Self-Publishing Basics: The Title Page

by | Feb 1, 2010

In an earlier post about the parts of a book, I briefly discussed the title page:

Title page—Announces the title, subtitle, author and publisher of the book. Other information that may be found on the title page can include the publisher’s location, the year of publication, or descriptive text about the book. Illustrations are also common on title pages.

But title pages are more than a dry listing of facts. They are commonly the most decorative display page in a book, and are often used as the only location really suitable for expressions of design and graphics, since the rest of the book is devoted to transmitting the thoughts of the author.

Some consider the title page one of the least important parts of the frontmatter. This may be because the first printed books did not have title pages. Typically, the text would begin on the first page, and books were identified by their first words, rather than by a separate title.

Here are elements that are found on the title page:

  • Full title of the book
  • Subtitle, if any
  • Author’s name
  • Editor’s name, in the case of anthologies or compilations
  • Translator’s name, for works originally in a different language
  • Illustrator or photographer’s name, for illustrated books
  • Number of the edition, in the case of revised editions
  • Series notice, if part of a series
  • Name and location of publisher
  • Year of publication

Setting the tone for the book

Stay by Moriah Jovan

Click to enlarge

But title pages have often been the canvas on which authors and book designers have painted a picture of what is to come in the body of the work. Here’s a title page from Mariah Jovan’s Stay, designed by the author.

Here we see all the required elements of title, author, note that the work is part of a series, publisher name and location. In addition, the typography helps to tie the cover and the interior together. The designer has also given this page a subtle resonance with the cover by “ghosting” the image of the buildings in the background. This lends it a very atmospheric quality, like a fine perfume.

Following it is a different style of title page, from the Chicago Manual of Style. This is a lovely and modern typographic design that emphasizes the fact that the Manual is updated regularly:
Chicago manual of style

Click to enlarge

All the same elements are present, but used in a completely different way. The large number “15” in the background is critical to regular users of the Chicago Manual, since the most recent version is usually preferred. This allows the book to be instantly identified as the 15th edition.

It’s Your Title Page—Make the Most of It

I’m going to collect some title pages from different eras and different design philosophies for a future post. But you can see already that, when it comes to title pages, you have a lot of leeway for creativity. If you use the same type fonts that are used for the title on the cover, and the text of the interior, you will help integrate the various parts of the book, making for a more harmonious reading experience.

But if you’ve got illustrations, artwork for your cover, or an idea of a bold typographic design, this is the place to use it.

Takeaway: As long as your title page conveys basic and necessary information, it can be an opportunity to set a visual tone for your book. Be creative.

tbd advanced publishing starter kit

22 Comments

  1. Rebecca Ruth

    Stephanie,

    Kindle direct will tell you everything you need to know. I have used it twice. It is wonderful.
    You will leave the publisher part blank unless you create your own publishing logo. KDP has iinstructions about that too. I did not create my own publishing logo and all is well. I will later though.

    Reply
  2. Stephanie

    I’m currently designing the cover page for a book that I will self-publish, probably through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. I’m confused about what I put as the publisher? Since it’s SELF published, does that refer to the press where it’s printed? If so, do I just name Amazon? If not, what do I state?

    Reply
  3. liam

    hi, i found your blog today, and it helped immensely. im liam, i’m young but love writing. i’m planning to be an author when im older, and right now i’m writing a novel, slow but surely. this is a big help for me thanks sp much.

    Reply
  4. sinadi

    I found your blog today and it was a great help for me. My name is Sinadi. I am a student of Sri lanka and i am 12 years old. i want to be an author when i grow up and this is quite a big help for me. i also wanted to ask you if you had any tips for me how to create or design the book.And also a giant giant giant ‘THANK YOU’.
    Have a great time!!!

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      sinadi,

      Thanks for reading. You might want to take a look at the book interiors here: Book Design Templates. You’ll be able to see a variety of designs and you can download full size PDFs of sample pages.

      Reply
  5. Donna

    Hi Joel!
    Thanks for the information. If I am publishing my book through CreateSpace – do I put CreateSpace as the publisher on my title page? Or do I use my name and address?
    Thanks!

    Reply
  6. SA Stirling

    Should two authors on a title page be listed alphabetically?

    Reply
    • Sharon Goldinger

      SA, the answer depends entirely upon what your agreement with the other author is (you do have a written agreement, right?). It could be alphabetical; it could be based on who did more writing. It’s completely up to you and your co-author.

      Reply
  7. Tanisha Williams

    I just discovered your blog today and I find it very helpful especially for aspiring writers like me. I’m more inclined to do self-publishing since I don’t have enough resources to hire a book designer. The tips you shared here will definitely give me the boost I need.

    Reply
  8. Don Darkes

    Aha. The difference between plagiarism and research is with plagiarism you steal the ideas of one author, with research you steal the ideas of many. This page gave me a lot of great ideas, from many different sources- so I guess it qualifies as research and I can therefore use them! Thank you. and well done – some great ideas.

    Reply
      • Marie Miller

        Just want to thank you Joel for all the wonderful helpful info that you submit to us….you are a gem… am reading thru and utilizing what pertains to my needs at the moment…

        Reply
  9. Steph

    Just to know how I cite the name and year of publication from books and journals

    Reply
  10. C. JoyBell C.

    Dear Joel,

    I just discovered your blog today, through clicking a link in an email sent to me by CreateSpace. I’ve been browsing through some of your articles and I just wanted to express my appreciation and gratitude for you, for what you do, letting us in on all these magnificent secrets! Thank you so much, Joel! With the use of your blog, I can educate myself!

    C. JoyBell C.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      I’m really please you’re getting something from these article, thanks for the feedback!

      Reply
  11. Joel

    Hey Moriah, love that avatar! Your title page was lovely, don’t you think? I liked the atmospheric effect. You’re pretty good, you know. Thanks for stopping by.

    Reply
  12. Moriah Jovan

    Hey! RJ sent me the link today. I’m famous! Or infamous.

    Thanks so much, Joel. I got the idea when I was re-reading the Little House books to cram as much nuance into Vanessa as I could. I wanted Vanessa’s Whittaker House counterpart to Eric’s Missouri state Capitol building. :)

    Wow again and thanks again!!!

    Reply
  13. Joel

    RJ, you’re welcome. “Stay” definitely looks intriguing. I’m really glad you and Mariah have published your own books. Why deny readers the pleasure? Thanks for stopping by.

    Reply
  14. RJ Keller

    Thanks for this!

    (BTW, I enjoyed “Stay” very much.)

    Reply

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