When I mentor authors through the process of writing their books, there’s one thing I’m very adamant about:
Don’t write the introduction first.
In fact, I tell them don’t even THINK about it.
While most books do need an introduction, starting at that point is a recipe to get stuck. It’s pure logic: How can you introduce your whole book when you haven’t written ANY of it yet?
Introductions that are written first end up being rambling, stuffy affairs that end up giving the author a false sense of closure:
If you’re told the reader the premise of the book and tried to give it meaning in their life from Page 1, then why do the need to read it? Which turns into, Why do I need to write it?
And it’s a one-way ticket to Fizzle Out Town.
My authors don’t even start thinking about the introduction (or conclusion, but that’s a different article) until they’re at least 80% of the way through writing the book. At that point, the introduction does become relevant.
How do you write an introduction to your book?
What Not To Do:
Don’t tell the reader how you’ve slaved over the book. How many hours, sleepless nights, or rounds of editing. They. Don’t. Care.
Don’t be stuffy, boring, or pretentious! The introduction isn’t to wow the reader with your use of $5 words. If you’re being somebody you’re not (pretentious and filled with fancy-talk) the reader won’t make it past the introduction, won’t read the book, and won’t hear your message.
Don’t try to give away the end. You will hint at the transformation the reader will get (tools to discover and implement a more positive mindset) but that doesn’t mean you’re jumping to the end and telling them what/how they’re getting there!
Don’t assume you NEED an introduction! Yes, while most non-fiction books do have an introduction, don’t assume you have to have one. Ask yourself what would happen if the book started with Chapter 1? (This is especially true in memoire. Just START already!)
What To Do:
Position the reader: Why are they here? Who are they? Who is the book for?
Position the transformation your book will bring: What, in general terms, will they get from reading it? This can be a few sentences! You’re not trying to bring them the whole picture in the introduction.
Define any important concepts that they’ll need to understand BEFORE Chapter 1. If you’re book is going to be developing these concepts throughout the book, you don’t need to do this. But if there’s a way you’re using a term that is turning it into “inside language”, then define this. This is done well in the book “Pivot” by Adam Markel.
Position yourself as the author/expert: this isn’t a biography of your training and achievements! You want to set up why you’re passionate about the topic, why you’re an expert, and briefly about why these two things matter to the reader.
If needed, a briefing on how to USE the book. This is important if the book has worksheets (either included or for download), other resources they’ll need, or if there’s a reason that they MUST read it start to finish (or a reason why they can/should skip around.)
Writing the introduction for your book isn’t the easiest task; if the introduction doesn’t hook the reader, they’ll put the book down and you’ll have lost your chance to have your message change their life. With any piece of your book, ask yourself the question: What does the READER need from this chapter/introduction/idea/story?
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