What Are the Parts of a Book? The Ultimate Breakdown

Posted on Jun 3, 2024

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Putting together a book willy nilly won’t get you the book sales you’re looking for. If you lack the right parts of a book, yours will look low quality, and it won’t sell (or get good reviews).

You know what you want to write about…

What you don’t know is which parts of a book are actually necessary in your book.

Getting this wrong can make you look like a real amateur instead of a credible professional—which is what you actually want.


Knowing which parts of a book to include in yours and which don’t make any sense starts with knowing what they are to begin with.

These are the parts of a book you need & what we’ll cover in detail for you:

  1. Book Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright
  4. Table of Contents
  5. Dedication
  6. Foreword
  7. Prologue
  8. Epilogue
  9. Epigraph
  10. Book introduction
  11. Inciting incident
  12. Sections of a book
  13. Act structure
  14. First slap
  15. Second slap
  16. Climax
  17. Acknowledgements
  18. Author bio
  19. Coming soon / Read more
  20. Synopsis

Click to jump to that section.

What are the parts of a book?

Design and content make up the entirety of the book, including the title, introduction, body, conclusion, and back cover.

In order to write a book in full, you need to have all the moving parts to make it not only good but also effective.

Without essential pieces, your book will appear unprofessional, and worse: you’ll lose the credibility and authority writing a book is so useful for.

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Parts of a Book You Need for Success

It’s not enough to just write and self-publish a book by throwing it up on Amazon or any other publishing site.

You have to get the parts of your book right if you want it to sell more, get those 5-star reviews, and place yourself as an authority figure in your field.

Here’s how to do that.

1 – Book Cover

Every book needs a great book cover. As much as we’d love to think people don’t judge a book by its cover…they do.

Having a quality book cover is one of the best ways you can ensure your book sells well, especially as a self-published author. It’s the first thing they see, and a potential buyer can form an opinion in seconds.

Here’s an example of a full, front-to-back strong book cover that fits the tone, style, and contents of a book titled The Politically Homeless Christian by Aaron Schafer.

Book Cover Of The Politically Homeless Christian Showing How Its One Of The Most Important Book Parts

2 – Title Page

For obvious reasons, your title is important. It is often the first impression a potential reader will have of your book.

What’s more, a book’s title combined with its cover typically gives a solid indication of the genre and tone of a book.

But that’s not all that’s important to your book. The title page is also necessary and without it, your book will be missing something crucial.

Your title page serves as a means of not only declaring your title clearly, but also ensuring your name, subtitle, endorsement, and any other crucial information is present for your readers to view clearly.

Here’s an example of a great title page and what you can use to replicate your own from I Wish Everyone Was an Immigrant by Pedro Mattos:

Title Page Part Of The Book I Wish Everyone Was An Immigrant By Pedro Mattos

As you can see, the title page is really just the main title, any subtitle you may have, and the author’s name at the bottom. But it’s important to format it well, use consistent fonts, and make it look appealing.

Other than this being an industry standard for books, it helps to keep everything clear without the obstruction of any title images.

Your book needs to be copyrighted. Unless you’re okay with others stealing its content and reaping the rewards for themselves, that is.

We have a great guide on what it takes to copyright a book right here for you to view, but here are some of the basics.

  • Technically a book is copyrighted as you write it. But if you want it to be fully legal, you do have to pay to have it copyrighted.
  • Your copyright content will change depending on the type of book you’re writing.
  • There are certain copyrights you cannot have exclusive rights to depending on what you cover in your book, which is usually impacted the most by what you write in a memoir and its legality
Copyright Page Section Of A Book Taken From Chandler Bolt'S Book

4 – Table of Contents

There are a lot of reasons to have a table of contents in your book. For one, it helps readers know where to find the information they’re really looking for.

Secondly, this is highly useful in kindle or ebook versions of your book in order to help readers click and navigate without having to actually arrow over through the pages to get there.

The happier the reader, the better the reviews they leave.

What is a table of contents?

A table of contents is a list of a book’s chapters or sections with the heading name and often the page number if there are no links inside.

Here’s an example of this part of a book:

What A Table Of Contents Section Should Look Like In An Ebook

5 – Dedication

This is the part of a book that most of us write long before the actual book is finished…we just tend to jot it down in our minds instead of on paper.

Your book dedication is like your acceptance speech when given an award. Except your book is the award and therefore, you get to write this “speech” and place it where everyone can read it before even starting the book.

This dedication often comes after the title page and before the table of contents.

It’s a short few sentences thanking whomever helped you get to the point of writing the book or just people you want to acknowledge as thanks.

This is an example of what a dedication of your book may look like from our own Biz Dev Legend Pedro Mattos’ debut book I Wish Everyone Was an Immigrant:

An Example Of The Dedication Page Part Of A Book, Taken From Pedro Mattos' Debut Book

6 – Foreword

If you’re looking to increase your credibility, get a book endorsement by someone who knows you and your story well, then a foreword is what you want.

What is a foreword?

A foreword is an introduction to a book written by someone other than the author that lends credibility to the author’s status to write the book.

Think of a foreword as a sort of endorsement of the book. The person who writes it is usually an author themselves, though they can also just be a person of authority in the same or similar field.

Example Of How A Book Foreword Can Act As An Endorsement Section Using The Go-Giver By Bob Burg

Above is an example of a foreword from The Go-Giver by Bob Burg.

Forewords typically come after the table of contents and before the introduction or first chapter of the book.

Part 1 Of An Infographic Detailing The Parts Of A Book.

7 – Prologue

Fiction is where prologues live. Oftentimes, stories may need additional context before the actual story begins for the reader to make sense of it and elements within the book itself.

What is a prologue?

A prologue is a short chapter that usually takes place before the main story begins as a means of granting understanding to the reader. It’s also used to increase intrigue and captivate readers.

Not all books require prologues and in fact, if you can write your novel without it, that’s actually preferred as many readers skip the prologue altogether.

Below is an example of a prologue from the very popular Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin.

Prologue Book Part Example From Game Of Thrones By George R.r Martin

8 – Epilogue

Not all book series get happily-ever-after endings. When your book series ends but you want a way to let the readers know what’s in store for the characters’ futures, an epilogue is a strong way to do that.

What is an epilogue?

An epilogue is a short chapter that comes after the last chapter of a book as a way to tie the story together in a conclusion.

Essentially, the epilogue is the answer to the question, “What happens to them next?” This serves as a more satisfying way to let readers know that characters live “happily ever after.”

Sometimes the ending of the story isn’t satisfying enough for readers.

That part of their story may end, but if your readers want a more in-depth look at their life “after” the story, that’s when an epilogue would come into play to tie everything together.

9 – Epigraph

Epigraphs aren’t necessarily important, nor are they required. Oftentimes, these short snippets serve as a way to let readers know what lesson or subject will be covered in the chapter.

What is an epigraph?

An epigraph is a short question, quote, or even a poem at the beginning of a chapter meant to indicate the chapter’s theme or focus. This often ties the current work to predecessors with similar ideas and learnings.

For example, below is an epigraph from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.

An Example Of An Epigraph From The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People

10 – Book introduction

Most nonfiction books include an introduction to the book—a chapter before your first chapter as a means to introduce yourself and your credibility or author on the subject matter to your readers.

Your book introduction is extremely important for showing your readers why they should read the book and how you’re the person to help them with whatever problem your book solves.

One of the best ways to do this is to first establish the pain points your book helps to solve, and then make it clear how you, someone they don’t know, can help with this issue. This is the typical strategy for writing a self-help book that really impacts readers.

This usually involves some of your own backstory, but keep it specific to the problem at hand. Your readers don’t need an entire rundown of your personal history.

11 – Inciting incident

If you’re writing fiction, you may have come across the term “inciting incident” before.

What is an inciting incident?

This is an early part of a book that’s the point of no return for your characters. The inciting incident is what kicks your plot into full drive.

Here are a couple examples of inciting incidents:

  • Katniss volunteers to take her sister’s place in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Tobias enters the Tournament and gets accepted in The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci
  • Bella moves to Forks, where she meets Edward in biology class in Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
  • Bran gets pushed off the wall in Winterfell when he catches Jaime and Cersei Lannister together in Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

These are all points in the novel that the characters cannot come back from. In this instance, their lives are changed forever, which drives the plot forward.

12 – Sections of a book

This will mostly pertain to nonfiction authors, we’ll cover the fiction equivalent in the next section.

Some nonfiction books are written with different parts. These are usually separated into 3 parts that make up a greater whole in the book.

For example, in the book I’m currently writing, I break it up into 3 separate sections. Each part has its own focus and theme but they all work with one another to achieve a greater purpose.

Here’s an example of how the sections of my book work:

  • Part 1 – This part focuses on how your childhood impacts your adult behaviors
  • Part 2 – This part aims to show readers how to move past their childhood and get control of their “now”
  • Part 3 – This section moves beyond getting control and focuses on how readers can work toward building the future they both want and deserve despite their childhood traumas

Each part of this book has a main focus and theme but when utilized together, they form a solution to a larger problem.

13 – Act structure

In fiction, instead of creating separate sections like in the example above, you may split your work into different acts.

Most commonly used is the three act structure.

Although this isn’t required of novels, it’s still quite popular to write a book with this structure, as it forms a cohesive order of events that are proven to be intriguing to readers.

A popular example of this 3 act structure is in Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes, featured below.

3 Act Structure Example Showing Books In Parts

14 – First slap

If you’re familiar with our lingo around how to write a novel, or you’re an author already, you may have heard of the first and second slap.

These are pivotal points in your character’s journey that further the plot and often make their efforts more difficult.

The first slap is often the biggest setback for your character following the inciting incident.

Here are some examples of what a “first slap” is in popular stories:

  • Katniss entering the hunger games after trials and tests
  • Bella finding out Edward is a vampire in Twilight
  • Tobias’s first challenge in the tournament in The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci

All of these have one thing in common: they make the lives harder for the characters.

15 – Second slap

Like the first slap, the second slap is a pivotal point in the novel where your protagonist faces a downfall, most often after having a win or two under their belt since the first slap.

The second slap needs to be placed shortly after your readers have gained hope in your character’s ability to succeed in whatever their goal is.

The idea behind this is to hook your readers again and let them know that it is not all smooth sailing for your characters throughout the rest of the book.

Oftentimes, the second slap is worse than the first, where 90% of your character’s hope in succeeding is lost and therefore, your readers will lose hope too. This makes them root for your character even more, increasing the amount they care for your character.

16 – Climax

We all know the climax of the book is the most important part. It’s where your character faces the biggest obstacle in achieving their goal in the book.

Here are a few examples of climaxes in popular books:

  • Whenever Harry Potter comes face-to-face with Voldemort in the books
  • Katniss and Peeta are up against one more foe before “winning” the games in the first book
  • Bella gets taken by James and Edward has to fight to save her

The climax is the last challenge before the ending, or resolution, of your book. It is the point of the highest tension and it’s where your character faces the worst odds—worse than the first and second slaps.

Part 2 Of An Infographic Detailing The Parts Of A Book.

17 – Acknowledgements

We all have people in our lives to acknowledge for our success in writing a book.

Much like the dedication, the acknowledgments are meant to recognize impactful people in our lives. These, unlike the dedication, typically come at the end of the book and can be written in longer, paragraph form as opposed to a short sentence for each.

18 – Author bio

Not all books contain an author bio in it, specifically fiction (unless it’s a hardback copy).

If you’re writing a nonfiction book, however, is a type where the author bio can be at the bottom of the back page of your book, beneath the back cover synopsis.

Your author bio doesn’t have to be very long. Keep it short and simple while still showing your readers your credibility in what your book covers.

19 – Coming soon / Read more

This part of a book might not matter to you unless you have a book series or multiple books to your name.

The coming soon and read more pages are used to help your readers purchase and read more of your books.

This section of a book often comes at the very end, after your epilogue and acknowledgments. It’s a single page with the cover images of your other book/s, their titles, and links for your ebook copy.

This not only makes it easier for your readers to buy the next book, but it’s also a great way to sell more books overall.

20 – Back cover or synopsis of a book

I saved the best (and most important) for last. The back cover, also known as the synopsis of your book, is by far the most critical for getting people to buy.

Without a good synopsis to hook readers and buy them into your book, you won’t sell.

These are crucial for both fiction and nonfiction.

With your fiction synopsis, you want to create intrigue and show your readers that they’ll get a good story. The trick is doing this with a few short paragraphs.

Here’s an example of a fiction synopsis that works, from Fundamentals of Fiction author Leigh Robert’s Endings and Beginnings: Wrak-Ayya: The Age of Shadows Book 10.

Parts Of A Book - Fiction Back Cover Example

Here’s a nonfiction example of the back cover from Lisa Zelenak’s Find Your Thing:

The Back Part Of A Book Shown By The Rear Cover Of 'Find Your Thing' By Lisa Zelenak

Parts of a book all have a purpose

As you can see, these look very different, though they serve the same purpose. The back of your book is the first thing someone reads in order to decide if they want to buy your book.

Make it concise, convincing, and show them the value they’ll get from reading it—be that an entertaining read or a solution to their problem.

Part 3 Of An Infographic Detailing The Parts Of A Book.

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Choose your Fiction or Nonfiction book type below to get your free chapter by chapter outline!

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Enter your details below and get your pre-formatted outline in your inbox and start writing today!


Thanks for submitting! Check your email for your book outline template.

In the meantime, check out our Book Outline Challenge.

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Parts of a Book FAQ

What are the major parts of a book?

The main parts of a book include the book cover, title page, copyright page, table of contents, dedication, foreword, prologue, epilogue, epigraph, book introduction, inciting incident, sections of the book, act structure, first slap, second slap, climax, acknowledgements, author bio, coming soon/read more, and the back cover or synopsis.

What is the general structure of a book?

A book generally starts with the front cover, followed by the title page, copyright page, and table of contents. Then it moves into the main content, which includes the introduction, chapters, and sometimes sections or acts. It wraps up with the acknowledgements, author bio, and the back cover or synopsis.

What is the layout of a book?

The layout of a book includes the cover, front matter (title page, copyright, table of contents), main content (introduction, chapters, sections), and back matter (acknowledgements, author bio, synopsis).

What is the table of contents of a book?

The table of contents lists the chapters or sections of a book along with their page numbers. It’s usually found at the beginning of the book and helps readers navigate to specific parts quickly.

What is the back of a book called?

The back of a book is typically referred to as the back cover or synopsis. It usually includes a summary of the book, an author bio, and sometimes reviews or endorsements.

What are the features of a book?

Features of a book include the cover, title page, copyright page, table of contents, dedication, foreword, prologue, introduction, chapters or sections, epilogue, acknowledgements, author bio, and back cover synopsis. These elements help structure the book and provide important information to the reader.

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