Have you been asked to write a foreword for a book? Then the first thing you need to do is actually read the book. The foreword you write must be a reflection of the message being offered. Many will try to take the shortcut of reading a chapter or two and reviewing the Table of Contents – that’s not enough. Take notes as you read the book, write the foreword to the intended audience, and you’ll have built the foundation for a great foreword.
If you’ve already completed this process and are feeling a little stuck, then here are some tips to help you know how to write a foreword for a book that will add to the value being offered to the reader.
#1. Keep it short. Most forewords are about 1,500 words or less. You’re not trying to add a new chapter to the book. You’re trying to introduce readers to the content they’re about to enjoy. Shoot for a minimum of 750 words.
#2. Talk about the author. Readers love forewords because it gives them a chance to hear about an author from an independent point of view. If you’ve been friends for years, then talk about that friendship and why it is important to you. Sometimes you can be asked to write a foreword from someone you may not know personally. In that instance, you’ll want to devote more time to the message offered in the book.
#3. Keep it light and fluffy. Your job in the foreword is pretty simple. All you need to do is help readers trust what you have to say about the author and then content they’re about to read. You don’t have to go into statistical process or quantum theorems to do this. Just keep things light and make it your goal to connect readers to the author on an emotional level. You can do this by keeping your writing to a personal, conversational tone.
#4. Why should people read this book? That is the ultimate question a foreword must be able to answer. You can answer it because you’ve read the book – right? What did you take away from your experience as a reader? Share some of the examples that you found to be profound and then offer real-world examples as to how you applied the lessons learned. When readers can see that you took the message to heart and implemented the advice you found to be relevant, they will do the same.
#5. Use specific examples from the book whenever possible. This is like those blog posts that include “famous inspirational quotes” as evidence that backs up their opinion on whatever subject matter is being discussed. You can take this same format and apply it to the foreword. Use quotes from the book to reinforce the value it contains, but from your personal perspective.
Or as Letitia Elizabeth Landon has said, “An apt quotation is like a lamp which flings its light over the whole sentence.” Help readers to see the light.
#6. Drop names like a boss. This is how we as humans promote our own expertise and importance, but it has to be realistic. “Yeah. When I was talked to Oscar Wilde the other day, our discussion on literature was quite profound.” That’s just not going to work. But if the book for which you’re writing a foreword on is about internet marketing and you happen to know Guy Kawasaki, then that would be a good name to drop.
#7. Summarize, then summarize again. If you had to write the promotional blurb on the back cover of the book, what would it say? A good foreword is one that summarizes the book in a sentence or two so that readers can get a glimpse of what the value proposition offered happens to be. This allows them to make a legitimate decision about reading the book that they wouldn’t have otherwise.
#8. Don’t forget about yourself, but don’t make the foreword about yourself. You writing a foreword gives a book a certain level of credibility. In essence, the author is name-dropping you by having you write this for them. So remember: the goal is to help the author sell more books with your foreword than without it. To do this, make sure that people know who you are and what your accomplishments have been. Prove that you’ve got the chops to be asked to write a foreword because you’re an industry expert. If you’ve won awards, mention this fact. If your title is ridiculously awesome, then include it.
Writing a foreword can be challenging. It can also be a whole lot of fun. Consider these tips if you’ve been asked to write a foreword and you’ll undoubtedly come up with something that will blow people’s minds.