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What should be included in the colophon for self-publishing? 

Published at 
11 January 2023

When you read a book yourself, you probably often skip this page, the colophon. I don't, especially when it comes to study materials. In a colophon you will find the year of publication and on the basis of this you can determine whether the study material is not been out of date. 

The task of a colophon is therefore to inform you about who has been responsible for what, when was this and how can you be contacted. Even if you self-publish and you probably take on many of those tasks yourself.

What is a colophon? 

A colophon is a summary of how your book came about and gives a reader the opportunity to get in touch with you. This used to be with a physical address, nowadays this is through a website or social media, maybe even whatsapp or discord. 

You can find the colophon at the very front or at the very back of a book. In many books you will find it in the front, which is quite funny considering the word 'colophon' comes from the Greek word 'kolophon' which means final piece. With older books you will also find the colophon in the back. 

I personally also placed the colophon in the back of my picture book, purely because it is a children's book. A child is not interested in that information, he wants to see the picture with the title and then dive into the story. That was literally my reasoning for my choice.

What should be in a colophon? 

There are only unwritten rules for this, but it is important to include at least the following information in your colophon: 

  • The © with the year of your publication, name of publisher or author. Yes, this must be the © symbol otherwise it is not valid. 
  • The name of the author if not mentioned in the copyright 
  • The name of the publisher or imprint 
  • The ISBN 
  • The name of the illustrator in the book 
  • The name of who designed the cover

What is an imprint? 

An imprint is a trade name of a publishing house. For example, my publishing company name is 'Fictura Books', but suppose I decide to also publish non-fiction books, but do not want to (or cannot) create whole new publishing house for it. I can then make an imprint for this, which is still linked to Fictura Books. 

When publishers merge, imprints are also used, this is then the name of the publisher, but it is no longer an independent publisher but a trademark of another publisher.

What is optional but good to mention in a colophon 

Since not every book is the same, the content of a colophon page also differs. In addition to the points that you 'must' mention, there are many other things that you can add to your colophon. Such as: 

  • The original title if it concerns a translation of your book and the date of publication of the original title 
  • NUR code 
  • Website and/or email
  • Publisher's logo 
  • Final editor, the final check before going to print 
  • Translator 
  • Designer 
  • Social media accounts
  • Edition 
  • A copyright notice (i.e. nothing from this publication may be copied, etc) ISBN of other editions of the book (for example, the ebook, or audiobook)

What is a NUR code? 

I can already see you asking 'What is a NUR code again?'. NUR stands for 'Nederlandstalig Uniforme Rubrieksindeling' (Dutch Uniform Classification). This is, as it were, the theme of your book. This can be used by webshops in the search options. 

A list of all NUR codes can be found in the following PDF: 

The American variant for this is BISAC. Many Dutch parties also use these nowadays. See for more information.

Example of a colophon page 

Although it is best to just open a book to see an example, here are two colophon pages. Those of my Dutch book 'Boontje en het groentenmonster' and the English translation 'Pickle and the vegetable monster'.

colophon english pickle book 1
Colophon of Boontje en het groentenmonster (Dutch)
Colophon of Pickle and the vegetable monster (English)
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