How to write a preface for a book

By Strategically AI. Reviewed by Rebecca Hey.
Updated October 7, 2023
2 minute read
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Introduction: The importance of a preface

Ever picked up a book and immediately flipped to the beginning, only to find a personal note from the author? That's a preface.

What is a preface?

A preface is a brief introductory passage written by the author that often states the book's purpose, its origins, and any background that led to its creation. It's like a behind-the-scenes peek into the author's mind, giving readers a personal connection before diving into the main content.

Why is a preface crucial?

Imagine starting a journey without a map. A preface provides that map, guiding readers on what to expect. It sets the tone, offers context, and sometimes even shares personal anecdotes that make the reading experience richer.

Key elements of a preface

Setting the stage

A preface should provide a backdrop. Why was the book written? What circumstances or inspirations led to its creation? It's like setting up the stage before the main act begins.

Sharing personal experiences

Ever heard the saying, "People connect with stories, not facts"? Sharing personal experiences can make your preface relatable. It's like inviting readers into your living room for a chat.

Acknowledging influences

Whether it's a mentor, an event, or a piece of literature, acknowledging what influenced you can add depth to your preface. It's like giving a nod to those who lit your path.

Steps to write an engaging preface

Understand your audience

Who are you writing for? Understanding your audience ensures your preface resonates with them. It's like tailoring a suit – it just fits better.

Be genuine and authentic

Readers can spot pretence a mile away. Be yourself. It's like wearing your favorite pair of jeans – comfortable and real.

Keep it brief but impactful

A preface isn't a novel. It's a handshake, an introduction. Make it memorable but concise.

Common mistakes to avoid

Being overly long

Remember, it's an appetizer, not the main course. Don't make readers full before they start the actual book.

Missing the Purpose

A preface without a clear purpose is like a ship without a compass. Ensure you convey why the book exists and why it matters.


Writing a preface is an art. It's the bridge between the author and the reader, setting the stage for the journey ahead. Craft it with care, authenticity, and a touch of personal flair, and you'll have readers hooked from page one.

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Rebecca Hey
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