Often misunderstood, and sometimes misspelled (forward, foreward), the Foreword is a useful – though not essential – part of your business or self-help book. It sets the stage for you, the author, and if written by someone with a well-known or often-searched name, can help marketing and sales of your book.
The Foreword lets the reader know in a short summary what the book is about and why it is important or significant. It is able to contextualise and “sell” the book and you, the author, from an objective but knowledgeable point of view.
Who writes the Foreword?
Not you, the author! You write your own Introduction, but the author usually asks an experienced and qualified person in their own industry or market (and that of the book), or simply someone very well-known, whose name helps validate the work and endorse the expertise of the author, to write the Foreword.
What should they say?
The writer of the Foreword should think in terms of engaging the reader’s attention quickly. Ideally it should start with an intriguing hook – a question or statement that grabs attention and introduces the subject matter.
The Foreword should set the context in which the writer (of the Foreword) knows about the market and its problems, and gives a personal/professional connection to the subject of the book. It’s a good place for the writer to blow their own trumpet subtly; it’s one of the payoffs for writing a Foreword for someone else’s book, but it’s a win-win for them and the author.
The Foreword should summarise the market’s (readers’) central problem or question (the reason why they picked up or bought the book); and the author’s big promise (solution to the market’s question provided in the book).
Then it should explain how the Foreword writer knows the author and their expertise in this field; it should emphasise how well the author does what they do (outside the book, in their business) and therefore how qualified the author is to write this book.
The writer should then ideally highlight some specific content, areas or solutions in the book, as a “teaser” to the reader. And talk about specific benefits the book will bring to the reader.
Some Forewords are very short – as little as 200 words – but 500 – 1,000 words is ideal.
The writer should end the Foreword with a big plug for the book and its author, and sign off with their name, credentials or title/company, title of a recent book if they have written one, and their website URL.
Lucy McCarraher, author of How To Write Your Book Without The Fuss, Managing Editor of Rethink Press www.rethinkpress.com