How To Write a Book in 30 Days


12. Writing Your Introduction

Your introduction is where you, the author, set the stage for your reader. You’re ‘introducing’ the reader to your work, explaining the question or situation your book answers, why you think it’s a question or situation worth a book’s worth of answer, and telling her what to expect along the way.

“Tell the audience what you’re going to say, say it; then tell them what you’ve said.”

Dale Carnegie

Self-Improvement Legend

You’re preparing the reader to enter the world that is your book. Remember, you know all about the subject of your book; you wrote it. But your reader doesn’t necessarily share your frame of reference. You’ve got to paint that picture and put your reader in that frame of reference – that’s what needs to be accomplished in the Introduction.

Module 12: Writing Your Introduction

by Steve Spillman | How to Write a Book in 30 Days

First, let’s clear the air of a little terminology.

As the reader opens your book’s front cover, she may need to flip through several pages of introductory ‘stuff’ before coming to chapter one, page one. All of this ‘stuff’ is called ‘front matter.’ Your Introduction is part of your book’s front matter. We’ll save the other parts of front matter, and back matter, for that matter, for our next lesson.

There are probably a few questions that come to mind right now:

  1. Why am I telling you to write your book’s Introduction after you’ve written its conclusion?
  2. What is your Introduction supposed to accomplish?

The answer to question 2 has a lot to do with the answer to question 1 so let’s start there.

What is your Introduction supposed to accomplish?

Before jumping right into page one, chapter one, readers may appreciate knowing what they’re getting into — a ‘lay of the land,’ if you will. It’s important to remember that your reader, most likely, isn’t coming into this with the same frame of reference you have. After all, you wrote the book. Your reader may need to be introduced to a lot of ideas you take for granted. It’s helpful to state the problem your book addresses or set the scene your story covers.

It may also be helpful to the reader to give them a bit of a roadmap in advance of chapter one.

If your book is broken up into three main sections tell your reader why you broke the book into three sections and what they should expect to get out of each section. For example, I’ve broken my book, How to Write a Book in 30 Days into three major sections: ‘Creating Your Content,’ ‘Organizing Your Content’ and ‘Building Your Book.’ I broke the book into these three sections because I see them as related but independent stages of turning an idea into a finished manuscript.

  • At the end of section one: ‘Creating Your Content,’ the reader should have a good understanding of how to develop the habit of writing regularly, gathering ideas, and fleshing out ideas into intelligible, meaningful, useful content.
  • By the end of section two, ‘Organizing Your Content,’ the reader should be able to organize her content into a related, logical progression. The content explaining idea one should flow naturally into the content explaining idea two. Those two ideas, in progression, should prepare the reader for idea three and so on.
  • Section three, ‘Building Your Book,’ is all about gathering the pieces many authors never consider (like front matter and back matter) that actually turn a manuscript into a book.

In the Introduction, I explain the reasons for these three sections in advance so the reader knows what to expect before getting to chapter one, page one. That brings us back to question number 1.

Why wait until we’re done?

If the Introduction is at the front of the book, why wait to write it until after you’ve written the conclusion?

Good question! Let me ask you this. Would you rather hear about your friend’s trip around the world before they leave or after they return? The answer is easy – after they return. That’s because, no matter how well your friend has planned his trip, he doesn’t really know how it turned out until the trip is over.

You have an idea of everything you want to cover in your book and the steps you’ll need to take to get from beginning to end. But the truth is that, no matter how well you’ve got it planned out, you really don’t know completely what your book is about or how it flows or is organized until after you’ve created and organized your content. A lot of twists and turns may appear on the road that you never anticipate beforehand. Until you’ve taken the trip yourself, there’s no need to explain it to others. Until you’ve written and organized the body of your book, you’re not ready to introduce it to others.


  1. What is it you want your reader to take away from reading your book? Craft a short explanation of the benefit your reader will receive from this book for your Introduction.
  2. Is there anything about how you’ve structured your content that may be helpful to the reader before she begins reading? Explain how you’ve chosen to present your message that may be helpful for the reader to know ahead of time.
  3. Is there a question you want the reader to be asking? Your introduction is also a good opportunity to engage your reader and challenge her to seek the answer to her questions as she reads your book. What kind of question would you want to challenge the reader with?

Next: Front Matter and Back Matter.

Click here to visit module 13 “Front Matter & Back Matter”