free the pen, a blog for writers

September 11, 2014

What is the Structure of Your Book?

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 4:08 pm

In my work with new writers, they usually do not consider or take seriously the structure of their book. After all, writers spend time on the actual writing, right? But the structure of a book is important. It is the map that lays out what you are saying and the form in which you are going to say it.

Almost all books have the basic structure of the copyright page, title of contents, chapters headings, and about the author. But there are other pages to consider. So here are some idea:

1. An internal first page with only the title on it – this is the page authors like to inscribe for readers.

2. An Other Books by the Author Page so you can also promote your other works.

2. A Dedication page.

3. An Acknowledgment page.

4. An Epilogue page.

5. A page of ideas for book clubs.

In addition to the overall structure, the content has its own structure. Depending on what type of book you are writing, it is important to define the best way to make your content stand out. Do you want chapters for each character’s voice? (see Barabar Kingsolver’s book, The Poinsonwood Bible) Do you want to have half the book about the problem and the other half the solution? (see Leigh Fortson’s memoir, Embrace, Release, Heal). Do you want to start with history or backdrop?

When I browse bookstores I open books and study the Table of Contents. Basically, I want to see how an author structures her book. I highly recommend that before publishing your book, you check out the genre of your choice, and review how other authors have laid out their books. Get creative. Do you want to add pictures and where will those pictures be? (see any memoir with pictures) Do you have footnotes and do you want them at the foot of the page or in the back of the book? What about resources you used to gather information, don’t you want to add them in case the reader wants to do her own research? Are you going to add any maps or family trees (see Luis Urrea’s book, The Hummingbird’s Daughter)?

There are basically two different structures to consider for your book:

1. the big picture of how the different pages fit together, and

2. the internal story and how that is going to be laid out.

Keep the pen moving!

Jan, CEO and Founder of About the Author Network, a membership organization promoting writers, authors, and their publications.

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