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How to Write a Preface

Besides what you may have on your front or back cover, the preface is the best advertisement for people to determine if your story is worth reading. This is because it is the first thing most readers will actually look at after they’ve decided to open up your book. It should be intriguing, compelling, and provide a simple of summary of why the reader is going to want to read what you’ve written from start to finish.

It sounds simple on paper, but actually knowing how to write a preface that meets those needs can be downright frustrating. Take a deep breath, collect yourself, and consider these tips to help make your preface become as fantastic as you know it can be.

#1. Keep Your Description As Light As Possible.

The goal of the preface is to create curiosity. Discuss what the goal of the book happens to be without revealing too much about your characters, the plot, or what you want readers to learn. Discuss the questions you’re asking and the readers will keep going if they want to know those answers.

#2. Think About The Purpose Of Your Book.

There’s a good chance you didn’t staple your pants to a chair to write tens of thousands of words simply because you could. There was a purpose behind all of your hard work. Talk about that purpose in your preface and it will help the readers be able to connect with you on a more intimate level.

#3. Discuss The Reasons You Had For Finishing Your Story.

There are plenty of people who have started writing a book, but not every writer finishes the books they start. Discuss the motivation you had for finishing your story. Maybe you want to be inspiration. Maybe you want to make a point about the current state of society. If something influenced you, the preface is a great place to discuss that influence and why it is so important to you.

#4. Resources Can Be An Excellent Addition.

This is particularly relevant for a preface to a non-fiction book. If you pulled certain resources to compose the work that has been published, then including them in the preface can be a good thing. It’s also a great place to talk about what your personal experiences have been, the wisdom you’ve collected or given throughout the years, and even what your studying process happens to be.

#5. Difficult Books To Read Need a Little Authorly Advice.

Some books are easier to read than others. Instead of letting your readers decide your story is a “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel, consider using your preface to offer advice on how the story has been structured. Discuss things that might help the reader stay engaged. If you took special notes while writing or have specific resources that will help the content make more sense to the reader, think about including these as well.

#6. Writing Can Be a Challenging Process.

It can take months or even years to get a story completed. Discussing that process in the preface might seem self-serving to some, but to others it can communicate your dedication to the final product. A story doesn’t have to be perfect to be good, but if you’re trying to achieve perfection, many readers will appreciate those efforts and want to read what you’ve written because of it.

#7. Give Props To The Help That You’ve Received Along The Way.

The preface is also a good place to offer your thanks for the help that people have given you to create the story in the first place. You’ll often see family, friends, and research partners discussed, but you can have fun with it as well For example: while writing this content, I’d personally like to thank the Wrigley Company for making Skittles, coffee farmers for allowing me to have caffeine, and my dog who is scaring all of the door-to-door salespeople in my neighborhood away today so I can keep writing.

What do you think is going to impress the reader about what you’ve written? What do you think they’d like to find within your words? If you wanted to read your book, what would you want to look for within those words? Knowing how to write a preface means keeping many secrets and mysteries about your book hidden, but revealing enough clues so that a reader will want to become a detective. Follow these tips and you’ll be able to compose a preface that does just that.

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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