What is a Foreword, a Preface and an Introduction?

Many writers have heard of the terms Foreword, Preface and Introduction but some are unsure of the meaning of each and how they differ.

It’s important for you to know the differences, particularly if you self-publish.

Don’t worry, it’s not complex or difficult to understand and I’m going to keep it as simple as it needs to be.

Foreword  (Someone important endorses the book/author)
The foreword is an introduction to the book and/or author by someone other than the author themselves.

Usually the Foreword is written by someone well known and respected in the same field as the topic of the book.

The Foreword lends some credibility to the book and its author by association with the writer of the foreword.

Basically it’s a shout-out by someone potential readers of the book will know and hopefully respect.

Preface ( Why the book physically exists)
A Preface is usually written by the author of the book and explains the reason for the book’s existence on the shelf.

It explains the reasoning behind the writing of the book, the processes behind its conception and the rationale behind its creation. It can even provide acknowledgements and thanks to others who helped in the development of or inspiration for the work.

While thanks and acknowledgments might appear in the preface they can also appear in their own specific sections of the book.

Introduction ( What the reader can expect from the book)
The introduction is created to set the scene for what will unfold within the book.

It provides a chance to entice the reader and encourage them turn the page and read the book in its entirety. It is an entrée to whet the taste buds and fire the imagination so the reader can’t wait to get to the first chapter and discover what the author has in store for them.

The foreword, preface and introduction are three very different tools on the author’s arsenal and when used correctly can:

  • Greatly enhance a book or author’s credibility
  • Allow a book to reach more readers
  • Illustrate why the author is the right person to write the book
  • Make the author a real person in the eyes of the reader
  • Set a book apart from others
  • Enhance the reader’s understanding and enjoyment of the book

While your book may not require a foreword, preface or introduction it is important to know what each can do for a writer.


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