Authors often ask me how to get that magic piece of writing at the beginning of the book. You know the one, where Mother Teresa tells the world what a fabulous person you are, and how the world will be a better place with your book in it. This little piece of heaven is called the foreword for a book.
Unfortunately, Mother Teresa passed away before your book was completed, so you’ll have to find someone else to write it. The more relatable and better known the foreword author is, the more comfortable your reader is going to be with your book. The foreword is an important part of the introductory material in your book, as it sets the expectation of what is to come and why this particular book is valuable.
Can’t I Write My Own Foreword?
In a word, no. If you write it yourself it’s called an introduction or a preface. These do get mixed up a bit. The foreword is written by someone else introducing your concept and supporting the importance of your material. It’s a third party endorsement of your book. But that doesn’t mean you can get your mother to write it. Mother Teresa, yes, your own mother, no.
Who Should I Ask to Write My Book's Foreword?
Readers will often scan the foreword to see who has written it. Unless the reader is also in your field of expertise, they will be looking at the person’s title, rather than their name. So it works best if the person writing the foreword is a big name or a leader in the field you are writing on.
Think about who might fit this role in your book. It could be a mentor you have learned from, or a leader in your field. In some circumstances it could even be someone who has already benefited from your teachings and can clearly communicate that for your readers.
Remember, a foreword is not essential, so if you don’t have anyone suitable, don’t lose sleep over it. Move on to one of the gazillion other tasks involved in writing and publishing a book.
How Do I Ask Someone to Write My Book's Foreword?
The thought of asking someone to tell the world how fabulous you are is a daunting prospect. It goes against the humility we are raised to respect. Like most uncomfortable tasks, it can be made a little smoother with some forward (see what I did there?) planning.
When you approach the person you want to write your foreword, let them know:
- Why you chose them to write a foreword. What of their work has made an impact for you? What about them inspires you? Flattery will get you everywhere.
- Why you feel they are the right person for your book. What is it about their work that connects them specifically to your book?
- That you appreciate they are busy. Reassure them that the foreword could be as short as 500 words.
- That, if they wish, you could get a verbal foreword. Offer a 15-minute call to ask them some questions, interview style. Then you could draft up their words into a foreword, and ask them to just tweak and sign off. This is actually quite effective. It’s a lot easier for them to edit your interpretation of what they said, than it is for them to sit in front of a blank screen thinking of what to write. Particularly if they are a famous person with a lot of requests for support coming in.
- If they are really stuck for time, you could offer to draft something up and have them tweak it. This is a very good exercise in considering how others regard you. If you were Professor X, what would you say about you, emerging author in your field?
They wrote you a fabulous foreword and you love it. Show your gratitude, and build on that rapport with any combination of the following:
- Thank them in a personal note, card, or a bunch of flowers if it feels appropriate
- Link to their business page in one of your social media promotions on the book. This is an effective book marketing tool and a way of sharing the love
- Invite them to your launch party—show them off and thank them for their support
- Send them a signed and personalized copy once you have your beauty in your hands