I Took Your Advice and Rewrote The Intro
First, thanks to the nearly 300 of you who took the time to post thoughtful, in-depth, and creative ideas for how to get my book intros read by more readers. I sat down and read each and every post in its entirely, and honestly, I really learned a lot. Here’s some of what I learned:
- A lot of you admitted to skipping over the intros entirely (which confirmed to me that I need to try something new).
- However, It was really nice to see how many of you not only read my full intros, but totally “get” my quirky sense of humor, and why I have been writing the intros the way I have.
- It does seem like perhaps more readers just quickly skim or just scan the intros, though
- A lot of people think they should be shorter and more concise
- A lot of people think I should leave my intros just as they are
- A surprising number of people thought I should including sexy photos to entice people to stop and read them (the whole “sex sells’ thing).
- A lot of people thought that I should just change the name of the Intro to something that would capture more attention (I agree, and I stopped calling my introductions, “Introduction” a long time ago)
- A number of people thought I should either include a contest, or a treasure hunt or hide a password, or include some sort of challenge to get to people to read it
- Lots of people really liked the way I did the intro for my “Photoshop Seven-Point-System” (which really made my day, and helped me to know I was on the right track with the changes I made there)
The good news is: I took your advice; I did wind up rewriting the entire intro section, primarily because of an idea by a reader named Robin (congrats Robin—you won a full conference pass to Photoshop World Orlando), which was to take parts of the intro and scatter them throughout the first chapter. Since people are already reading the chapter, they can’t miss reading the intro right along with it, so I added these things at the end of some of the techniques (or I put them in Tip boxes, which was an idea posted by Larry Becker, and a host of others). So, my personal thanks to Robin (I’ll be contacting you directly to arrange your pass).Although I hadn’t planned on it, a second person is going to Photoshop World, and that is Robert Minkus, who had the idea of using the headline “The 10 things you must know about this book” followed by 10 very short bullet-point style paragraphs, which is exactly what I did.Now, there were other great ideas which I also incorporated into the book, and these people will all be getting a signed copy of the book (when it comes out at the end of the month). The ideas included:
- Making the intro part of Chapter 1. That’s exactly what I did in Volume 1, and I’m continuing that same idea in Vol. 2, but Mike Myer reinforced that I was on the right track (and he had literally dozens of seconds of his idea), so he gets a copy.
- Kathleen Difato gets a book for her idea to put the link to get downloads (or whatever), right in the first few sentence (which I did).
- Remind the reader to go back and read the first few pages of Chapter 1 throughout the book, which I did (books go to Stacie C. Morris and Bill Maddux, and Francesco D’ Amico)
- Do an intro video, and post it online, was a great idea–and I did it. I did the full version of the intro (basically, the original longer version of the intro where I explain everything), on video and posted it on a page where readers can get the full scroop. This idea got signed books for Kevin Zdyb, Jason D. Moore, Daniel, David Morris, and Dennis Zito.
- I really liked Heather’s title of “The things you wished you had known before you read this book” and I incorporated that, and she gets a book, too.
- Chuck gets a book just because he really “got” what my silly one-page chapter intros are about; He wrote: “I love reading your chapter Intros. They really help me unwind a little after buckling down on a tutorial or chapter.” When I read his comment, it was tickled to death. I also liked his “This chapter is useless without this stuff” title idea.
- I also did make the intro less than half as long, and more to the point (a number of people made this comment, but it kind of goes back to Robin’s original idea, which was to boil it down to 10 short paragraphs.
Now, there are other things, that didn’t make it into this book, but I feel I could incorporate into some of my Photoshop books, or other titles, so I want to recognize those readers with a book as well. Their ideas included:
- Referencing the introduction at the beginning of Chapter 1 (James Prechel)
- “Have a reference page at the beginning with simple headings: Where to download the workfiles, which software you need, etc.” (Les)
- “Call the Intro “Fast Start” and maybe more folks will read it.” (Monte)
- Post it in the back of the book: “When people do realize they need to know things, they’ll look at the back of the book first. That’s where technical stuff goes isn’t it? Never at the front.” (Martin)
- Make the introduction itself part of the downloaded files. Publish in the book the download url and entitle the page “Read this book in half the time.” At the beginning of the downloaded introduction say something like “Sorry I lied (sort of). But by reading this introduction you will have information that keeps you from re-reading the book!” (Ron Nelson)
- “Just call the intro a “Special Bonus Chapter.” Everyone likes to think that they are getting something extra for free.” (Robbie R)
- “I would put it at the end of chapter one. People will be into reading the book by then, and will remember that info being at the first part of the book.” (Brent Moser)
- “Have a page titled INTRODUCTION – then in small print say… this page/section left intentionally (almost) blank.” (Candy)
- And Genaro gets a book for his comment: “The Intro for me has always set the mood for the chapters to follow.” He’s another guy who “gets it (me).” It’s why we spend the inordinate amount of money and time for the Photoshop World keynote; it sets the tone for the entire conference, which is “we’re here to learn but we’re going to have fun doing it” which is the theme of every book I’ve ever written. Thank you Geoaro. You warmed my heart.
Now, you’re not allowed to whine, petition, grouse, or otherwise complain if you posted an idea that didn’t win you a signed book, or if you posted a similar idea to someone who actually did win a book. I chose the people whose comments struck a chord with me, or posted the idea first…or sometimes both. I read every comment and for whatever reason these folks comments just stood out to me. So, while I had to give more Photoshop World conference passes, and signed books than I had planned, I really feel like I gained so much more (even more than I had hoped), and I’ve really taken your advice and ideas to heart; I incorporated the parts that struck a chord with me, and we’ll see how it all works in the new book (I have high hopes for it, since it was formed with your help). Again, my heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed their time and effort to help me, and most importantly, future readers of my books. I owe a debt of gratitude to each and every one of you.