Monday, January 11, 2016

How Long to Make Your Book Introduction

Have you ever picked up a book, eager to get into the thick of it, and then find yourself groaning through a long, boring introduction? I certainly have, but I also read a lot of books on ancient history and cultural customs that are written on the graduate level. My common solution to this problem is to just skip the introduction entirely, especially if it runs on for over 10 pages.

Keep Your Intro Short and On Topic

As an avid reader, I like short introductions. Tell me why you decided to write this book and tell me how you stumbled upon the subject of the book. Tell me why I am going to love this book and what I am going to learn about. If you want to give yourself pats on the back for your accomplishments, create an "About the Author" page. I will read it if I enjoy your book and want to learn more about you.

Avoid Excessive Name Dropping

You might know these people, but I probably don't. Name dropping in the introduction is nothing more than an accepted form of author-show-off. I honestly don't care how many people think you are brilliant and that all your friends are successful millionaires who live on a yacht in the middle of the ocean, studying underwater volcanic activity. I can't even pronounce half the names you are dropping and I will forget about them as soon as I put the book down. If you must bring up a name, keep it limited to one, maybe two, people, and, for goodness sake, make it interesting.

Intros for Kindle eBooks

Generally, the introductions in the nonfiction books published on Kindle are short, sweet, and to the point. I would say that the introductions average at about 1,000 words or less. This is perfect for the Kindle format because most people who buy nonfiction books on Kindle want to be able to read through the book quickly and not get stuck on a long introduction.

Intros for Print Books

For books that are published in print, keep the introduction under 10 pages. Gone are the days when a write could blather on for 50 pages about absolutely nothing important. The modern reader doesn't care and will ultimately skip over the introduction if it is boring or they will put the book down (or return it) without picking it up again.

Keys for a Good Intro

  • Keep it short.
  • Stay on topic.
  • Tell the reader what your book covers.
  • Keep name dropping to a minimal.
  • Save the bragging for the author's page.

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