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Tomorrow, Vol. 2 of my book, “The Digital Photography Book” goes to press, and this past week or so I’ve been struggling with something I deal with in every book I write, and that is; “How do I get my readers to read the introduction to the book?”

I put information in these introductions that’s actually very important, including things like where the link is to download the photos used in the book, and which versions of the software the book works with, and workarounds if you have older versions, and my introductions (short as they are) are designed to do one thing; make the book more useful for my readers. I really care that if people invest in one of my books, that they get more than their money’s worth, and if they skip the intro, they will definitely miss out some of the features of the book, why certain things are written the way they are, and much more.

But from my years of research, I’ve found that most people skip over any introduction (not just in my books, but in all books). I understand, they want to get right to the meat of the book, so I keep my intros very short, but it doesn’t help. I know people skip over it, because daily (and I mean each and every single day), I get numerous emails from readers asking the very questions which are answered in those intros. I’ve tried every trick in the book to get people to read my short intros, including:

  • Naming the intro Chapter 0
  • Disguising it as a real tutorial
  • Telling the reader NOT to read this section
  • Using humor (well, a lame attempt at humor) to get the reader involved
  • Including it at the front of Chapter 1
  • And basically camouflaging it any way I can, to get people to actually take two minutes and read it.

So here’s where I need your help. I’ve already written the introduction to this book, and it’s particularly important because this is a Vol 2. and it will be for two different readers: (1) People who bought the first book, and will want to know how this relates to the first volume, and where I posted some video clips with expanded information from the book, etc. and (2) People who haven’t bought Vol. 1 and need to know how the book works, which cameras it works for, and a host of things they would be sending me (or my publisher) emails about.

Anyway, if you have any ideas or suggestions on what I can do to get my readers to read these short intros (I could rewrite it tonight, and have it edited by tomorrow’s deadline) I would be seriously indebted to you. In fact, I take this so seriously, that if you post an idea or suggestion here (as a comment) that makes me rewrite the intro tonight, I will arrange for you to have a free full conference pass to the Photoshop World Conference & Expo, coming up in April in Orlando, FL. If I don’t wind up rewriting it, but incorporate one of your ideas, I’ll still send you a signed copy of the book, with my thanks and gratitude.

But beyond just snagging the pass or a signed book, you’ll be helping me and my readers, immeasurably, and you’ll remove the single most frustrating obstacle I face in writing educational books, for that I will be forever indebted.

Just post any ideas you have here, and even if I don’t wind up rewriting this intro, there’s always the next book and if I can incorporate some of your suggestions, and make a few more people read the intros, it will have been a really worthwhile effort for both of us.

Thanks in advance to you all for your help, ideas, and suggestions, and for giving me the honor of getting to write books for you (Even though I’m sometimes silly in my books, it’s a job I take very seriously).