Editor notes on a book introduction
I’ve been trying to put together an introduction to a book I’m writing. I spent several hours on it, tightened it up, and totally thought I nailed it.
Then I pinged a writer friend of mine for his feedback, mostly expecting to impress him and receive some good encouragement.
I, of course, had not nailed it. His feedback was excellent, however, great stuff for anyone putting together an introductory essay/article, so I’m posting it here along with the original introduction I wrote.
Notes from the editor:
I like this introduction, but I will say it’s a common mistake for authors to:
- Anticipate push back and
- Answer the push back in the opening paragraphs.
This does a couple things that work against you:
- It establishes you as a little insecure about whether your voice matters.
- It actually gives people the push back they might not have thought of.
I’d say a couple things to encourage you:
- Your voice is funny, good, and you have great insight. That’s all you need to sell a lot of copies of a book.
- Get right to it. Make a huge offer up front. Make the reader know you’re funny and smart.
- Don’t address the push back directly. Address it later, but indirectly.
I’d start this book by: Telling a story about who you are, how much you love and hate your son, how much you love and hate your life, how much you don’t want to fuck it all up.
That would be something millions of guys could identify with, and that’s your primary job in your opening paragraphs.
My intro attempt #1:
There’s a plethora of books and articles out there on fatherhood, some even written by real writers. There’s almost a whole genre dedicated to that tongue in cheek, 50’s retro looking kind of funny stuff about how being a dad is hard, but golly it’s worth it. So why add to the bookshelf? Aren’t there enough books out there already? And isn’t fatherhood best learned “in the field,” on your hands and knees with your kid? Why would I pretend you’d care about anything I could write on the subject?
Firstly, I wrote this book for my kind of guy. This book isn’t for over involved, over concerned, truly thoughtful and good at loving people guys. It’s not for guys who naturally make the most out of birthing classes, or who have gobs of energy and attention for their kid. This book is aimed at guys who are self involved, whiney, and immature, but with enough commitment and hope and moments of love truly experienced to have a chance at not completely fucking this thing up… guys like me. These kinds of guys typically need a friend to push a book like this into their hands and said “read this, asshole.” I wrote this book because I really wanted to put something into those guys’ hands.
Secondly, I wanted to write something a guy like me would actually read. In this book I keep things simple, to the point, so you can catch the thought – none of this reading endless pages on the history of some vaccination or behavioral theory. And equally important, I’ve made it raw and funny enough to keep you on the toilet a little while longer (like you needed any help with that). Good thoughts, no fluff, plenty of gnarl and LOL, that’s what interests me, that’s what I wrote. Also, the book is short. It’s not a comprehensive primer on fatherhood. It satisfies itself to only cover the larger boulders guys like us will need to traverse at some point.
And finally, I wrote this book because I wish I had it during the early days of fatherhood. That first 1-2 years I made my life so much harder than it needed to be – it took way too long for my inner commitments to take the shape of my outer reality. I was acting and thinking like a young man, when I needed to be acting and thinking more like a young dad and husband. This book would have helped me then. It would have helped me become comfortable in my own skin, understanding my fears and doubts a little more. It would have shaped me into who I needed to be sooner, cutting out unnecessary anxiety and a potential divorce. That’s why I wrote this book, because each of these tips, tricks, and thoughts represent a piece of learning I wish I’d had a few years ago.
People like me didn’t have a book that spoke to them in their own language about the biggest issues in fatherhood, that’s why I wrote this book… towards the end that we all make the most of fatherhood.