Foreword, introduction & preface
There are three optional sections that may come before the first chapter of your nonfiction book.
The Foreword is written by someone else to introduce you and the topic. It's usually meant for "brand transference" or credibility boosting. Try to find an author your audience likes, knows and trusts. Getting them to introduce you would be a big win. If you're starting from a cold audience, you should first follow them, share their content, and interact a little so they recognize your name. Then they're more likely to open an introductory email. I sometimes find it easier to reach people with a direct Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn message.
You'd need to introduce your subject, why they would be perfect to write the Foreword, your publishing and marketing plans, how your can help them with THEIR agenda or projects. This will be easier if you've established your own platform (if you want to learn how to do that, get the Reach Your Readers course, or the 21 Day Author Platform when it comes out).
I would actually do a full content marketing campaign and strategy to start building up resources around your book, and use that to include some quotes or stories you found within the book (more on being inclusive later...) That way you could have already established a few touchpoints with your ideal Foreword writers, already communicated a few times (for example to ask if you can feature a blog post or quote from them in your book - something you don't NEED to do, as long as your use is not defamatory and is less than 1% the entire work, as long as you cite the source it should fall under fair use - but asking them anyway helps start the relationship.
I'd actually build up a gallery of image quotes first, and feature their quote and their book on social media and tag them, so they see the work I've done into promoting their content and warm up to me, before I emailed them.
It doesn't hurt to ask, so dream big, but if you DON'T get someone famous or trustworthy, a Foreword may not be useful. You don't want one from your neighbor or dentist, if it isn't directly increasing your credibility.
In SOME resources, you'll find the preface and the foreword converging as one piece of front matter - for example in a graduate academic study. But when we talk books, the Foreword is usually written by someone else.
The Preface comes next. It's by the author, and is kind of a disclaimer or warning label. It's all the stuff the author wants to communicate before actually getting to the real content of the book. It could be the author's story, who they are and why they are an expert at this. It could be a simple declaration of intent - what the author's purpose or mission is.
You can use the preface to build intrigue and drama, to demonstrate why this topic is necessary and important, how you as the author came to be fascinated with solving this problem or exploring this subject.
The Introduction follows. Some people confuse the preface with the introduction - there doesn't seem to be a universal standard, so different authors approach these differently. I would suggest the following division:
- The Preface explains the WHY - why this book is needed and necessary
- The Introduction explains the WHAT - how this book is organized, the main topics and subjects, the benefits of continued reading.
In addition, there are some extra things you should do in the Front Matter of your book, that can be very powerful if used well. Besides the basic structure (credibility, the why, the what) you also need to focus on inciting desire and commitment to read your book. Your Front Matter is still SALES copy, because some people will just be skimming through it, but even if they've bought it already, it's job is not to educate, it's to arrest.
Don't get boring and nerdy.
Tease and refer.
Toss out big numbers and case studies. Drop names, list benefits and subjects, share the sexiest anecdotes. Convince the readers that YOU have the solution to their problems, or at least some fascinating content that will make this learning experience engaging and enjoyable.
Awhile ago I broke down this case study from Napoleon Hill's classic Think and Grow Rich. Over and over, Napoleon claims ALL readers can change their lives if they discover the secret, that is "hidden" in every page of his book, but will be different for everyone, but they WILL discover it if they read his book slowly and carefully.
Case Study: Write and Grow Rich
You can click the link above to read it in full, but basically I found 11 principles to Front Matter.
- Hook - promise big results your audience wants
- Story - keep it immediate and vivid
- Focus - give them a task for active reading
- Difference - unlike everything else, this is new and different
- Credibility - case studies and concrete examples of success
- Ability - anybody can do this, without any special skills or knowledge
- Visualization - picture yourself getting value and seeing results
- Objections - voice their questions and dismantle them "believe me"
- Screening - SOME people won't do the work, but a FEW will.
- Value anchors - the best, most useful, most fascinating information
- Third party proof - Foreword, case study, short intro (can also be a list of 5 star book reviews, stuck to the front matter of your book).
All of this stuff comes in the beginning, JUST to get them to take the time to actually read your book! I've seen all of this used really well in online sales funnels - something I'll talk a lot more about in the 21 day author platform course.
Basically, before you can ever get anyone to BUY anything from you, first you have to get them to LISTEN. You can get permission to email them if you have an optin offer - the reason it works is so that you'll have multiple chances to prove your worth with valuable content, whereas if you were pushing them towards a paid product, you'd only have one chance for them to say yes or no.
With a funnel, you can slowly communicate value, while building trust and rapport, and presuade them with desire - so that WHEN you present your offer, they're educated about why it's needed and primed to buy.
Recently I was watching a very polished video funnel, and focused on JUST the words they were using.
Here's some of the language you can and should use, in your preface and introduction. (A lot of these will fit neatly into the 11 categories I set up above, see if you can match them!)
Language to use:
Many versus few: "ever wonder why SOME people succeed easily, while most struggle and never accomplish what they want? MOST people will never figure out. But a FEW individuals have discovered the secret and are doing something totally new that's revolutionizing the industry."
Tired of X: "are you tired of X, doing the same things over and over, not seeing results, frustrated, need something new to finally help you achieve the results you want?"
Promise Results: "By the time you finish reading this entire book, you'll not only have answers to all these questions, but you'll have the (benefits) to (easily/quickly) achieve the results you want, faster than you ever thought possible."
***Make sure you ACTUALLY know what your audience's real goal is... for example, I can't just talk about selling books, because most authors don't actually write for money; telling them they can earn a living isn't motivating enough, because most of them WANT to be recognized, they want to write full-time, or build a platform or business, or win literary awards and become cultural icons.
You're here for a reason: "If you're reading this right now, it's because you (have this problem) and are ready to (find a solution). You're in the right place, at the right time, committed to forever solving your problem."
Cross the bridge: if you're ready to stop (all the unpleasant pain points) and finally (do all the big positive benefits, without all the pain points).
Something different: as you read this, you'll discover a totally new, revolutionary strategy/process/trick, a total shift that's happening, and allowing some people to get ahead.
Surprisingly simple: even though it's amazing, it's also easy and simple, and won't take much time.
Three case studies: detailed stories of how people just like them had a common problem and overcame it, to great results. Add specific details.
Visualization: What do YOU need or want? "Imagine what your life will look like after you use this same strategy to achieve the same results."
Motivation: "You can do this, if you want to. I'm going to show you exactly how. If you use the information in this book and apply it, you will be one of the new group of successful people, and finally experience all the amazing benefits."
Contrast: "Or you can keep doing what you've been doing... frustration, pain points, feeling stuck."
Choice: "You have a choice: the good, successful future, or the limited, frustrating past. If you do nothing, where will you be a year from now, still facing the same problem. Or you can finish this book, take action, and transform your life."
Author Introduction: AFTER you've already got them on board, you can add a short bio. If this is the preface or introduction, I'd focus mostly on the benefits, convincing them to take action, and only briefly introduce your credentials. Why they should trust YOU with this subject.
In all of this, we STILL haven't really dived into the main content, though we may have outlined the structure and roadmap where going to follow.
The three things
Towards the end of this video, I stressed the 3 main things your Front Matter should do:
- Build Trust and Rapport
- Prove Credibility with Case Studies and Testimonials
- Motivate them to Take Action
But I realized I would *actually* only do a short, professional bio with personal accomplishments in the front matter, and focus on the benefits, credibility and motivation (they won't care about you or your story until after you've hooked their interest by focusing on the subjects or benefits they're personally interested in).
AFTER you have their psychological buy-in, you can go deeper into your personal transformation story (usually your single epiphany or wake-up moment when you decided you HAD to explore/master/discover a new thing, the quest you undertook, the setbacks and eventual triumphs.
This could all be chapter one though, of the book introducing yourself and how you can to discover the One Thing, then the rest of the book would be actually breaking down and exploring that one thing, usually broken up into smaller categories.