Beyond The Book Façade

A book isn’t only the message or the story caught and tamed by words on paper.

A book is a beautiful work of art in itself… if you’re enough to find a beautiful one. From the cover illustration to the paper stock and the typeface the publisher chooses, it all works together to create something unique and tactile, something you want to look at and touch and smell, as well as read.

I’m on a mission to help business owners not just write books, but create beautiful books people want to display on their shelves. There’s always room for a special limited edition with a beautiful binding and stunning illustrations.

And, of course, a frontispiece. I want to bring back the frontispiece.

The word “frontispiece” means façade, and you may have heard it relating to architecture: according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it’s “the principal front of a building, or a decorated pediment over a portico or window.”

It’s also part of a book — or it used to be. You don’t see them often these days, which is a shame.

Again, Merriam-Webster defines the frontispiece of a book as “an illustration preceding and usually facing the title page of a book or magazine.”

That’s not the whole story, though. There’s more to a frontispiece than simply a pretty picture.

It is indeed a decorative or informative illustration on the verso (left-hand) page facing the title page, but it’s different from decorated endpapers or an illustration on the title page.

The frontispiece is like a little advert for your book, dating from the days before blurbs on the back cover or online advertising pages. It’s like an intelligent version of a #mybookisbrilliant tweet and I’d love to bring the frontispiece back…

Back in the old days, like today, if you wanted someone to read your book, you had to make your book look enticing. Adding an illustration right at the start was a good way to do that.

Here are a couple of cool examples.

This one is from The English Dance of Death, and tells a little of the story you might find inside the book: a pensive Death sits atop the world, surrounded by the instruments of his trade.


And this one is from The Pilgrim’s Progress, showing a tantalising glimpse into their perilous journey and hinting at what the ending might be.


Finally, Leviathan by Thomas Hobbs, which includes a series of illustrations from different points in the story.


Printing a standard edition with a frontispiece would be a hefty investment — but there’s no reason why you couldn’t publish a limited edition hardback version of your book containing fantastic details like a frontispiece, decorated endpapers, and spectacular bindings.

Writing a book for your business is all about standing out, but it’s never been easier to mass-produce paperbacks. What can you offer as a little added value extra? An exclusive, deluxe version of your standard book?

What can you create that makes people line up to buy from you?

About the Author

Vicky Fraser

Please do share any articles from this site in part or in full — as long as you leave all links intact, give credit to the author, and include a link to this website and the following bio. Vicky is a gin-quaffing, pole-dancing, trapeze-swinging copywriter who writes about the perils and joys of writing, velociraptor training, and running a small business. She writes this stuff on her websites and She’s the author of one book (with two more in utero) and teaches small business owners how to write copy that sells, and how to be more fecking interesting. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

I write all sorts of stories about books and self-publishing. You can keep up with them all by hopping onto the best daily email list in the multiverse using that box down there ⬇⬇⬇


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