Synopsis: A foreword, preface, and introduction can each play a pivotal in a book’s marketing plan. Understanding the differences, and how to use each to your advantage, can help propel your book to critical and financial success.
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 new self-publishers a starting point before beginning their first book.
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.
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.
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 the book. Therefore, a self-publisher will need to put a lot of thought and effort into producing these three vital sections.
Questions for us to think about and discuss:
1. Can anyone discuss how one or more of these sections helped their book?
2. Has anyone gotten any feedback from their readers about one of these sections?
• This article is also posted on Danielle de Valera’s blog The Manuscript Assessor
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• This article is also mentioned on Barbara Pittman’s website PittmanLettersProject.com
• This article is also mentioned on Laura Lee’s website StressManagementForWriters.WordPress.com
• This article is also posted on Kristan Lukasak’s website GettingOnTop.org
• This article is also posted on Billi Joy Carson’s website Editing Addict.com
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