How to Do a Foreword to an Autobiography

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Writing a foreword for a book constitutes your endorsement of the material.
Writing a foreword for a book constitutes your endorsement of the material. (Image: Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Writing a foreword to an autobiography requires a thorough and in-depth understanding of the author you are writing about and the subject material in the book you are recommending. Being invited to do a foreword to an autobiography indicates you are considered an expert in your particular field. Your foreword constitutes your recommendation of the book, its author and your assessment of the accuracy of the book's content. Your endorsement will also be used to market and sell the book, and will be a reflection on you personally.

Read the book cover-to-cover and take notes about themes, elements and sections of the book that you feel are representative of the manuscript as a whole that would appeal to potential readers.

Interview the writer about his specific purpose for writing his autobiography. Is it to educate, inform, stir debate or entertain? What does he hope the reader will take away from the book? Use this information to craft the best “slant” for your foreword. For example, if the autobiography is on overcoming addiction, and the author’s intent is to show the spiritual side of going through treatment, your foreword should address the personal emotional struggle of the process. If, however, the author’s intent is to demonstrate how tough love from his parents got him through the ordeal, your foreword might focus on the role of family dynamics in overcoming addiction.

Develop an outline that gives readers both a “big picture” summary of the book as well as a personal snapshot of what you personally find most appealing about the book and its content. Is it the author’s storytelling ability, its candid approach or its introspective quality? Your foreword should provide readers with a “hook” that makes them want to read more.

Using your outline as a guide, develop your introduction, which should provide an attention-grabbing snippet from the book that draws readers in.

Write a personal anecdote that clarifies your personal relationship to the author and explains why you are recommending the book. Explaining your connection to the author and your understanding of why he wrote the book will provide the book with additional credibility.

Tips & Warnings

  • Verify, either through the author or an independent source, the accuracy and validity of the autobiography. If there are claims, statistics or third-party accounts that do nor ring true, or seem questionable to you, consult with the author to discuss your concerns and clarify any areas of debate.

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