How to write a foreword

November 12, 2012 at 8:05 am | Posted in copywriting | 2 Comments
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My dad didn’t need a foreword for his book. Because he always has the LAST word!

A client recently sent me this request:

‘A friend has asked me to write the foreword of her book. Can you give me any wise words of advice as to how I should approach this?’

Having never written a foreword, I had to think about this.

As I thought, I jotted down what I considered a logical sequence of points:

  1. Read book.
  2. If it’s crap, decline. (You mustn’t damage your brand by endorsing poor work.)
  3. If it’s good, accept.
  4. Ask friend how many words she needs from you.
  5. Ask if there are any points she’d like you to touch on.
  6. (Re?)read the forewords of your 5 favourite books of all time to see how they’re done.
  7. Write first draft.
  8. Seek friend’s feedback.
  9. Edit if necessary.
  10. Ensure friend is 100% happy.
  11. Ensure you see final version before it goes live.
  12. Ensure you have a link to your site for instant karma.

My client said she found this very helpful.

This exercise illustrates two important points:

  1. You don’t always need to hire an expert. Critical thinking, common sense and a bit of research can get you quite far these days.
  2. That said, the fact I could pull this list together in under five minutes shows how experience gained in other areas of writing can serve a professional copywriter well.

Have you ever written, been asked to write or commissioned a foreword?

If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

If not, I’d also love to hear your thoughts – especially as to whether you feel my methodology is legit.


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