What makes a good foreword?

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post about what makes a good foreword…

Barbara Oakley — professor of engineering at Oakland University and teacher of the incredibly popular Coursera course “Learning How to Learn” — kindly wrote the foreword to my book Your Happy First Draft.

Why did I ask her? Well, she had interviewed me for her course and we’d become fast email-friends. I thought she’d be a good person to write the foreword because she had a sterling reputation as an innovative teacher and because we shared so many of the same principles with respect to productivity and creativity. (If you want to read her foreword, you can see it here.)

I was thinking of Barbara recently, when I encountered an excellent post on the Authority Pub website. Running under the headline, “Need A Foreword For Your Book? Here Are The Steps To Make It Happen,” the post offered some terrific advice.

As writer Barrie Davenport explains: “The whole point of a foreword is to discuss your connection with the author and to their book. This is where you’ll tell the reader why the book is important to you and why you’re proud to have this opportunity to recommend it to them.”

According to Davenport, a good foreword should answer a combination of the following questions:

  • What connection do you have with the book?
  • What makes you a good choice to write the book’s foreword?
  • What relationship do you have with the book’s author?
  • How has the author helped you or others, and how does that relate to the book?
  • What circumstances or needs drove the author to write the book?
  • How is the author uniquely qualified to write this book?
  • How have you collaborated in the book’s creation?

While not all books require a foreword, many will benefit from one. Particularly if the author of that foreword is someone who can boost your credibility as an author. Read this post if you need to learn more.

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