only see one at a time. Its continued use in electronic formats is pure laziness; it makes no sense in a format you cannot quickly flip through.

The contents page should be next

Second on the list is the contents page. Opening with the title is fine, and useful. But the contents should be no more than one touch or flick away.

Put the boring stuff right at the end

The detail of the book, such as the copyright info, publisher details and other related material should go right at the end, and should be included in the contents so people can access it if they wish to. Talking of which…

Use a colophon

A colophon was a traditional method to record and communicate production notes about the book. It could include printer information, author information, details about the edition and even material on how it was printed.

It fell out of favour with British printers in the 16th century and was ultimately replaced by the more truncated title leaf. However, it is quite handy for mediums that don’t require ink and paper.

Here is a rough running order for your colophon to consider:

  1. Call it a “Colophon”; it is a great word and helps distinguish it from legacy books ;);
  2. Make sure it is included in the table of contents using a $TOCL tag; put it right at the end, even after the index if you have one;
  3. Add the copyright info at the top;
  4. Add details about the cover;
  5. Add an “About the author” section giving a brief biography;
  6. Add an “About the publisher” section if there is one.