How to write Preface of a Book

The book’s first few pages might get little attention from readers. Flipping through them lets us instantly decide whether to read any sections or ignore the book completely. However, authors must be familiar with every book component, including the ones at the front.

The prologue of a book is one of those components. And you will only know if you need a prelude if you understand what one is. So continue reading to learn more about prefaces. Do you need a preface, forward or prologue and how to write one. 

What is a preface?

A book’s prologue is the opening portion that appears before the body of material. A preface, which is written by the author, serves to intrigue readers by describing the author’s experience in producing the book, the inspiration for the subject matter, the writing process, the goal of the narrative, and the historical background of the material.

What distinguishes a Preface from a Prologue and a Foreword?

Prefaces, prologues, and forewords are all part of a book’s front matter, including the title page, table of contents, and introduction. This area of a book is frequently numbered with Roman numerals. (Any post-book elements like an epilogue or afterword are found in the back matter.) Prefaces, prologues, and forewords have diverse functions despite being so close together.

Preface

Prefaces are written from the author’s perspective and are most frequently encountered in non-fiction publications or academic literature. This brief introduction provides details on the motivation behind the book’s author. Another option for writers is to introduce themselves and explain why they are qualified to write on this subject.

Prologue

Usually featured in literary works of fiction, a prologue is generally written from the perspective of a character, either the protagonist or a character who offers a distinct viewpoint to the narrative. This literary device in the introduction provides the reader with further details that will aid in their understanding of the story. This can include details about the characters’ pasts, events before the story begins, or details that define the locale.

Foreword

A foreword is the first portion of a book written by someone other than the author. This person is typically a well-known individual who is an authority on the subject, another author, or a critic. By complementing the book, the author, or both, a preface provides credibility to both the work and the author. Publishers may use a preface as a literary marketing tactic to raise the profile of a book and draw readers.

What is the purpose of a preface in a book

Prefacing your narrative allows you to speak to readers directly and provide them with information that isn’t included in the story. The purpose of an author’s preface is to:

1. Describe the author’s motivation for writing on a particular topic.

2. Describe the inspiration and drive behind authoring the book.

3. Describe the procedure used to research the book’s subject.

4. Describe the book’s writing process, including any difficulties and how long it took.

5. Describe the changes to the book’s new edition and its introduction.

6. Include details about pertinent occasions that occurred following the publication of an earlier edition of the book.

How to write preface

When writing your book, you should provide the reader with some background information or add details to help them comprehend the story’s significance. If your book requires an expository part, you need a preface to back up your narrative and explain why you wrote it. Here are a few pointers that will help you write a strong preface – 

1. Share the background of your book

For creating a strong preface you can give a brief about –

  • Who or what gave you the idea to write it?
  • What research techniques, historical context, and unique personal experiences did you use to put the story together?
  • What difficulties did you have when writing it?
  • What is the book’s primary goal?
  • And if any updates to the book have been made, what have they changed?

You might also want to thank anyone who assisted you in writing your book.

2. Keep it brief

Readers often want to jump immediately into the book’s main body. Your preface should be brief. The best length to make your points is one to two pages. Editing out extraneous ideas and information is aided by proofreading.

3. Be intriguing

The readability of a preface is crucial. Making it engaging is imperative else your audience will quickly move on. Mark Twain explained his attempt to give each character their unique dialect based on their origin in the preface to ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’. When creating a non-fiction book, include intriguing anecdotes that stimulate the reader’s interest.

4. Prefaces are like “Making of” sections

Do you watch the “behind the scenes” or “making of” segments frequently accompanying a movie? An intro and a story are related similarly. It provides exciting details on how you have put the book together, which is particularly helpful when writing non-fiction. You may describe to your audience how your investigation led you to discover novel information. You could talk about any obstacles you overcame to write. Or explain to them how you became interested in the book’s subject.

5. Share Your Passion with the Readers to Inspire

It takes a lot of work to write your book. Tell the reader what piqued your interest in the book’s subject as the author and why you felt compelled to write about it. That zeal can spread. Your writing’s inspiration can pique readers’ interest, making them eager to read what you learned.

6. Edit and proofread the preface

As it is typically simpler to summarise the writing process, etc., once you have a strong draught of the rest of your work, the prologue may be the last section of the book you write. However, this makes it more critical.

Once you have the first draft of your thesis, give it some time to sit before returning to it with a new perspective. Then, you can adjust or improve it as necessary. At this time, it’s always a good idea to request comments on your preface. Finally, remember to proofread your introduction.

Examples of a good preface

1. Barack Obama: A Promised Land

Barack Obama asks the reader to join him after his presidential campaign in the foreword to his most recent memoir, A Promised Land. He says that motivated by a desire to document his time in office; he began writing the book on his final voyage on Air Force One. A Promised Land, however, is more than just a biography; according to Obama, the book’s goal was to inspire readers by sharing his experience of finding meaning in public service and illustrating what it’s like to be president.


His preface was such a compelling introduction to the book that it was both a single essay and a powerful tool for drawing readers in. A Promised Land’s preface was widely reprinted and repeated during the publicity campaign, teaching us that a strong preface can be a very effective tool for marketing your book.

2. Jio Tolentino: Trick Mirror

Jia Tolentino’s preface to her 2020 collection of essays, Trick Mirror, even if she calls it an introduction, fits the definition of a preface and is an excellent example of how an author may make use of the chance to contextualise their work and go into detail about how and why they wrote it.


Tolentino describes how she composed these essays in the wake of the 2016 US election to bring her disjointed understanding of reality and herself to terms with such a seismic political shift in the preface. She summarises each of the nine pieces concisely and details the specific background for each. Tolentino’s introduction outlines the emotional circumstances and historical backdrop that originated the work. However, the work can still be enjoyed without it (more on historical context in prefaces later!) in a way that offers the reader a fresh viewpoint on the collection’s core material.

Conclusion

You can safely omit the preface if you’re writing a novel. After the book becomes a global bestseller, you may always write one for a subsequent edition! You should think about drafting a preface if you’re writing a nonfiction book. Do you notice anything unique about the process of how to write a preface? If so, put those fascinating information in a preface you write. Share your enthusiasm with the readers and keep it crisp and captivating!

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