Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 3/07/14

Is It An Introduction, a Foreword or a Preface?

When talking with a new client about her thoughts for a non-fiction book—bantering ideas about the best way to move forward—we came upon a method I’d not tried before: Write the Foreword First.  With her extensive notes in place and the belief that research will be minimal, she (and I) now needed to grab hold of the CORE of her story.  I translate this as the Concentrated, Organized Reflection of the Essence of what she wants to communicate to her readers.  Although this task was not as easy as we both expected, we now have a solid understanding of where we’re going.  This is exciting because she has her self-publishing plans already in place and we know this book will be in the hands of readers very soon!

For all authors, it is essential to understand this CORE of what they are writing or the book will traipse along so many rabbit trails readers will be lost.  So defining the difference between an Introduction, a Foreword and a Preface is extremely useful.

  • An Introduction does exactly what the dictionary says: it gives an outline or overview of what to expect in the book.  The author writes this to inform the readers about what they will discover on the following pages.  Most every textbook and/or scholarly book will use this method, which I compare to an Index in prose form.
  • A Foreword is usually written by someone other than the author; someone who has read the manuscript, supports the theme or thesis, and is happy to encourage readers to take us this book and READ IT.  Adding their “name” to the credibility of the contents is an excellent benefit to the author in the areas of respect and confidence as well as enhancing marketability.
  • THE PREFACE, however, is my favorite form to use.  It is also the most personal.  The author has the opportunity—in these few paragraphs—to open the reader’s imagination to the heart of what they will find in the book.  It goes beyond the “telling” of details by using words that inspire the reader and lets them know that what is      written on these pages will benefit them in ways they did not expect.

Here are a few questions for authors to answer when creating one of these opening statements:

  1. WHY does a reader pick up or consider buying a book in the first place?  They want to know, “WHAT will this book GIVE me?”  Textbook information?  Escape?  Emotional Support? Etc.
  2. What is it about your book that “makes a difference” as compared to other books in the same genre and/or topic category?  Have you lived the experience?  Are you an expert in the field?
  3. TALK to that one reader who will most benefit from what you’ve written.  Speak to what is happening in their lives.  Let them know that this material IS USEFUL and relevant to and for them at this very moment.

Remain keenly aware that the writing you do for these paragraphs is usually the third place a reader looks when making the purchase decision (the cover and back cover being first and second).  If this does not grab their attention, all the work you’ve put into the creation of this book will not find its way home with them.  Whoever your publishing team is, seek their expertise in making sure this Introduction, Foreword, or Preface is the best it can be!

Royalene ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.

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