1) Foreword – literally means “before the word.” This is a short introduction to your book written by SOMEONE OTHER THAN THE AUTHOR, such as a well-known celebrity or a specialist in the topic of your book. It’s a credible opinion from someone else that both you and your book is worthy of the readers time. This is an endorsement of your knowledge and a major selling tool for the book. A foreword does not generally provide the reader any extra specific information about the book’s subject, but must make an emotional connection with the reader.
2) Preface – sometimes called the “Author’s Note” it explains how the book came about. This is where YOU (the author) tell the reader why the book came about and how. This is where you provide your own credibility by providing any interesting background information such as why you became concerned over an issue, or a personal incident related to your topic. However, do NOT assume readers will actually read this section, so do not include any overly important information here.
3) Introduction – similar to a preface, this section is more likely to be read and therefore may include more pertinent information to your content. Here you are enticing readers and letting them know exactly what to expect from your book. You might do this by discussing the thesis of your work, and the challenges faced in finding solutions. In short, it’s an overview.
4) Prologue – almost the same as an introduction. The difference being, if you write a prologue, an epilogue will be expected. It’s like book ends, or a package deal. So, if you feel a need to provide a type of closure beyond your final chapter – such as what the future for your topic may look like – then you will be writing an epilogue which means you probably want to title the beginning as a prologue rather than an introduction.
I hope these explanations help you to clarify how to begin your own book. Each of these sections is a little different, and performs a specific function to aid in a professional looking product.
Do you include any of these in your own manuscripts?