Sunday, June 26, 2016



This is dedicated to the one I love…” so began a popular song a few decades ago. That opening line caught the listener’s attention, and your Dedication page can likewise capture your reader’s notice.

Judy Axtell dedicated But…at What Cost, her memoir-plus-political-tract, “To Frederick Douglass and his deep understanding of human nature and freedom,” celebrating a great African-American and alerting her readers that she is not the stereotype they have when they think of conservatives.

The dedication of my Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion goes:

Offered with love to Tina Su Cooper, the light of my life
    Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
    Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

   Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping
   For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
–Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

   All that we love deeply becomes part of us.
–Helen Keller

From the dedication, the reader knows immediately that this is a story about a deep and long-lasting love that has endured, among other things, long separation.

The dedication to Kidnapped Twice: Then Betrayed and Abused, by Mary E. Seaman and myself, is simply, “To those who care deeply about the treatment of the least powerful among us: our children, our pets, and our wildlife.” It tells you a lot, favorably, about Mary right away.

One more example: novelist Mark Hazard (2015) dedicates his Corus and the Case of the Chaos: A Detective Mystery,For Rudy. Best dog ever.” It does not necessarily indicate Hazard lacks friends and family. Rather, it sets up the novel’s theme: a master detective struggling with depression triggered by the death of his beloved dog.

Your Table of Contents can pique the reader’s interest, help the reader know what to expect, make it easy to find material within the book if there is no index, and often will show up in brief descriptions of the book, such as Amazon’s Inside the Book feature.

Your Acknowledgments give you the opportunity to thank those who have contributed to your life and to your book. What a nice way to thank them! Whom you praise may add to your credibility and gravitas.

The Foreword should be written by someone who likes what you have written, says so, and has credibility because of position and accomplishments.

Your Preface lets you tell your readers why you wrote the book and why it is likely to be of value to them.

Not all books will have all these elements, but most should.

With these out of the way, we move on to your Introduction.


We’ll explore some options for your introduction, which options will be different for the different nonfiction genres.

First, “how to” book introductions are discussed.

Given that the popular topics of health, wealth, and personal relationships are all susceptible to the “how to” treatment, this approach covers a lot of ground. After the introduction, you will go into much more detail on why and how. Memoirs need a different approach, discussed after this.

          8 Steps to a Compelling “How To” Book Introduction

This is based on an excellent Amazon Kindle ebook, Book Launch, by highly successful writer and publisher Chandler Bolt and co-author J. Roper. The book is subtitled “How to write, market, and self-publish your first bestseller in 3 months or less AND use it to start and grow a six-figure income.” Modest claims rarely sell books.

Bolt notes that number-one bookseller gives the first 10% of the book in its “Inside the Book” feature, so your Table of Contents and your Introduction need to grab the reader.

Here are Bolt’s eight steps:
1. Identify the problem. Let the reader know what problem you will be solving.
2. Present the solution briefly.  Your book will show how to solve the problem by….
3. Reassert your credibility. Tell who you are and why you wrote the book and why your advice should be trusted.
4. Restate the benefits. Tell reader what they will get, again, in more detail.
5. Give them proof. Tell some stories, briefly.
         6. Make a promise. Bigger is better, as long as you deliver.
7. Warn against waiting.  If they wait, they may lose out on benefits.
8. Get them to start reading immediately.  Read it now, to be ready whenever.

Chandler Bolt’s book is packed with useful information and serves as an effective advertisement for his training program: Adria Goldman Gross and I used this outline to introduce our book (Gross and Cooper, 2015) on reducing medical billing and re-imbursement errors.

          Writing a Riveting Introduction to Your Memoir

If you need some introductory material, perhaps it is best to place it in your preface. The introduction to your memoir should be something dramatic, something to engage the reader, probably a crisis in your life of some sort. Ideally, the reader would have to go farther in the book to find the resolution of the crisis, so this first introductory material ends with a natural cliff-hanger.

You are going to follow this crisis section with a description of what led up to the crisis. After that, describe the resolution, if any, and the lessons to be learned from your experience. You may choose to include added material, such as references that will be of help to the reader.


Excerpted from my recent opus, Write Your Book with Me, published by Outskirts Press and available through OP and online booksellers such as and See also my site

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