A foreword is a section at the beginning of a book, usually written by a person who is well-known by the readers in that niche. Having a foreword is not required, but it can be a powerful way to reach readers who don’t know you yet and guide them to your message. If your goal is to make a difference, a foreword by a leader in your field can help you make a greater impact.
For example, I picked up a book called The Power of Kindness largely because it had a foreword written by the Dalai Lama. An endorsement by him was enough for me to lift it off the bookstore shelf and buy it immediately. The author had a long-time relationship with the Dalai Lama, so was able to make the request.
That said, you do not need to ask the Dalai Lama to write a foreword for you book, but I’ll bet you know (or you know someone who knows) someone who is famous in your field who would be willing to review your book and write one for you.
The foreword gives you credibility
The trick as a first-time (or not-so-famous-yet) author is to capture the attention of your ideal readers and let them know that your book is worth a look. So the celebrity or authority you ask should be someone your readers recognize, like and respect.
For example, David Marquet, the author of the excellent leadership book Turn the Ship Around was not a well-known name outside of the military. But his foreword is by Stephen Covey - there is hardly a more recognizable or credible name in the industry. It lent Marquet's book the star power that it needed to become one of the most popular books around.
What does a book foreword include?
There are no rules about how to write a foreword, but the idea is that the foreword writer should explain how:
- The book’s author is a rock star
- The author and/or the book has affected the writer
- Why readers should buy it immediately (and copies for everyone they know) and how it may positively transform their lives (or work, etc.)
Send your book or part of it with the list above (in your own words, of course) to the person you want to write your foreword. Also provide a couple of forewords from other books in your field as examples to start from. You should emphasize why it would be an honor for you to have his or her foreword as a vital part of your book. Pointing out that he or she is a recognized expert or guru doesn’t hurt your chances either.
The best forewords are personal and heartfelt
If you want to provide your foreword writer more guidance, look through books in your genre on your shelf or on the Amazon “Look Inside” feature to see what kind of forewords you like. Some are long and some are short, but they should be sincere. The best forewords are written from the heart - readers know genuine recommendations when they see them.
Avoid the last-minute rush
People are busy. Make sure you make your request for a foreword at least a couple of months ahead of your publishing date. And follow up. Nicely.
The person you are asking will likely be flattered to be asked, as a foreword in your book establishes their expertise. But it’s not something they do every day, so be patient - and persistent.
Send a handwritten note along with (at least) a copy of your signed book to thank your foreword writer when it’s all said and done. Your gratitude will be remembered and appreciated.
Spelling of foreword
One last note: Foreword means “word at the beginning”, not forward, which means “moving ahead.” The spelling difference is IMPORTANT - make sure you spell it correctly!