You CAN tell a book by its cover AND its interior. If you are self-publishing, you may be as creative as you want with the manuscript itself but give no reader reason to doubt the integrity of your words with shoddy formatting.

You’ve read books published by the big houses. They don’t mess around. The layout of each book is precise. You want your book to be taken seriously, so approach it professionally. And I sincerely suggest you do yourself a huge favor – understand you don’t know what you don’t know.

Just a little tough love here:

  • You may be proficient in Microsoft Word, but that doesn’t make you a digital formatter.
  • Similarly, a good speller does not a good editor make.
  • Even if you self-publish, enlist the expertise of a resource who knows every aspect of publishing. (The industry has become quite the jungle; you want an expert guide.)
  • Your self-publishing digital formatter will ensure that every section is where it should be, in order, on the correct right- or left-hand page, and positioned properly on the page itself.

With a team of pros behind you, your message will be clear, and your book up to superlative standards.

The Parts of a Book for Self-Publishers

Legal Page

Your publisher will ensure your legal page (also called the “colophon”) contains your ISBN number as well as your Library of Congress info. Contained here are requisite disclaimers and even info about contributors like your graphic artist or illustrator if you so choose to include those names.

Other Works

If applicable, this page may be added to showcase your list of previously written works. Great way to cross-sell your other publications!


An opportunity to frame your book for your reader by providing info and/or background on the book’s content. A “why” about the reason you wrote it perhaps. The preface can help set the tone and even give the reader insight into the person behind the pages.


When self-publishing, this is a wonderful opportunity if you are acquainted with a notable person in your field who will pen a short essay about their professional relationship with you or their thoughts about your book. It’s an endorsement, certainly, but no reason not to use everything you’ve got! A notation may also be added to the front cover art to state, “Foreword by __________.)


Not a necessary addition when self-publishing, but a nice one if you’d like to reference those who have inspired you or loved ones who made achievements (or anything!) possible. Instead of a conventional dedication you may substitute it for an “epigram” which is a quote or even a lyric from a song that speaks to you or provides insight into the reason for the book. You may also have both a dedication and an epigram, but they will be listed on different pages.

Table of Contents

Not mandatory in fiction books but a TOC offers a great roadmap to non-fiction ones. Your editor and digital formatter will collaborate, so you utilize the right format. Have fun with the chapter titles! You should go back and review those names when you’ve finished your book as you will have gained a different perspective when you’re on the other side of your manuscript.


These can be pretty lengthy with authors thanking everyone from their first-grade teacher to their significant other. There are no rules in self-publishing as far as this goes. You can include people directly associated with your book’s creation and launch or make mention of anyone who contributed to your success or inspired you to reach any goal.


You’ll need to track these and frame them in the proper format within the text and at the end of the book to give credit to any sources or direct quotes you use. Stay in the plagiarism-free zone by including the detail to give credit to your sources and to allow your readers to look up whatever studies or facts you reference. You may even have cause for an appendices section to list supplemental material that supported your text.

Coming Soon

There’s always room for shameless self-promotion so take a page to add a teaser. Some authors include the first chapter of their next book. When you’re self-publishing, the only rule is to make it your own!

Flap Copy

This is the about the book that will go on the back cover and likely an expanded version will go on Amazon for example. You want to be as concise and intriguing as possible here to excite readers who need to click or slide your book off the shelf and get it over to that register! (Consider of course leveraging keywords in the online description to help your book’s SEO.)

About the Author

It should technically be written in the third person. It’s also not a bad idea to include details that pertain to the book. You may have a storied career, but you don’t need to necessarily elaborate on your first job let’s say if it’s not relevant. Include your social media info as well to help build your following and so you may continue to be the influencer in your area of expertise.


Have one professionally done. Besides your book cover, you want to showcase your best side between the pages and on the outside.

A self-published and expertly constructed book is only as good as the sum of its parts. When you build it on solid footing, there will be nothing to stand in the way to distort what you have to say. Write on!

Conscious Shift Publishing consults, edits, formats, designs, publishes, and markets books. Whether writers wish to self- or indie-publish we inspire them through every step to promote their unique perspectives. CSP clients retain 100% of their royalties as well as 100% ownership of every digital file and image. Find out more at or contact publisher, Tracey Kern, at to schedule a complimentary consultation. Write on!