123. When and How to Get a Foreword for Your Book

Do you really need a foreword for your book?

Need is a strong word, and definitely not one that applies here.

But for the right kinds of books, a strong foreword can make all the difference in your book sales—even if your readers flip right past it.

In this episode find out why you might (or might not) want to get one, who to ask, and how to go about it.

For more writing tips and inspiration, follow me on Instagram @candiceldavis.

Mentioned in This Episode

Authors Ignited: Group Coaching Program for Nonfiction Authors

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Complete Author Coaching (1:1 Coaching)

Episode Transcript

Hey there, and welcome to Nothing but the Words. I’m Your Book Coach, Candice L Davis.

I hope your week and your writing are both going well.

Recently, one of my coaching clients finally got the foreword for his book.

He’d asked for it from one of his mentors weeks ago, but like most successful people, his mentor was busy, and it took him a while to send it in.

But it was worth the wait, and by the end of this episode, you should understand why this foreword will be valuable for him and why you might want a foreword for your book.

First of all, let’s clarify. Most books of fiction, novels and short story collections, won’t have a foreword.

There are exceptions to everything, of course. When you pick up a classic, like Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye,” you might see a foreword that addresses the book’s place in history.

But for the most part, fiction and forewords don’t go together.

Forewords more often come into play with nonfiction. And you’re more likely to find them in personal development books, professional development books, narrative nonfiction, and subject-matter exploration books than you are in memoirs.

Most books won’t have a foreword, and you can sell your book just fine without one.

However, the right foreword can help you sell more books even if your readers skip right over it.

Why? Because you can stamp the front of your book with “Foreword by [INSERT name of foreword writer].”

And that one line of text can convey a higher level of credibility for your book.

Imagine you wrote a book on investing and Warren Buffet wrote the foreword.

Imagine a foreword by Brené Brown for a book on shame or a foreword by TD Jakes for your faith-based book.

The right endorsement can supercharge your sales.

So how do you go about getting a foreword?

One caveat before we dive into these steps.

If you’re trying to get a book deal, it can be really helpful to get a commitment for your foreword as a part of your proposal.

The right name can lend some weight to your pitch. It won’t get you the sale on its own, but it can help.

Let’s dive in.

#1. Don’t wait until you’re a week out from publication to request a foreword.

You can make your request for a foreword even before you finish writing the manuscript.

If that’s the case, just let them know when you expect to be finished and will need the foreword from them.

#2. Start with your network.

You’re more likely to have success with people you know or who a mutual friend or colleague can connect you with.

But don’t let that stop you from asking for a foreword from someone in your industry with whom you don’t have a personal connection.

If you can contact a person, you can ask them for a foreword.

Just keep in mind that the bigger the name the more demands that person likely has on their time and the more likely they are to ignore your request.

Also note that some celebrities and other big wigs actually charge to write a foreword.

#3. Choose someone whose name, position, or credibility will help your book stand out.

If you’re writing a book on how to underground homeschool kids, a foreword from the author of a book on women’s health probably won’t do you much good.

Pick someone relevant and accomplished.

A foreword from your best friend who also happens to also be an author isn’t what you’re looking for.

#4. Make it easy for them to say yes.

Even if you know them, send them a brief summary of your book and your relevant bio and accomplishments.

Offer to send them your full manuscript if they want to read it first. Some people might, but others just won’t have time, so don’t take it personally if they opt out of reading the whole thing.

If you know this person is particularly busy, you can even offer to have them record the foreword rather than write it.

Just know that a recording can be a beast to work into something readable, and if you take that road, you should make sure they have the opportunity to read the final copy before you publish it.

#5. Tell them exactly what the foreword should include—unless you know they’ve done this for other authors and have it down.

You might want them to include how they know you, how they’ve seen you grow, why you’re the right person to write this book, relevant experience they’ve had with you, and/or a call to action for people to jump into the book.

Those are the 5 simple steps you can take to get a foreword for your book should you decide you want one.

It was worth it for the client I mentioned at the top of this episode to wait for the foreword because his client is so well known among the author’s target audience that the foreword will undoubtedly help him sell more books.

Getting the right foreword can be worth the effort for you too.

But remember that no one is obligated to write a foreword for you.

Some people will decline, and that’s their right. Rejection happens all along the way when you write a book. Accept it and move on.

Foreword or no foreword, if you write a great book, you can still be an incredibly successful author.

That’s all for this week’s episode, my friends.

Thanks for listening to “Nothing but the Words.” I’m Your Book Coach, Candice L. Davis. And I’ll see you next time.

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