How to Write the Book Introduction to Hook Your Reader

When people are looking for new books to explore, there are three elements that get their attention:

  • The cover
  • The text at the back of the cover
  • The introduction

You’ll think about the first two elements after you write the book. The introduction, however, has no time to wait. All great books start with greatness.

Do you remember the first sentence of Anna Karenina? “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” After reading that first sentence and the entire introduction, you just know that something extraordinary will follow. You know it’s more than just another love story.

How do you get there? How do you craft the perfect introduction to hook the reader?

We have few tips to offer.

1. Don’t Skip the It

Your first chapter may be the introduction. May writers do that. Tolstoy did it. Does that mean you should do it? Not necessarily.

An introduction is where you make the case. You tell the readers what this book is about and you explain why it’s an important book to read. It’s what convinces the readers your book has value.

Do you know how George R.R. Martin started A Game of Thrones? With a prologue. The author gets straight into the story, but this feels like an introduction we definitely need for the complex plot that follows.

2. Find the Hook

Your first sentence is a hook. When a book’s cover gets someone’s attention in the store, they will skip through the text on the back of the cover. Most people will then get to the first page of the introduction. They will read the first sentence. Will it make them pick up the book?

Let’s check out an example: Please Look After Mom by Kyung-sook Shin. This is how it starts:

“It’s been one week since Mom went missing.”

Boom. The author cuts through the chase. You don’t get a long, boring introduction that tells you what happened before the mother went missing. This hook is clear and straightforward. That’s the effect you want. Aim for a short, concise sentence that grasps the essence of your book.

3. Identify the Problem

Every book has a problem. You’ll find it in the introduction of Tolstoy’s Karenina, and it’s right in the hook in Please Look After Mom.

State a clear problem for your readers right from the outset. You already have a plot, don’t you? Start by identifying the problem for your readers. Be very specific.

4. Give Some Background

When you give background on the problem, you’re building your case. If you’re writing a novel set in World War 1, the reader will appreciate knowing more about the circumstances of the specific society your characters live in.

Have you ever read Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose? It’s a rather simple introduction for a rather complex book. The author gives us an explanation about the manuscript around which the entire novel evolves. Then, he gave us a prologue that prepares us for the actual story.

5. Get Someone Else to Write an Introduction

When you pick up a classic book, you usually find an introduction from the translator or editor. If you get Orwell’s 1984, for example, you’ll see an introduction that tells us how great this author was and how important this book is.

Is this technique reserved solely for the classics? No. If you know a fellow writer who could write a great introduction to your book, why don’t you ask for the favor? Most authors would be happy to have their name featured in a great book.

You can also count on the best paper writing services. When you hire a professional writer, they can write a great introduction for you. Here’s another option: you can collaborate with this writer to write your own introduction. Their feedback and ideas will make you more self-confident.

You have to start that book, in one way or another. You have the option to get straight onto the events. In that case, the first chapter will introduce the reader to the story. You simply cannot avoid an introduction, so you better make it good.

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Julie Petersen

I'm a tutor, writer and a blogger, who features the latest career and educational trends in my articles. At present time I'm running my essay writing blog AskPetersen.com, working on my first ebook dedicated to online learning and practising guest blogging.
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