They say that getting started is the hardest part, something that also applies to writing a preface. However, the difficulty or insecurity of not knowing how to do it cannot serve as an excuse for the writer not to try.
Including a preface in a book is very beneficial for many reasons. Not only is it another exercise in creative writing, but it acts as an introduction for the reader. With these initial pages a person can get an idea of the work and also the author, connecting with both and deciding to start reading.
If you are looking for a guide to help you start writing the preface for your book, in this article we offer you different strategies and professional tips.
How to start writing an effective and memorable preface
How to start writing an effective and memorable preface
The blank page can be a big block in any writer’s life. However, discipline and creativity always end up joining hands and launch the process of literary creation.
When writing a preface, these two skills are also important, although it is equally important to know the definition of a preface and what its function is within the book.
The importance of the preface in literature
The preface acts as an introduction or, rather, a book cover letter. Although many people consider it a synonym for prologue, they are different concepts, since the prologue is usually an analysis, study or complimentary comment on the work. They often work closely with clients, gathering ideas and input, Hire Fiction Ghostwriters are maintaining open communication to ensure the client’s vision is accurately represented.
The preface can be written by the author himself or another person (a critic or editor, for example), but it is always to establish a first (and decisive) contact with the reader.
However, depending on the type of work and what you want to introduce, the preface can be of one type or another and fulfill a more specific function:
- Present the tone and/or theme of the work: very common in anthologies in which an editor explains why he has included some works or others and what theme he groups them together.
- Characterize the characters: playwrights use it to make recommendations to actors about the fictional characters to play, providing details that do not appear in the play itself.
- Connect emotionally with the reader: this function is especially useful in poetic works in which the author can make a first presentation of the inner world or the context in which he develops the poems.
- Provide a socio historical context: a historical book (whether fictional or not) is recommended to include a preface that frames the work within a time and space. Failure to do so could lead the reader to abandon the work because they do not understand it.
How to establish the purpose of the preface and the focus in the literary work?
Once the different purposes that a preface can have been clarified, it can be difficult to choose which one is the most appropriate for a specific book.
In addition to reading examples of successful prefaces for different literary works and using them as inspiration, it is essential to consider the following points before writing the preface and choosing your approach:
- Do you want it to be a presentation of the work or the author?
- What questions do you think the reader might have when deciding whether or not to read the book?
- Is there any element of the literary work that needs to be explained or contextualized before beginning reading?
- Is there anything you would like to highlight about the book or your experience writing it? What was the creative process like, how did the idea or interest in it arise, what challenges did writing entail…?
By answering these questions, a writer can precisely define the approach to writing the preface, as well as its content.
“Everyone knows how to write, but not everyone is a writer.”
How to connect with readers from the beginning
Writing a preface is reaching out to the reader and inviting them to continue reading. This initial connection is key and can make the difference, making the reader stay or put the book back on the shelf. The preface thus becomes a literary tool to awaken interest and establish a relationship with whoever reads it.
For this to be the case, it is important to let the reader see what awaits them inside and why they will find it interesting. Here are some tips to achieve this:
- Write the preface with a first-person narrator (either your voice or that of a character), as this is closer.
- If your book is based on a personal experience, talk about it in the preface so that the reader can connect with it and want to know more.
- Reveal to the reader what they can learn from reading the book or what it can give them.
- If you think that instead of the author, the reader will connect better with one of the characters, introduce that character and describe him or her, highlighting those most lovable qualities.
- Don’t tell too much or you’ll risk the reader getting bored and losing interest.
How to Write a Preface to Set the Author’s Tone and Voice?
In addition to the theme, writing the preface also serves to establish the tone and voice of the author and their work. This is of vital importance and interest for a new writer who has opted for self-publishing.
Thanks to the preface, the author can speak directly to the reader, even if he does so through a character. In this way, he presents his voice and shows what type of book can be expected: adventure, a psychological thriller, a science fiction one or a historical one.
Thus the reader also becomes familiar with the literary tone and enters the novel with more enthusiasm and fewer doubts.
How to use the preface to provide historical, cultural, or geographic context for the story?
Generally, historical novels or novels based (to a greater or lesser extent) on real events include a preface to contextualize the work. This helps the reader understand certain aspects that may not be developed in detail in the book but are important to understand and follow the argument.
It may also happen that the work is not historical but makes reference to other places or cultures. In this case, writing a preface is also advisable, since the reader may not know these references because they are distant.
In any of these situations, the importance of the preface lies not only in its content, but also in the tone with which it is written and, therefore, with which the work approaches the context. The reader is thus offered notions to understand from which perspective the plot is narrated (observant, critical or analytical, for example).
Practical tips for writing an effective preface that improves the reader’s experience
Throughout this article we have established why it is important to write a preface, highlighting that it is the reader’s first contact with the book. This means that the reader’s experience begins on those pages. How can we get it off to a good start?
- Go for simplicity and clarity: this does not mean that you use meaningless or excessively simple language. But you should try to ensure that what you write in the preface is not complex or confusing to the reader. It should be a direct text that awakens your interest and answers the question: should I continue reading this book?
- Leave the reader wanting more: even if your work is not a thriller, try to introduce some suspense in the preface. It is recommended that you tell something that is interesting but that, to know more, the reader must continue reading. You can also advance some learning that you will be able to learn if you continue reading.
- Don’t lose sight of the purpose of writing a preface: whatever specific function you want to give to the preface, remember its pragmatic use. It is about introducing the work, not about writing another chapter or making a summary.
“What would a writer be without that obstacle that forces him to subtle twists and turns to say what cannot be said? The literary technique wins.”
How to write the preface to present the plot and characters of the literary work?
A key aspect of improving the reader’s experience when writing a preface is to properly present the plot and characters of the literary work. Why is this important?
Because when we decide to read a book we also decide to accompany some characters (or an author). The connection that is generated between the reader and the plot is total (if not, think about the works that have marked you the most and how you felt connected to the characters). For this reason, a preface can be a tool to initiate that connection and convince the reader that it is with those characters and that plot that they want to stay with.
To properly introduce the plot and characters in the preface, remember:
- Highlight the most characteristic and attractive aspects of both the plot and the characters.
- Put yourself in your reader’s shoes, thinking about what they would like and what might interest them about the plot to present that in the preface.
- Do not tell too much or give too much information so that the reader can intuit the ending or the main message.
- Reread your book to be able to follow the previous advice perfectly.
After writing the preface to your book, print it
If you thought your book manuscript was complete without a preface, we hope this article has helped you realize that it is not.
Writing a preface will bring great advantages to your work, making it more attractive and even helping you increase the number of readers.
Once you have your work complete, it’s time to make decisions about its layout, binding, type of paper or cover format. At Collabra we have years of experience and a quality service that facilitates printing on demand for independent authors and small publishers.
Our book printing services are tailored to our clients and ensure an easy self-editing and self-publishing process. This is possible thanks to our platform, to which in a few minutes you can upload your book document and select how you want to print it.
In a few days you can have copies of your book at home and ready to attract readers through the preface.