Moving Forward with a Foreword: How to Get the Ultimate Endorsement

P.V. Kannan’s book The Age of Intent: Using Artificial Intelligence to Deliver a Superior Customer Experience had all the elements necessary to make an impact. P.V. is a respected technologist and entrepreneur with expertise in artificial intelligence (AI), the cutting-edge technology widely predicted to transform the business world. P.V.’s book had great case studies, great research, and a great design. What else could the book possibly need to take it over the top? A killer foreword. A valuable foreword can enhance an author’s credibility and a book’s marketability.

That’s when the brainstorming started. P.V. curated a wish list of names: CEOs, technologists, bestselling authors, and Thomas L. Friedman, the influential columnist from the New York Times. Friedman is a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and internationally renowned for his reporting on the Middle East, foreign affairs, globalization, and the environment. P.V. crossed paths with Friedman in 2004 while Friedman was shooting a documentary on outsourcing for the New York Times and Discovery and has been featured in his books The World Is Flat and That Used to Be Us.


The ask:

P.V. waited until his book had a final cover design and was nearly finished with researching and editing. Then he gave Friedman a copy of the manuscript and asked whether he would consider contributing a foreword if he was impressed.

Friedman has all the qualities of a great foreword writer. He has 1) name recognition, 2) a well-respected and established platform, and 3) a willingness to promote the book. Not only did Friedman deliver an engaging foreword that provided a thorough overview of the current boom in AI technology and P.V.’s expertise on the subject matter, but he also wrote a column about The Age of Intent’s subject matter, “A.I. Still Needs H.I. (Human Intelligence) for Now,” using his own and NYT’s channels to get word out about the book. The book also received attention in other outlets. For example, P.V. Kannan and his coauthor, Josh Bernoff, later wrote two articles on AI for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan Management Review titled “The Future of Customer Service Is AI-Human Collaboration” and “Four Challenges to Overcome for AI-Driven Customer Experience.”


How do I get a foreword?

There are two types of people you can solicit for forewords: people you know, and people you don’t.

People you know are the easiest people to ask for a foreword. They are already in your network, and you have the relationship to reach out and ask for their contribution. They may not even ask to see the manuscript or table of contents.

The network of people you know may not be direct contacts. You can tap into the connections of your publisher, book publicist, or ghostwriter to see who they could introduce you to. Here at Amplify, Andrew Yang, the champion of universal basic income, provided a testimonial for Our Future: The Basic Income Plan for Peace, Justice, Liberty, Democracy, and Personal Dignity by Steven Shafarman. The CEO of Zoom, Eric Yuan, is writing a foreword for Paul Epstein’s forthcoming The Power of Playing Defense. And as a result of introducing them, Amplify author Tracy Maylett provided a foreword for another Amplify title in the works, The Virtual Events Playbook by Lee Deaner, Nick Zerby, and Stanley Saint-Louis.

People you don’t know are more difficult to secure, but not impossible. Usually, these people have expertise in the subject matter in your book and would garner attention. Research their contact information early, but plan to reach out later in the process if you don’t know them. In order to make a good impression, you will need to provide the potential foreword writer with the book’s cover image and two sample chapters at minimum. If possible, it’s best to send the manuscript in full along with a list of other notable people affiliated with the book, whether they are providing a testimonial for the back cover or are quoted in the text itself. Foreword contributors often welcome a draft or editorial ideas in advance, too, but only offer a draft if they are too busy to write it themselves.

The less connection you have, the more finalized you want the book to be so you have great material to share. And be prepared to wait for their response. When you don’t have an immediate connection to the person, it’ll take follow-up and patience to get them on board, but they can be worth the wait.

Start your search for people you don’t know by creating a wish list of people you would like to write the foreword. It’s good to aim high, but keep it reasonable. Do you know how many times authors have asked to secure Oprah, Ellen, or Elon Musk?

One question people often ask is if they should pay their foreword writer. The answer? No. Never. The writer is already getting something out of it: increased visibility.


Does my book need a foreword?

Authors ask us if they should have a foreword for their book all the time, and the answer is: it depends. Not every book requires one. Authors who are thought leaders, entrepreneurs, or subject matter experts benefit most from forewords. From the right source, the foreword will bolster the book’s credibility and can help with promotion and sales.

So, who is that right person? Think back to Thomas L. Friedman and The Age of Intent. The ideal foreword writer will have:

-Name recognition or be respected in their field
-A marketing platform greater than yours
-A willingness to use their platform to benefit your book

It’s rare to have all three of these checked like Friedman. If the potential foreword writer has one or two of these qualities, it’s probably still a good idea to move forward.

A well-written foreword should provide you with:

-An introduction to you and your book
-An anecdote or an application of what your book discusses
-A testimonial as to why readers should read your book
-Credibility in your subject area by association with the writer

To get a valuable foreword like The Age of Intent did, work your network of personal and professional relationships to find the right person who adds value to your book. Partnering with an advantageous foreword writer spreads your book far and wide and connects you with your target audience better. A foreword is one piece of the puzzle in launching your book’s success.




As the CEO at
Amplify Publishing and Mascot Books, Naren Aryal is a recognized publishing industry expert. Naren advises authors, thought leaders, and various organizations on the opportunities and challenges that exist in the evolving publishing world. He’s guided the company’s growth from a single children’s book in 2003 to becoming one of the fastest growing and most respected hybrid publishing companies in the world. Today, Mascot Books publishes hundreds of books a year across all genres, and Amplify Publishing is a leading nonfiction imprint specializing in “big ideas” from some of the most reputable names in business and politics.

Naren frequently speaks at publishing and business events about the importance of developing compelling content and a robust author platform. He is also the author of How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform.

Prior to entering the world of books, Naren worked as a lawyer, advising technology companies in the Washington, D.C. area. He holds a B.S. in Finance from Virginia Tech and Juris Doctor from University of Denver.

 

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The Art and Science of Subtitles

If titles are hard to write, subtitles can be even harder. They are the meat of the title by telling the reader exactly what your book is about. While titles are short and creative, subtitles are longer and more literal. For example, the Amplify book The Age of Intent by P.V. Kannan has a title that is bold, attractive, and attention-grabbing. But what is the book actually about? You don’t know until its subtitle: Using Artificial Intelligence to Deliver a Superior Customer Experience. Now it becomes clear it’s a book about artificial intelligence and companies’ use of AI.

Subtitles establish a contact between the author and the reader. As an author, you’re promising a reader (or potential reader) that if they invest in you, they will increase their knowledge about a given subject matter, and by doing so, they will be better informed and will be able to achieve takeaways that will interest or benefit them. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, for example, offers three things to the reader: a better work schedule, freedom of movement, and wealth. Subtitles are nothing short of a promise, so crafting a good subtitle is crucial for your book’s success.


Tips for a Good Subtitle

  1. Speak directly to your target market
  2. Differentiate your book by revealing its niche or specialty in the book marketplace. Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert Kiyosaki uses its subtitle to pinpoint its reader. Someone who is poor or middle class and wants to learn about the rich people’s financial philosophy is going to pick up his book. Remember, in order to speak to your target market, you have to have a clear understanding of who that is.

  1. Keep Google and Amazon in mind 
Thinking of the keywords and web searches readers will use to find your book and including those in your subtitle will maximize discoverability (a process called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO). Comparison titles can also be instructive in how to target your audience. Keep Amazon genres and subgenres in mind, too. For instance, Game Changer: The Story of Pictionary and How I Turned a Simple Idea into the Bestselling Board Game in the World
  1. by Rob Angel fits into the Amazon subgenres “Board Games,” “Entrepreneurship,” and “Actor & Entertainer Biographies.” His subtitle addresses each of those categories to increase hits.

  1. Escalate in value
    If your subtitle is going to say something like “How to Turn Unreasonable Expectations Into Lasting Relationships” (as does the subtitle for Marketing to the Entitled Consumer by Nick Worth and Dave Frankland), make sure it escalates in value. You want to start with something less valuable that the reader wants to lose—“unreasonable expectations”—and end with gaining something attractive—“lasting relationships”. Ensure you’re tapping into the reader’s desire to achieve something great.

    Pay attention to rhythm
    A no-brainer, but critical. Subtitles should complement their titles. The famous title Freakonomics slides right into A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. Read your title and subtitle out loud together. Does it roll off the tongue? It should—if not, get back to the drawing board.

    Whatever you choose for your subtitle, remember a good subtitle markets your book and enters into a contract with the reader. Craft them thoughtfully and they can yield great returns.




    As the CEO at
    Amplify Publishing and Mascot Books, Naren Aryal is a recognized publishing industry expert. Naren advises authors, thought leaders, and various organizations on the opportunities and challenges that exist in the evolving publishing world. He’s guided the company’s growth from a single children’s book in 2003 to becoming one of the fastest growing and most respected hybrid publishing companies in the world. Today, Mascot Books publishes hundreds of books a year across all genres, and Amplify Publishing is a leading nonfiction imprint specializing in “big ideas” from some of the most reputable names in business and politics. 


    Naren frequently speaks at publishing and business events about the importance of developing compelling content and a robust author platform. He is also the author of
    How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform.

    Prior to entering the world of books, Naren worked as a lawyer, advising technology companies in the Washington, D.C. area. He holds a B.S. in Finance from Virginia Tech and Juris Doctor from University of Denver.

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    Promotion in a Pandemic?

    The comparisons to life in the aftermath of September 11 to the current (and ever-evolving) challenges we face with the coronavirus COVID-19 are unavoidable. One of the post-9/11 moments etched in millions of American’s minds is the episode of Saturday Night Live that aired on September 29, 2001.

    Surrounded by Ground Zero first responders, then-Mayor Rudy Guiliani opened the show, with Paul Simon performing “The Boxer.” At the end of this unprecedented cold open, show-runner Lorne Michaels asked Guiliani a simple question: “Can we be funny?” 

    Guiliani’s reply: “Why start now?”

    In times of extreme uncertainty, it’s only natural to ask yourself if now is the right time to resume, especially when it comes to book promotion. The key is authenticity. Does your expertise lend itself to the situation at hand? Could it provide solutions? Or a path to much-needed distraction? 

    Last week, we gave an inside look into how Melissa Agnes, crisis management expert and author of Crisis Readyturned on a dime to put her expertise to work. Our other Amplify authors are on the same path, leveraging their thought leadership and further rooting their platform and positioning.

    BigSpeak Speakers Bureau compiled a list of top webinar and keynote speakers featuring Invisible Solutions author Stephen Shapiro. “Provocative innovation evangelist Stephen Shapiro knows all about creating high-performing teams that can think outside the box and tackle challenges that seem impossible. For organizations that fear falling behind in rapidly shifting situations, Stephen is an obvious choice. He’s available for pre-recorded keynotes, live keynotes and webinars.” As small businesses to global corporations shift to remote work, Stephen’s approach was made for this. 

    NBA Life Optimization Coach David Nurse, who’s debut book Pivot & Go will be out this summer, has worked with over 100 NBA players with personal and professional development on and off the court. Recognizing the sudden halt in all sports, from the pro’s on down, David’s offering one-on-one Skype/FaceTime coaching sessions for high school and youth sports coaches.

    And not only was P.V. Kannan, author of The Age of Intent, featured in an MIT Sloan Management Review webinar on the future of artificial intelligence, his presentation is now available on demand for free, allowing users access to the content anytime. A working parent now juggling remote work and childcare, for example, has the flexibility to engage with P.V.’s expertise on their time, increasing eyeballs and, likely, book sales.

    Our answer? Start now.

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