Foreword Vs. Preface Vs. Introduction: A Guide For Self-Publishers

It is essential for a self-publisher to understand the differences between the foreword, preface, and introduction of a book. Each section plays a vital role in the critical and financial success of the book. Without these three sections, a non-fiction book is incomplete, and not giving the readers their money’s worth. Therefore, I have laid out some basic definitions of each section to help give the self-publisher a starting point before they begin their first book.

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Thank you to Barbara Pittman for linking to this article from her website

Thank you to Barbara Pittman for linking to this article from her website

1. The Foreword (Why the reader should read the book)
The foreword is the place for a guest author to show the reader why they should be reading this book. The foreword of a book is a major selling tool for the book. If it is written properly, and by the appropriate person for the job, the book’s author will gain a lot of credibility in the reader’s eyes. It is important to remember that the author of the book should not write the foreword. Instead, the author of the book can use the preface as well as the introduction to say what needs to be said about the book.  Forewords introduce the reader to the author, as well as the book itself, and attempt to establish credibility for both. A foreword does not generally provide the reader any extra specific information about the book’s subject. But instead, it serves as a reminder of why the reader should read the book. The foreword must make an emotional connection with the reader.

Thank you to Laura Lee for linking to this article from her website"

Thank you to Laura Lee for linking to this article from her website”

2. The Preface (How the book came about)
The preface is a place for the book’s author to tell the reader how this book came into being, and why. It should build credibility for the author and the book. The preface is very similar to the foreword, except that the preface is written by the book’s author. The preface is also an important selling tool for the book. Here the author should explain why they wrote the book, and how they came to writing it. The author should be showing the reader why they are worth reading.

Thank you very much to Kristan Lukasak of for linking to this article.

Thank you very much to Kristan Lukasak of for linking to this article.

3. The Introduction (About the content of the book)
The introduction introduces the material that is covered in the book. Here the author can set the stage for the reader, and prepare them for what can be expected from reading the book. The introduction is a way for the author to grab the reader, and intensify the reader’s desire to find out more, and hopefully devour the entire book. In the introduction the author can quickly and simply tell the reader what is to be revealed in much greater detail if they continue reading.

As you can see, it is imperative to understand the basic differences in these three book sections in order to produce a professional looking and complete self-published book. Each section is clearly different, and each performs a specific function in a book. Therefore, a self-publisher will need to put a lot of thought and effort into producing these vital three sections.

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This article is also mentioned on Barbara Pittman’s website
This article is also mentioned on Laura Lee’s website

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About Joseph C. Kunz, Jr.

Author, self-publisher, educator, infopreneur, small-business manager and marketing expert, husband, and father of twins. Kunz is also a digital-media junkie fascinated by the intersection of media, design, education, and technology. Kunz is the founder of Dickson Keanaghan, LLC, a medical training and publishing company.
This entry was posted in Book Marketing, Foreword, Front Matter, Introduction, Preface, Promotion, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Foreword Vs. Preface Vs. Introduction: A Guide For Self-Publishers

  1. Pingback: Did you ever wonder about this? | How to BELIEVE in yourself as a writer

  2. Nithesh Bharatwaj.G says:

    the information is worth reading

    really good

  3. Brad says:

    Good stuff, Joe. Thanks for laying it out.

  4. Pingback: what’s the difference between a preface, an introduction, and a foreword? « The Letters Project

  5. Very helpful information. That’s the first time I’ve ever really understood the differences between those.

  6. Ann Boulet says:

    Found your info very helpful and your comments very encouraging. Thank you!

  7. ohh, just wanted to say, I liked this post. It was practical. Keep on posting!

  8. Marissa says:

    Very helpful, and explained in plain English. thank you

  9. A real beginner, once published then realized errors! Thanks for making a revision of my non-fiction better! Good, thorough, simple.

  10. Lynne G. says:

    Thanks so much for this. I had been asked to write an ‘Introduction’ and given the author’s ‘Preface.’ I really got stuck and after reading this realized why – the Introduction had already been written as part of the preface and I was meant to be writing the Forward. Have shared this with the author and now we’re on the right track. Cheers.

  11. Janet Williams says:

    Yes — I’m alive! As requested: this post is very clear and concise. Thanks for explaining Foreward, Preface, and Introduction.

  12. Pingback: Making Sense of a Foreword, Preface & Introduction | Getting On Top

  13. Finally, a clear, specific and to the point definition of what others beat around the bush trying to say. Thank you. I’m off to follow your suggestions!!!!!

  14. Glad I came across your article. Just thinking about the setting out of my book and where to put things, grateful to get some good advice. Thanks

    • Joseph C. Kunz, Jr. says:

      Hi Sandra. Thank you for the comments. Good luck with your new book. I look forward to hearing more about it. Joe

  15. Thank you very much for explaining the difference between these three. I was about to write a foreword for my own book. Now I know I need to write an introduction and leave the foreword to someone else.

    • Joseph C. Kunz, Jr. says:

      Hi Miquilaue, Thank you for the comments. I’m happy to hear that you found it helpful. Good luck with your new book. Joe

  16. Katherine says:

    Hi! Great article. One question, though: About how long is an acceptable length for the introduction for a non-fiction book?

    • Joseph C. Kunz, Jr. says:

      Hi Katherine, As a general rule, I think that the length of the book’s introduction should be determined by the overall length of the book. The length of the intro should be in proportion to the book’s length. For example, the shorter the book is, the shorter the introduction should be. If you make the intro too long you risk losing or boring the reader even before they get to the main content. Secondly, if the book’s topic is complicated, or for a very advanced/educated audience, the intro might need to explain the topic in more depth, and end up being longer. Thank you for your question. I hope this helps. Joe

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