Does Your Book Content Measure Up? Publishing Industry Standards Every Author Needs to Know

By Chris Olsen

In this two-part series, I address publishing industry standards every author needs to know about content and production, as defined by the Independent Book Publishers Association. This article outlines content.

Why Industry Standards Matter

Industry standards are guidelines that help ensure products and services are fit for their intended purpose. While publishing industry standards continue to evolve, some practices have existed for hundreds of years. Consumers tend to gravitate toward titles from traditional publishers because they know what to expect—these publishers established many of the guidelines centuries ago and continue to follow them consistently.

On the other hand, readers and sellers of books may shy away from titles published by the author or independently because they do not meet industry standards or measure up in quality.

Content Standards

From a content standpoint, in general, books that meet publishing industry standards are free of plagiarism and written in a style that fits the genre and topic. Additionally, they have gone through three stages of professional editing—developmental editing, copy editing and proofreading. Content also encompasses essential elements that—in professionally published books—appear in a certain order and on specific pages.

Use this checklist to ensure your book meets industry standards:

Half-title page (optional)

  • First right-side (recto) page
  • Title and subtitle
  • Fonts from cover

Title page

  • Second (or first) right-side (recto) page
  • Title and subtitle
  • Author (or editor) name
  • Illustrator name
  • Publishing company name and/or logo
  • Fonts and design elements from cover

Copyright page

  • Left-side (verso) page (following title page)
  • Copyright symbol, holder and date
  • Author name
  • Title and subtitle
  • Edition number
  • LCCN (Library of Congress Control Number)
  • Printing history
  • Printing country
  • Publishing company name and/or logo and contact information
  • ISBN (International Standard Book Number)
  • Designer, illustrator and editor names
  • Disclaimers

Dedication page (optional)

  • Right-side (recto) page (following copyright page)
  • Brief statement of recognition for individuals or groups

Table of contents (optional)

  • Right-side (recto) page
  • List of chapter titles, subtitles and page numbers

Body content

  • Professionally edited
  • Accurate grammar, spelling and punctuation
  • Accurate and consistent facts throughout
  • Sources cited with footnotes or endnotes
  • Images credited with captions or endnotes

Notes page (optional)

  • Right-side (recto) page
  • Source citations
  • Image credits

Acknowledgments page (optional)

  • Right-side (recto) page
  • Statement of recognition for individuals or groups

Author page

  • Right-side (recto) page (following body content or optional pages)
  • Brief author biography and credentials
  • Author contact information

For guidelines on production, read “Does Your Book Look Professionally Produced? Publishing Industry Standards Every Author Needs to Know.”

About the Author

Chris Olsen is a broadcast media veteran turned communications consultant, educator and the author of “Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose.” The founder of Publish Her and Publish Her Story, Chris has helped thousands of women tell their stories and publish their books.

About Publish Her

Publish Her is a female-founded publisher dedicated to elevating the words, writing and stories of women. We are passionate about amplifying the voices of women of color, women with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ community. We aim to make publishing an attainable, exciting and collaborative process for all.


Previous Post
Celebrating Black Women-Owned Bookstores
Next Post
Does Your Book Look Professionally Produced? Publishing Industry Standards Every Author Needs to Know

Related Posts