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How to Write a Foreword

What's a foreword?
What’s a foreword?

I’m sometimes asked how to write a foreword: What goes into a foreword?

I’m a big believer in not being overly formulaic, so the following are guidelines for how to write a foreword. Feel free to be creative.

If you are writing a foreword for a self-help book or how-to book... Click To Tweet
  1. Share how you met the person or how you know them. This “social proof” establishes the connection between you and the author and helps establish the author’s credibility. Share what struck you about the person, and any particular skills, knowledge and wisdom they demonstrated over time. If you can open your foreword with a story, that’s particularly compelling.
  2. Give a sense of the scope of the problem this book helps to solve. You may use statistics and research to back this up or personal experience and anecdotes.
  3. Share some specific credentials of the author: that she teaches at Harvard, that he is one of the world’s most foremost researchers on deep sea creatures or that she is the first person to develop recovery groups for people addicted to scrapbooking—a pioneer in the field.
  4. Share how the author has helped others: the people in her scrapbooking recovery groups have gone on to develop healthier habits like stamp collecting or even married non-scrapbookers. Or share how you have referred scrapbooking addicts to this expert and have been amazed at the results and how these former addicts have gone on to lead normal lives, painting a picture of normal, of course.
  5. Give examples of what readers might find in this book and how it can transform their lives: the state of the art scrapbooking recovery model; tips for forming new, less-destructive hobbies.

Additional Tips to Write a Foreword

Looking for a few ways to have more impact with your foreword?

*  Start the foreword with a “hook” that draws readers in. As mentioned, a brief story can provide a compelling hook. Other hooks can include counterintuitive information or something that piques the reader’s curiosity.

*  Establish your own credibility around this particular subject, including any leadership roles you have played. If you’re a celebrity and your connection is your own experience or that of a loved one (i.e. you overcame your scrapbooking addiction, or your sister lost her home because of her scrapbooking addiction), share that (as long as you have your sister’s permission). Do this in a way that highlights the contents of this particular book and how it can help readers.

*  A conversational tone can help draw readers in.

*  Likewise, personal details, such as applying an aspect of the book to your own life, make a foreword compelling.

Please share your questions or comments below!

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Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Anjorin Favour says

    I was unable to write my foreword. i was so happy when I later saw how it was prepared. Thanks am so glad that I made it. God bless, favour, increase and back you up in Jesus name(Amen).

    • Lisa Tener says

      Hi Danny. Perhaps you can just put his title/position underneath his name in the foreword. Is it too late to do that?

  2. Shan Bruce says

    Ha! Love the example of the scrapbooking addict. I cross stitch, so I get that could be a real thing. The information was very helpful, as I am in the process of writing a book and completing a foreword for another book. Do you ever review or edit forewords for writers? Also, is there a wrong way to complete a foreword?

    • Lisa Tener says

      Hi Shan, Either I or my colleague can edit a foreword. It would be good to know what the author is looking for in the foreword you are writing.

    • Lisa Tener says

      You’re welcome, Monique. Are you writing a foreword for someone else’s book or looking for someone to write one for yours?

  3. Chris Maliang says

    Your tips on writing a forward was quite helpful. It took away the scare from me. A friend had ask I do a forward for his book. I am glad I read your guide. Hope to remind connected God bless.

  4. Amma Korantema Ansah says

    Thank you. I had no clue how to start with a forward for a book. The insights you have shared are very useful. Thank you God bless you.

  5. Guy Quinn says

    Hi, Lisa. I have been and am nearly complete with putting the Bible in a chronological format with commentary and side notes between verses and chapters, all 66 books. A friend brought to my attention do I have someone to do the forword picked out? This is something I never thought of. Is it necessary/required? I noticed other Bibles I have don’t have one, but they’re put in place by well-known names unlike me. Your thoughts please when you can and thank you. Guy

    • Lisa Tener says

      A foreword by a well known person could lend credibility to the project/book. In addition, it can help get your book found on Amazon when people search for that author/expert. One thing you may need to ask an attorney is whether you can use someone else’s translation of the bible. I am guessing you may need permission and may need to pay to use a particular translation. Although if you use something old like King James, you may more likely be safe (but ask an intellectual property attorney as I am just making an educated guess and that’s not good enough when it comes to the law!

  6. Imelda Kemeza says

    Your sharing on guidelines on writing a forward has waved off a scare in me.
    I can now comfortably pen down a forward.

    • Lisa Tener says

      Glad it was helpful! Feel free to ask questions here. And be sure to spell it “foreword” — like the word that comes before.

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