The title, the first sentence, the first paragraph, the first page, the preface… these are the five most important parts of your how to book. Why? Because these are the parts that will cause the reader to keep reading. And if the reader keeps reading they will eventually read the whole book! But if any one of these parts fails… the reader will stop reading.

So how can you be sure you are writing a captivating preface for your book?

The key is to start with the reader. Who are they? Why are they going to read your book? What is their pain point or problem that your book is going to resolve for them? Whatever your answers, whatever the rest of the book says, the books begins and ends with the reader and their pain points and problems. Or if you are positive, with a pleasure point. In between is your solution. So to keep the reader reading, focus on the reader.

The second part of the answer is to tell a story. You don’t normally think of a non-fiction book as having a story. But it does. They all do. And it’s the same story — just the details change. What’s the story? It’s the story of how you decided to write this book. Of how you met the same problems and solved them.

Don’t underestimate the value of this story.

Remember how you have been admonished to think of your target reader as a friend sitting across the dining room table from you. Or any other of a dozen other locations. The reason for this is to get you thinking of your reader as a real person — a person you know and like.

Well this story does the same thing to your reader. Just in reverse. It causes them to think of you as a real person… a friend, a person they like… and a person whom they can identify with.

So tell a story which establishes you as a real person who’s dealt with the same problem as your reader… and learned how to overcome it.

There are other techniques as well. But none will have the impact of writing a story.

For example, you can start the preface off with a question. This question can help to establish what the book is about. It can also help to establish your rapport with the reader. This works especially best if you then follow it up with a story.

Alternatively, you can start the preface off with an emotionally charged statement. A statement which is targeted toward the target reader’s pain or problem.

The point is to arrange the preface in a way that emotionally touches the reader. And a story about the author — and why this book is so important to your reader.

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