“What’s the difference between a Foreword, a Preface and an Introduction – and where should they appear in my book?”
This is quite a common question when I’m helping new authors write their book, and in this post I will be explaining the differences between them, and the order of layout. I have also included a layout guide that will help you decide what you want in your book. You don’t need all of the items listed, but the ones I’ve underlined are the most common and I would recommend they’re included.
This is usually written by someone else – and, if possible, has links to what the book is about. For instance, if you were writing a book about social media, then Mark Zuckerberg would be a great contributor.
You can also ask the author of the foreword to talk about the author of the book (you) if relevant.
Subject: – The foreword can describe the importance of the subject of the book, how the subject has changed over the years – and even go to talk about how important the subject is.
Special Notes: – The Foreword contributor should be clearly stated, usually under the title of Foreword. If people need to know who the Foreword contributor is, then you can always include a small bio at the back of the book. (See layout guide)
Not all books include a preface, as you can combine the information the preface covers into the Introduction. However, some authors like to separate it. This is written by the author of the book, and appears before the Introduction. The preface usually deals with the background to the book. The reason for it being written. It can also include what it doesn’t include as well!
Subject: – The Preface deals with the background, or history of the subject, the reason the author was compelled to write it and also can include acknowledgements – although this can be a separate page at the back of the book, if the author wishes. (see layout guide) So if we take our book about social media, the Preface can include a bit about the history of social media, how the author feels about social media (and so has written the book) and what the book doesn’t cover – (how to set up different social media accounts for example).
The introduction then talks about the contents of the book. How the book will help the reader on their understanding of the subject, and why it’s important to understand the points brought up in the book.
Subject: – A brief description of what’s in the book and how relevant that is to the reader, it can also include ‘how to use the book’ (as in, read from cover to cover, or dip in and out) and mention any specific tasks or exercises that the book may cover. Special Notes: – Some authors find writing the introduction after they have written the book to be much easier. Also, don’t let the introduction be too long. I’ve seen books with 20+ pages, and it’s off putting – especially when it’s a subject I’m keen to learn – in my opinion, the introduction should be between 4 and 8 pages.
When gathering all of your writing – ready for typesetting – here is the order of layout. (I have done a simple layout guide, based on contents normally found in business books which are used for lead generation – I have not included pages found in text books or reference books.)
Title page – this is just a repeat of what the book is called, including authors name.
Title verso page – this is on the reverse of the title page, and has the ISBN number, the copyright info and statement of where the book was printed. If you’re unsure of what the title verso page should contain, click here for a template.
Dedication – this can be a statement of who the book is dedicated too. It can be a specific person or people, or even the readers. A line of thanks can be included, but it’s not where you acknowledge all of the people who have helped with the book, that is
Testimonials – most authors of business books that are to be used for lead generation like to include a testimonials page which includes comments about the book, and about working with the author (or their business). It’s a good opportunity to share with potential customers (your readers) how the book has helped others, or what it’s like to work with you. Include names of the contributors, a photo if you can, and their website. 4 pages is plenty – 6 maximum.
Contents – the contents of your book should be enticing. Make sure your headings are clear and not too ambiguous. (See top tip at the bottom of the post). Also, your contents shouldn’t include all of your headings – just the top 2 or 3. If you’re unsure of how to use headings, or headings set up, click here for an explanation and tutorial on how to set up your heading styles and hierarchy. Anything BEFORE the contents is not listed in the contents.
Foreword – As explained above – no more than 2 to 3 pages. The author of the foreword should be included.
Preface – As explained above.
Introduction – As explained above.
Body of the book – Chapter 1 to 8 (or however many chapters) This can be broken up into parts as well, if the subject matter is particularly complicated. You don’t need to have chapters names as such – for instance if your book is called “The top 24 secrets to getting good traffic using social media” the chapters can be set out as ‘Secret #1’ (instead of chapter 1) and so forth.
Conclusion – this should be a synopsis of the book – with the core take away lesson. Perhaps outline 1 or 2 key points, and repeat the importance of action – if needed – or what the reader now needs to do.
What now – or What next – this is a great opportunity to get the reader to do something. Is it to call you for more information? Visit your website? Hopefully you’ve included some strong call to actions within your body of the book, but if you haven’t then this is the place to state what the reader needs to do next. Make it clear, simple and explain the benefits of why.
About the Author – this is where you can tell the reader why you are an authority of the subject you’ve just written about. How long you’ve been in the business, and what you like to do in your spare time. It’s usually written in the third person and don’t be shy about saying how passionate you feel about your subject, or why you are good at what you do. You can also include a bit about the Foreword contributor as well, if you feel that would benefit the reader.
Acknowledgements – this is where you can thank all of the people who have helped with the book – editor, partner, researchers, colleagues, book designers, publishers etc.
References – if you have used any other authors work in your book, then you need to reference it here. The name of the book (or piece of writing) and their full name is sufficient. You can add the ISBN number of the book if you so wish, but you should include the date of publication.
Further Reading – This is a great place to list any other books or pieces of writing/research. You can list the books, or websites.
TOP TIP: – Your contents page can be a really valuable marketing tool – and you can use it in your promotion of your book. An effective way of getting more sales, is to use a taster PDF – this includes the title page, the title verso page, testimonials, list of contents, Intro and chapter 1. You then add a separate page of where to buy the full book at the end. If your contents are created in the way I suggest – then your reader will be really encouraged to buy the full book. Keep this in mind when creating your headings – and don’t be tempted to be too ambiguous. Your contents should be a enticing and tasty synopsis of what your book contains.