How to Write a Good Preface

Sunday, 6 September 2009

A good preface can be your best advertising campaign. Learn how to write a good preface and attract more readers.

A preface is a small introduction to a book, usually written by the author. It shouldn’t be mistaken for the foreword, which is an introductory note written by a person other than the author. The foreword usually precedes the preface. 

The preface is one of the first things people tend to look at when they want to buy a book. What you say in the preface can make your potential readers decide whether they want to buy your book or not. That’s why it is important that you put yourself in the readers’ shoes and ask yourself: “If I were a reader, what would I be looking for? What would make me think this book is worth reading? What would my expectations be? What would I like to find in it? What would impress me and intrigue me?”

The preface can include all or any of the following: 

1. A little description of the book in general lines, without unveiling the plot, the characters (if it’s a fiction work), or the conclusions. Rather than revealing too much, always leave room for a little bit of mystery. Make your readers curious enough to want to read the book. Intrigue them. Talk about the questions you ask in the book but let them find the answers themselves by reading it. 

2. The reason why you wrote the book - in this part you can explain how you got the idea of writing the book and which were the decisive factors that made you commit yourself to such a complex task. You can also refer to the origin or genesis of your work. 

3. The purpose of your book - Point out what your potential readers would gain if they read your book and all the benefits they would get from it. Explain how it would help them, entertain them or enrich them (either materially or spiritually).

4. Refer to your target audience. Whom did you have in mind when you wrote your book? Why did you choose to write for that particular audience? These are a few questions you can answer in your preface. 

5. The reason why you chose to write about that particular subject (e.g. you are very familiar with it, you were interested in it, it is close to your heart, you are intrigued or fascinated by it, etc.)

6. Resources and sources of inspiration. Talk about what inspired you in writing the book, the resources you’ve used in your work (e.g. bibliography, websites, etc), and your experience and knowledge accumulated through journeys, study or research. 

7. How long it took you to write the book

8. How you feel about your work. Explain what makes you feel like that. Talk about what you’ve learned and about how writing this book has helped you as an author and as a human being. 

9. Advice on how to read the book. Explain how your book is structured. Include any special notes related to the structure or the content. 

10. Experiences you had or incidents that occurred during the writing period. 

11. Acknowledgements – express your gratitude by thanking the people who helped you and encouraged you in the process of writing your book. 

63 comments:

whiteshark0121 said...

Great article, I always keep myself looking for new tips and ways on how to improve my writing and one of my favorite mentor on learning how to write a book is Mark Victor Hansen, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

rakesh said...

good it was really a great help.thanxxxxxxxxxx.... a lot

Anonymous said...

Thank you Eliza, I've just used your excellent advice to write my preface. May your books make millions. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

xxx

Anonymous said...

Thanks Eliza, I am now confident that I can write an EXCELLLENT preface.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing..will certainly be guided by what you have shared....Cheers!

Samuel Means said...

The information you shared is invaluable for a current writing project. I am writing a short book and have several thoughts and stories that I now have a suitable place to share them with potential readers. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much , this is the first time that I know the fact that the preface should follow and include a special system and not just like that

Nanda Kishoore said...

I used this for writing a magazine preface..!Wud it help..?

Jenny said...

This was the best information I found about this subject. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I'm a high school student and this REALLY helped me!! Thank you so much! xo

Anonymous said...

Thanx very much. My lecturer wont resist asking who helped me. I'l mention u. Tnx a millie

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, this helped out tremendously with my English project!

Anonymous said...

Vinayak said...

Thanks so much, this helped to make my English project more creative

prajwalin das said...

Thanks this help me a lot for making my project more creative.

prajwalin das said...

Thanks this help me a lot for making my project more creative.

Dana Buchmiller said...

I loved this article. It was exactly what I needed to help me -I'm currently preparing a piece to submit to Amazon Singles. In fact, I love this article so much, I'm probably going to review it on my blog and have a link to this page.

I did have another question, though. Do you know how many words makes a good preface? I don't want it to be too long or too short.

Secret said...

Perfectly written...!!!

Anonymous said...

gr8......nw i can write a good preface.
thanks a lot!!!

Anonymous said...

wow you solved my problem . . .
Thanks a lot...

Dr. Mohinder K. Slariya said...

Very-very good one, it is capable, definitely, to show path to beginners and it can work as a Light House for them.....thanks Eliza ...for good one..

Dr. Mohinder Slariya
Post-doc fellow
faculty of Mathematics and Natural sciences
University of Turku
Finland

Jessica said...

Thanks so much for the tips! I've never written a preface before, despite having read so many of them, and this was a real help!

Av_Rulz69 said...

Very useful and to-the-point. You have an amazing web-site. Thank you for your valuable efforts.

Jennifer said...

Thanks Eliza, this is so helpful. I have to write a preface for a cookbook so I was getting stuck. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge for free, I'll send you a copy of the book when it's complete (it's an ebook).

Sivamjothi said...

It was useful for me... thanks a lot.

Pamela McCray said...

I found your piece very helpful and inspirational. Thank you so much for sharing.

Anonymous said...

superb idea i created a good report by it

Anonymous said...

it gave me gr8 help for my project.thanxxxxxxxxx a lotttttttttt

Anonymous said...

Hi ..
Thanks for the great tips for writing a preface. I m about to write a book on my life.. So I needed help for a preface... I'll contact you sometime for more info... Bye...

Anonymous said...

Good help, finalising my first book.

Ele, Jamaica

NGET SORPHEA said...

thanks for your sharing some advices all these advices are useful for me

Ferly Arvidia Anindita said...

Thank's A Lot ^_^

Anonymous said...

thanks a lot..its really help me out with my preface write up..

Anonymous said...

walter: very helpful; concise and comprehensive. Thanks.

obiageli Modebelu said...

thanks the write- up is so helpful.

Anonymous said...

this helped me alot... it was very detailed and step by step... thank u -D.L

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your help. It really helped me in making a preface especially on our project.

Kosh said...

it was very helpful. Thnx :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the tips. Much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

hi good work this advice is amazing

Anonymous said...

Thank you Eliza, you have just been of help to me. i pray that God will empower you beyond your expectation.

Anonymous said...

You must be a very kind and generous person to share your wisdom with so many of us visiting your "writing jug." Thank you, Eliza, and I wish you all the best, as your preface outline has been invaluable to me.

Prakhar Rai said...

good really helpful

Sahil Nilay said...

Really helpful, I understood the points and wrote accordingly and scored 47/ 50 thanks Eliza

Gail Cavanaugh said...

Thanks! I read several articles about this subject before I read yours and it helped me immensely.

Suvam said...

quite a nice work . it defines pointwise what apreface is

Anonymous said...

Very helpful content. Thanks a lot.

Suresh J

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for the valuable tips on right time.

Anonymous said...

sup

Akongoh Rudolf N. said...

This article has cleared the web from my eyes; I will be writing the preface to my first volume of poetry, SILHOUETTES OF DAWN, with more confidence.

Kateri Maloney said...

Eliza:
Thank you for the fantastic blog! I look forward to reading more of your site!
Kateri
http://katerimaloney.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Merci beaucoup!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yashraj Kakkad said...

Thank you for such an informative and useful article. It will really help many of us to enhance our projects, books and other written works. Also, some of your site content helps bloggers like me to improve our writing skills!

Great Job!

Regards,
Yashraj Kakkad
http://www.techprobex.com

Anonymous said...

Thnxxxxx.....!!!!! a lot Eliza your tips were really helpful 4 mkng my BS project.

Anonymous said...

Thank you . It really helped me a lot

Parigul Niazai said...

Thanks a lot for such an informative article. I was actually looking for this kind of guide lines for writing a preface.

Mukasa caleb said...

Very good explanations i liked everything God bless you.

Laura Brown said...

Great article. I am leading a camp of 13 first-time writers and this will be helpful as they put their books together.

Him Serey said...

Thanks author. I will use this valuable ideas to write preface of my books.

Malik Hasan said...

Nice write-up! Being able to write creatively is something not all of us are capable of. Count yourself blessed because you have a talent. Getting into the mood in writing does not have a set of rules to follow. ‘To each his own’ is what people say; however, a list of suggestions wouldn’t hurt.writing fiction

Malik Hasan said...

Nice write-up! Being able to write creatively is something not all of us are capable of. Count yourself blessed because you have a talent. Getting into the mood in writing does not have a set of rules to follow. ‘To each his own’ is what people say; however, a list of suggestions wouldn’t hurt.how to write a novel

IIFE NAGPUR said...

Thanks ! great & Helpful tips

Anonymous said...

Thanking you very much. I wanted to write my autobiography.......This is an important and valuable piece of information

Post a Comment