How to Write an Acknowledgment for a Book
A book acknowledgment is a perfect opportunity for an author to express gratitude towards all the individuals who helped complete the book. At the same time, it is also a chance for them to connect with the reader by setting the book’s tone. So let us discuss everything you need to know about the book’s acknowledgment.
What is a Book Acknowledgment?
Writing a book is a challenging process, and in most cases, an author needs different types of support to complete the book. A book acknowledgment is a page or section of the book that allows authors to thank everyone who has helped them complete the book. An author can express special thanks to people who have provided emotional, moral, financial, or academic support.
Generally, the acknowledgments page appears as a front matter of the book. You can have a list of five to ten people (or companies) who have made a specific contribution in the author’s journey of completing the book.
The page appears ideally after the preface in a book. It is an integral page of almost any book, in which the author takes the great opportunity to acknowledge the supportive presence of people in their journey.
Who to Thank in the Acknowledgments?
Book acknowledgments were not very common a few decades ago. If you have some old classics, you can check the table of contents. You will rarely see an acknowledgment section in the book. However, the recent trend is not to miss the book acknowledgments. The question is whom you should thank in the book?
Once you have finished the book and before the publishing process starts, you should take some time to create a list of people who helped you in some way in writing the book. The individuals may include:
- your family members or close family- parents, a spouse, children, or grandparents
- Best friends who may have inspired or encouraged you always to write a book
- Editor, Book cover designer, ever-patient publishing manager, or your book publishing team
- Contributors to the content, collaborators
- Contributors of financial support, such as research grants
- Mentors/teachers or your boss
- Organizations (public and permanent forum) who helped you helped you provide some data or information you were looking for in a non fiction book
How to Write your Acknowledgments for a Book?
You need to understand an important point related to the acknowledgments sections. You take much attention when you write your book, the same way, you need to be careful when you prepare the acknowledgments section. When you write acknowledgments, it has to be emotionally powerful. Acknowledgments are not about you but about the people you are naming. The common groups of people who are on the acknowledgments section are going to read it, and it will impact them. Hence, it would help if you put the same effort as you have into writing the content of your book.
There is no rocket science to writing an acknowledgment. Still, if you can take care of the below points, you can indeed develop an excellent acknowledgment for your book.
1. Use your voice:
The acknowledgment page is an opportunity for authors to go ‘off script’ and talk about what they genuinely believe. Using the acknowledgment, you can reveal your personality to the readers and show them your sense of humor. It will help you forge a deeper bond with your audience. Check some of the best acknowledgment pages, and you will feel how the content sticks with you. You can use a more conversational tone. Do not shy from experimenting with your word and tone – you can be funny and quirky while writing your acknowledgment.
Just remember, while doing all of this, you don’t deviate from your purpose of acknowledgment thanking people.
2. Talk more about important people:
As mentioned above, you can have five to ten people in your acknowledgment. However, you will have to decide the priority. There would be some people who would have helped you more than others. It would be best if you thanked those important people specifically and in a straightforward way.
For example, if your husband was that person, you should write something like below:
“I will start by thanking my husband, Jack. He was the strongest pillar of support who helped me throughout the writing process. From the ideation phase to the completion, he was always there for me. He helped me come out of writer’s block every time I was in. Thank you so much, dear.”
You cannot put one line for such important people – “I would like to thank my husband, Jack.”
Similarly, if there are one or two more people, write a detailed thank you note and how they helped you. In most cases, editors and the publishing team play a significant role, and you can thank them by talking about the support and guidance you have received from them in the process.
3. The feeling should be real:
It would be best if you did not write acknowledgements because it has to be in your book. If you can’t be sincere in what you are writing, you can skip doing it. Your sincerity means honestly thanking people who have helped you, then only go ahead.
Once you have that feeling, you have to ensure that it is getting conveyed through the words. Expressing gratitude is a skill, and it should be tough for you to achieve being an author.
However, to be sincere does not mean you go over the top. You are not writing a speech after winning an award. You are just writing what you feel about the people who have helped you in the writing process. There is a thin line between the two, and you should not cross it.
4. Bring in variety:
You cannot thank everyone on your list in the same way. You need to bring in variety. Variety in your sentences takes your acknowledgments section from being good to great. If readers find a series of thank you notes and all being repetitive, they are unlikely to continue. It would help if you tried to express your feelings uniquely. Be creative with your word choice, perspective, and tone.
Here is a perfect example of making an acknowledgment different:
“Jeff and Alice Richmond for their constant loving encouragement and their constant loving interruption, respectively.”
-Tina Fey, Bossypants
How Long should the Acknowledgement Page be?
There is no hard and fast rule for it. You need to realize – your readers may skip the section if they feel like it, but you cannot come back and re-thank everyone who has helped you in your writing journey. Ideally, it would help if you did not worry about the length of your acknowledgment page. The general advice is to keep it to only one page. It would be best to thank everyone on your list using all the tips we have discussed above. However, you must know, brevity is always preferable to verbosity, so you should not write pages thanking the most important people.
If you feel your acknowledgment has become lengthy. You don’t want to cut it short or make it boring for readers by putting it in front, and you always have the option to put it at the end of the book.
What to Avoid while Writing an Acknowledgment?
Acknowledgments are entirely personal, and there are no predefined rules for writing them. However, there are certain things you should avoid in your book’s acknowledgements section.
Here are the top three things to avoid –
- You should avoid thanking the readers. The thanks for readers is so general that no reader takes it as a compliment. You may do it if you are writing a self-book.
- When talking about a person, avoid getting too personal writing about the person. The reader may not be interested in knowing what you feel about them as a person or what names you call them.
- Avoid talking about the book in the acknowledgment. After finishing the book, many authors come to the acknowledgment section and, towards the end, start giving some information about the book. Avoid giving any information related to the book to readers.
Examples of Acknowledgments
In the book ‘The Leadership Manifesto’ the author Bill Hicks starts his acknowledgments off with a blanket acknowledgment of leaders everywhere before naming a handful of them by name.
Here is how he has maintained his professional language:
“The world is a better place thanks to people who want to develop and lead others. What makes it even better are people who share the gift of their time to mentor future leaders. Thank you to everyone who strives to grow and help others grow. It is the business version of The Lion King’s song, “Circle of Life.”
To all the individuals I have had the opportunity to lead, be led by, or watch their leadership from afar, I want to thank you for being the inspiration and foundation for The Leadership Manifesto.
Without the experiences and support from my peers and team at Ultimate Software, this book would not exist. You have given me the opportunity to lead a great group of individuals—to be a leader of great leaders is a blessed place to be. Thank you to Chad, Dan, Dave, Gretchen, JC, Laura, Patrick, Scott, and Susan.
Having an idea and turning it into a book is as hard as it sounds. The experience is both internally challenging and rewarding. I especially want to thank the individuals that helped make this happen. Complete thanks to Joanie, Randy Walton, Patrick O’Neill, Barbara Boyd, Carol Raphael, and Dan Bernitt.
Scott Scherr, thank you for being a leader I trust, honor, and respect. I will always welcome the chance to represent you. “Au Au Au!”
Robin Black’s acknowledgment for the book If I Loved You I Would Tell You This is particularly moving mainly because she has not slipped up on her rigor of composition. There is just as much care and precision in the acknowledgment as there is in the collection itself. Black’s thanks run to three total pages, which are ideal and in line with the story collection. She thanks her agent, editor, and publishers, then various institutions for their support, and finally individual readers, friends, and colleagues. Eventually, she thanks her mother, her children, and her husband.
From Just One Day by Gayle Forman, the acknowledgments are heartfelt and beautiful. The acknowledgments section is the perfect example of how it can be a profound note. The writer greatly appreciated her travel journeys in it. Here is how she is deeply thanking all the people in her life and journey:
“Thank you to all people I’ve met in my travels over the years- some of whom I kept in touch with, some of whom I put into this book, and some of whom have changed the trajectory of my life. Without you, I would not be here now, writing these words.”
When you design your entire book, make sure your acknowledgment matter is ready. There are thousands of ways to write and communicate your feelings through acknowledgment. The basic idea is not to miss the opportunity to thank everyone who has helped you.
Suppose you can implement the points discussed above. In that case, you will write an award-winning acknowledgment that will help your book overall.
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