Are you looking to write an acknowledgments page for your book?
If you've never written a page like this before, it might seem overwhelming. Who should you thank? What tone should you take?
Here's how to write an acknowledgments page:
- Where do acknowledgments go in a book?
- What do you write in acknowledgments?
- Step 1 – Start with the most important people
- Step 2 – Don't leave anyone out
- Step 3 – Be funny if it's appropriate
- Step 4 – Include in-jokes and references
- Step 5 – Write in your own voice
Where does the acknowledgment page go in a book?
You'll most often find the acknowledgments page of the book in its front matter section. It's normally one or two pages long and follows the title page and the legal information.
Sometimes, acknowledgments are placed in the back matter of the book instead. If you're not sure which option you prefer, check out books that use both options. See which you think looks better and would be a suitable fit for your book.
How do you write an acknowledgment page?
Your book's acknowledgments section is exactly what it sounds like – a place to give recognition and thanks to people who helped make your book possible.
This is a special opportunity to give thanks in a way that will last far into the future. There’s something really special about being about to thank the people that matter to you in such a public way.
There's no need to overcomplicate your acknowledgments. Just make sure they are heartfelt.
Now that the basic concept of an acknowledgments page is clear, let's drill down into some tips.
1. Start with the most important people
When giving people recognition on your acknowledgments page, make sure you start with the most important people at the top!
Typically, writers tend to thank their spouses, families, and editors. Sometimes, the editor comes first. It’s hard to overstate just how important a good editor is, so it’s understandable they are acknowledged so prominently.
It makes sense that you would want to put particular people at the top. After all, if your spouse sees they are listed lower than the guy who brings your latte (although thank God for him), they might not be too pleased.
Don't take this too far. You don't need to methodically rank each person you want to give a shout-out to. Just make sure they are thanked in roughly priority order.
How do you acknowledge a book editor?
Yes, your editor is important enough to warrant their own set of tips on how to acknowledge them!
To acknowledge your book editor, follow these simple tips:
- Your history. If you and your editor go back some time, here is the place to let the world know. Get a bit nostalgic with your writing and share how you met your editor and some of the memories you have with them.
- Self-deprecation. It's almost a tradition to put yourself down a bit here and give your editor a lot of credit. Don't be sarcastic about this. Instead, make your words sincere and let your editor know how much they mean to you. Maybe reference one of your common writing flaws that they are always able to correct.
- Something personal. Think about what would touch your editor the most. A serious acknowledgment? A humorous one? Make sure the way you acknowledge your editor is something they would personally appreciate.
2. Don’t leave anyone out!
There's no need to keep your acknowledgments page short and sweet. After all, if it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a city to write a book!
If anything, go the other way. Thank anyone and everyone you can think of. There's no harm in doing this whatsoever.
It doesn't matter if your acknowledgments page runs long because anyone who isn't interested can easily skip past it.
If you’re not sure who exactly should make the list, these are some types of people who are often acknowledged:
- Family. It's likely your family have put up with a lot while you were writing your book. Perhaps you were extra stressed out and spent long hours away from them. Your acknowledgments page is the perfect place to show them how much you care. Also, be sure to shout-out your distant relatives to give them the thrill of being part of your project.
- Friends. Now is the time to give your buddies some props. Think about old friends who have been there for you over the years as well as your contemporary social circle. When it comes to acknowledging friends, it is a case of the more the merrier.
- Collaborators. You probably had a whole lot of help when putting together your book. Make sure to think about every last collaborator and give them due recognition here.
- Other authors. If there are authors you admire, why not let them know here? It not only gives your readers insight into your reading tastes but also offers the chance of making a new connection with a writer you would love to work with.
- Sources of inspiration. No matter what inspired you while you were writing, make it known. These could be famous artists of other disciplines, even a physical location like a country or city. You can even go quirky and acknowledge your favorite brand of beverage. There are no rules.
- Institutions. Acknowledging the institutions and organizations that have helped you out over the years is important. Give some love to your schools, colleges, charities, and any other organization you want to give recognition to and hopefully send some new folks their way.
- Launch Team members. Maybe you don't know the full list of launch team members yet when you're writing the acknowledgments page, but calling out a handful of folks you know will be supporting you, then thanking the team at large is usually a good way to go. Your launch team, promo sites, anyone who is helping you market your book are good to mention here.
This list is by no means exhaustive. Anyone and anything is fair game for your acknowledgments page.
3. Be funny if it’s appropriate
Some of the best acknowledgments pages draw upon humor to enhance the way their readability.
Of course, this isn't always going to be appropriate. If you've written a depressing memoir, for example, jokes might not be the best choice.
But for most types of book, they are fine. They not only make it more enjoyable for the people you acknowledge but also add to the experience for the reader.
Usually, acknowledgments pages are pretty dry from a reader's perspective. But if they can see your sense of humor in action they will enjoy them a lot more.
4. Include in-jokes and references
Although any form of acknowledgment is better than nothing, there are better and worse types.
The most basic, bland acknowledgment possible is simply saying something like “thanks to my amazing editor Ernest for being there for me”. This is fairly unimaginative.
It's a lot better to go for an acknowledgments page that is a bit more personalized.
For example, you could go in a different direction from the bland acknowledgment shown above, instead saying something like “Ernest, I want to thank you for your patient editing, dealing with my stroppiness, and most importantly for pizza night! Next time we'll skip the hot sauce!”.
What the heck does the hot sauce refer to? Your reader doesn’t know, but Ernest sure does.
Personalized references and in-jokes show the people you are thanking that you've thought about what you want to say. You're not just ticking a box – you're offering them a personalized and memorable form of thanks.
5. Write in your own voice
Throughout the rest of your book, you probably had to write in a voice that isn't exactly how you talk in real life.
Your acknowledgments page is the one time you get to show your reader the real you. What kind of language do you use? What kind of tone do you take? What's your style of writing as opposed to the style you adopted for your book?
Write your acknowledgments in the first person to enhance their feeling of intimacy.
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