We’ve curated our best editorial secrets and industry insights into a series of articles. They range from getting started through staying on track and grasping the publishing business. Put those fuzzy slippers on your feet, pull up a cushy armchair, and enjoy.

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How to Write an Introduction that People Don’t Skip

Introductions drag; they are dry; they are officious and insincere. But it doesn’t have to be this way if you consider these five strategies:



1. Talk to us in the voice of the book. Don’t adopt a more serious or distant tone that isn’t engaging or faithful to what readers will hear when they progress to chapter 1.

2. Tell us something new. The academic-style synopsis that reels off what each chapter in the upcoming book will contain smells like school. Plus, it won’t have the life of the chapters to come: the thought-provoking idea, the sensual details. So it’s truly worse than nothing.

3. Give us connections that we might not get elsewhere. An introduction is by definition not any particular chapter. Rather than just treading water until we get to the good stuff, afford us a perspective we can embrace only by surveying the entire landscape at once.

4. Keep it brief. An introduction between two people at a party gets at the heart of what might be interesting to each person present— it isn’t a ten-minute soliloquy that is all about the speaker. Introduce your reader to your book and then excuse yourself to let the two of them get acquainted.

5. Be direct. Addressing the reader intimately might not be your style, but you’re basically asking them to read your book. Even if you want to convince them based solely on the story’s own merits, you still have to connect with the reader personally on the level of motivation or emotion.