You can boost a book's exposure and your own authority positioning– particularly at launch and during the early weeks – by aligning yourself with an celebrity expert in a niche.
Now, I don't mean a celebrity like Taylor Swift, Jimmy Fallon or Donald Trump. I mean a known expert in your specific market.
An expert foreword helps back your book with credibility, especially if you haven’t written in the niche extensively or built your own audience up via a blog or social media account.
Also, when an expert writes a foreword for your book, they might share that information with their audience, and fans of that person will be more likely to buy the book or at least become aware of you and your message.
But how do you get an industry celebrity to write a foreword?
1.) MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM TO SAY “YES”
The biggest resistance someone will have in writing a foreword for you is…their time.
They are thinking:
“OK, I have to read this entire book, then write a foreword, then get it edited and then send it to the author….and they might send it back to me with more changes. That's a lot of work!”
So, how can you make this process easier.
Try what we call an “Interview Foreword”.
All you do, is ask the person if you can interview them about the general topics covered in the book. Now, you should be targeting a person with some type of knowledge on the topic…so it will be easy for them to talk about the concepts in the book.
Then, you just use a transcript of that interview as your foreword. Make sure to specify that it's an interview wherever you mention the foreword. Something like, “Foreword: An Interview With Joe Smith”
2.) CONSIDER FOREWORDS EARLY
First, you should start considering experts for a foreword or for endorsements early in the process.
At the proposal stage, you should know what your book is about and have some potential foreword writers in mind.
If you’re going the traditional publishing route, your publisher might assist with contacting someone to write your foreword, but you should always be prepared to do the asking yourself regardless of publishing type.
3.) DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE?
The easiest way is to ask someone you know.
Do you know someone in your work network, social circle, or family who is an expert in your topic?
It’s especially helpful if the person has credentials, such as an MD, doctorate, or other recognizable professional title.
4.) DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO KNOWS SOMEONE?
If you don’t personally know someone, do you know someone who does?
Put the call out to friends, family, and co-workers: Do you know someone who has this skill or this credential?
If you’re writing a book in the realm of children’s health, ask who knows a pediatrician.
If you’re writing a book about public speaking, ask if anyone is acquainted with a known TED speaker.
Go a step further and ask if your friend or family member is willing to arrange an introduction to this expert.
5.) NETWORKING WHEN CONNECTIONS ARE EXHAUSTED
You might be surprised by the options your social and work network turns up, but it’s also possible that no one you know has a connection to a thought leader in your area.
When that happens, it’s time to hit networking circles online and in person. Start attending events held by associations related to your topic; if you aren’t already a member of such groups, consider joining.
Research experts in your topic online.
Follow potential foreword writers via social media and read their webpages and blogs.
Start interacting with them early in the book writing process to build up an online relationship or make them aware of you.
6.) ASKING FOR THE FOREWORD
It’s obviously easier to ask someone you know for a foreword. Simply reach out in the communication format that person is most comfortable with and ask in a non-pressuring, professional manner.
Have a short synopsis of your book ready, along with a draft or outline should they ask for more information. Be prepared to detail exactly what you are looking for in a foreword along with suggestions for content the person might include.
If you’re asking a friend-of-a-friend, first see if your friend will set up an introduction.
The friend might mention that you are looking for a foreword and he or she believes the acquaintance is the right person for the job.
Without an introduction, make sure you mention how you got the person’s name and contact number when you make the ask – otherwise, it might seem like you’re spamming the person.
Asking someone you don’t have a connection with – even through a friend – can be most difficult. Reach out through online contact forms or private social media messaging – don’t put the expert on the spot by asking publicly.
Be concise and professional when you ask, and be prepared that someone might say no.
When searching for a thought leader to write a foreword, you are likely to get a few nos.
Keep trying, but don’t let someone know you asked others before them. Keep communications professional and personable, and eventually you’ll find someone willing to write a foreword.