Quick Links: Preface your book!

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Not sure what the difference is between a preface, foreword, introduction, or prologue? Over at the BookBaby blog, David Leonhardt explains the differences and why having one is key to setting the mood for your reader.

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Preface your book!

David Leonhardt

doodle_10036436-032114Whether it’s a preface, an introduction, a foreword, or a prologue, the text that comes before your first chapter is important for setting the stage for your readers.
Not every book has a preface. That’s OK, because some have an introduction. Or a foreword. Or a prologue. And some have several of these.

Whatever you call it (or them), the text that comes before your first chapter is important for setting the stage for your readers. So let’s take a couple minutes to cover the basics.

Your first question is probably this:

What is the difference between preface, foreword, introduction, and prologue?

That is exactly the question that was asked, and answered, on Quora. As you can tell, there is no hard and fast definition, although a foreword is typically written by someone other than the author, usually someone well-known and credible. This is a great way to help readers accept that a new writer has something worth reading.

An introduction is usually an explanation of what is in the book. This is ideal for non-fiction books, or for fiction books where the author wants to explain where he’s coming from. It can also let readers know how they will benefit from reading the book. The introduction is not part of the story.

A prologue is generally part of the story, but set apart. It sets the stage by bringing the reader into the story before it begins. Generally, a prologue is used for fiction.

So what is a preface? Well, now, that’s a good question. A preface could be an introduction. Or it could be a prologue. It is whatever you need to set the stage so that the reader can hit the ground running from Chapter 1.

Setting the stage is key

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