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Nice to meet you - Four tips to writing the perfect non-fiction introduction

So you’ve written a non-fiction book on a subject you know a lot about, you’ve got the cover down, the blurb is perfect, but how do you distinguish yourself from other factual books on the same subject? You need a great introduction. Here’s how.

When writing a non-fiction, or factual book it’s often one of many, and difficult to show why your book is the definitive book on a subject in a sea of books talking about the same thing. When it comes to facts how can you be sure that readers will read your version rather than someone else’s?

Write for a specific person

When it comes to non-fiction, authors will normally be very well-versed on the subject, it’ll be something that they are passionate about and enjoy. Unless it’s a memoir, you should steer clear of telling your personal story, or explaining how and why you got involved in the subject. This book is not for you, it’s a source of information that you’re making available to others.

A reader is buying your book in order to make sue of the information inside. You need to decide who that person is, and write the intro for them. Writing for a specific person makes hooking them easier because you know what their wants and needs are.

Ask yourself some questions:

  • Who are they?
  • Why have they chosen my book?
  • What do they want and need?
  • How can I fulfil them?

Once you’ve got the answers to those questions you’ll be in a better position to write your intro to convince your target reader that your book is the one to buy.

Address the issue

Look at the wants and needs of your reader. They have an issue that needs addressing. They might want to lose weight, travel to a particular country, or learn about a particular subject.

You need to explain how your book will address those issues in order to solve them. If you don’t, then your reader will be lost and turn to a book that will.

How is your book structured? What wants and needs of the reader are you fulfilling? Why is your book the definitive material on the subject and therefore the one that your reader should buy?

Explain your book in the intro and make sure that your reader knows what to expect from it.

Set your tone

Your introduction is your first impression with your reader as an author. It’s how you form a bond with the reader and how they decide to choose your book above any others. So you need to set the tone and establish who you are.

I don’t mean in a sense of a small biography, remember not to tell your story, that’s not why your reader is interested in buying the book. Explain how your experiences and qualifications set you apart from the rest.

It’s also a chance to put across your writing style, it could be formal, jokey, casual and chummy, or authoritative.

Set the goals

A person reading your book has a goal, a reason for choosing that particular subject. You have to know what the goals of your book are and make sure the reader knows they align with their own. Spell it out for them so there is no mistake that your book can help them achieve what they’re setting out to do.

In the case of a weight loss book, you might want to explain that you will help them lose X pounds in X months, and help them keep it off by following your strategy. If it’s a travel guide, you could promise that you will reveal all the hidden beautiful or entertaining areas of country that most tourists aren’t aware of.

Make a promise to your reader, set the goals that your book will help them reach. If you keep to them you will establish an element of trust with your reader who will come back for more.

Making sure you’ve covered these four main parts of your intro will ensure your reader knows that your book is the one they need, turning a browse into a sale, and hopefully telling their friends about it too.

Let us know what you think about introductions below, and be sure to sign up to our newsletter which includes tips and tricks, and special offers for our services, including ready-made book covers and designs, eBook formatting, and promotional tools.

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