Anatomy of Book Content: Focus on Body Matter
Commercial publishers view the “Body Matter” portion of book content as the “guts” or “meat” of the book content. The body matter content consists of the sections and chapters of your book.
For consumer trade nonfiction books that appeal to a general audience, the overall page count should range between 150-300 print/digital pages including front and back matter. Since this genre is to appeal to a general audience, chapter content should consist of about 15 pages maximum. Text should consist of simple words or plain language, plus graphics interspersed to emphasize the main text points. Key elements in consumer trade nonfiction books include:
- Meet a Personal Goal for end user to achieve and maintain with your content;
- Add Draw-out boxes to showcase specific or primary points within the text of the page;
- General audiences are fond of content showcased with attractive graphics;
- Add checklists because they are a common way for end users to respond positively to your content;
- Health/diet and nutrition books should all contain fitness exercises with repetitions and weekly frequency (add graphics of the exercises to accompany the words as a visual representation of the exercise). Recipes should be included with common ingredients available at most grocery centers (notations for portion sizes and the number of people that the recipe will serve is recommended);
- Provide examples of plans that can be set up and maintained easily for individuals;
- Offer blank-lined space as an incentive for the reader to make notations to set up their own plan to be maintained using the contents of your books as a guide in their personal lives.
Some notes about consumer trade nonfiction eBooks tips for designing content:
Most consumer trade nonfiction eBook are being developed in ePub reflowable text format that is compatible with Android and Apple tablets and smartphone devices. They are also being developed in MOBI or KF8 format that is compatible with Amazon Kindle devices and ereaders.
- Whenever possible, add video demonstration links to your website (such as video demonstrations for cooking recipes) to increase traffic to your website;
- If creating an eBook, be sure to offer links throughout the pages to point to additional references of information that may be relevant through your website and cross-referenced to other pertinent content that can be found within this book;
- Remember, eBooks don’t usually include indexes. As an alternative, you will want to provide a list of links to those references for your book designer to create “links” within the text content of your eBook;
- Request graphic designer to add a popup screen with the definition of a word or acronym within the chapter body text for eBooks –this replaces the need for a back matter glossary of terms;
- eBooks should contain a bookmarked table of contents that directly links to the chapter where that content resides. In today’s fast-paced society, links to chapters are used for end users to quickly read and review the information that applies to their immediate needs instead of reading through the entire book in sequential order.
Currently, academic textbooks are primarily offered in printed format as this genre often contains complex figures and tables that do not play nicely with reflowable ebook documents on most devices available in today’s marketplace. However, as more devices accept ePub 3 and enhanced formatting to include embedded audios and videos, academic textbooks in reflowable eBook content may become more acceptable to students and professors in the future.
For academic textbooks, students are accustomed to the format outline presented by commercial academic publishers that usually include these content elements within each chapter:
- Main points of chapter subject matter; Text is often more technical;
- Heavy use of large tables, charts, graphs that are usually displayed as figures to accompany the chapter body text;
- Case Study links (at least two) to videos on a website showcased as “real world” examples;
- Group participant problems to solve for classroom discussions;
- Chapter Review with questions for the reader to answer.
Introductory curriculum textbooks usually contain about 200-400 pages total (front and back matter included). Advanced curriculum course textbooks can encompass between 300-700 content pages total (with front and back matter content).
- Page counts within chapters are not evenly split, according to the total pages within the book. Some chapters may be shorter than others, but chapter content is generally categorized based on topical content to flow throughout the book in a meaningful way.
Academic textbooks are often used by professors as course adoption texts. In these cases, a separate Instructors’ guide is usually furnished to the professor prior to the course adoption bookstore purchases. Normally, commercial publishers also offer a sample syllabus and lesson plans for group projects, term papers, and tests based on their academic textbooks for professor considerations.
In the last decade, many commercial publishers have been creating password-protected website centers targeted at the Instructor/Professor or student centers on their websites to offer additional learning resources and content for the specific user.
Federal Agency Content Notations:
If your Federal agency office is creating content for academic course adoptions, you will want to consider including supplemental items, such as sample tests; group participation discussion topics; sample syllabuses; term paper topics based on your academic content. This supplemental content should be posted to your website for professor and/or student access.
If your Federal agency office has a large sampling of unclassified documents on a DVD, it would be best to include an introduction to offer some guidance to the end user on how these documents can be used and why they are important. Additionally, if your target is for the documents to be used in a classroom setting, you should provide examples for use with students and possible lesson plans for the instructor to use.
Keywords: Print and Digital/eBooks, Body matter content; commercial publishing content advice; consumer trade nonfiction books, academic textbooks, Federal agency content publishers, content strategy
Background of Author of this Blog Post:
Maureen Whelan, Senior Marketing Team Leader for GPO’s Publication & Information Sales division program office in Washington, DC. Maureen oversees print and digital content dissemination strategy and manages third party free and paid content distribution platforms and vendors such as Apple iBookstore, Google Play eBookstore, EBSCOhost, Overdrive, and more. Additionally, Maureen’s commercial publishing industry experience with publishing requirements, copyrights, product formats and content metadata and search optimization have helped Federal agencies publications be more discoverable through these consumer channels. A few examples of commercially popular Federal print books that were successfully migrated to digital include The Healthy Woman and The Basic Guide to Exporting.