A published book has many elements, including a preface, introduction, and book acknowledgements page. Many writers struggle to write their book acknowledgements, but it’s a straightforward process. Here’s a guide to getting yours right.
What Are Book Acknowledgements?
Simply put, the acknowledgements are the section where you acknowledge—or thank—everyone who had something to do with getting your book written and published. Even the most solitary writer relies on somebody, at some point, to help them get to the finish line of completing and publishing their book.
What Book Acknowledgements Do for Your Book
Book acknowledgements are your way to connect with readers and name the people who were instrumental in getting your book written. Think about the various people whose help got you there. Some are clear; for instance, if your spouse made sure you had quiet time to write and encouraged your efforts, that’s something you should mention. Did your boss give you a leave of absence to allow you to write the book? That’s another obvious acknowledgement.
However, think about less obvious sources of support. Did you do your writing in the quiet rooms of your local library? Did you fuel up on coffee from a favorite diner during those long days of writing? Did a discussion with a colleague spark your idea for a book? Those sources of support and inspiration were important to your ability to succeed. They might deserve a mention in your acknowledgements.
Do You Need Book Acknowledgements?
Some parts of a book are non-negotiable, like the title page and the copyright. Acknowledgements are not in the same category. Although most books have them, they’re not required in publishing.
So why include them? There are many good reasons.
Express your gratitude
You may be a single author, but completing your book is a project that involves many helpful people. The acknowledgement shows that you’re grateful for their help. It is a courteous way to put their names in print and point out their contribution to your success.
Inform your readers
Some authors are surprised to see that readers read acknowledgements. If you enjoy a book, you want to know more about the author, and the acknowledgements are usually where you learn about them. This helps readers feel like they know something about you as a person. In a nonfiction book, people read them to learn about any collaborations you had.
Show a softer side
Authors typically mention family members, friends, or people they come into daily contact with. This allows readers to get some idea of who the writer is as a person, friend, family member, or spouse. It’s a humanizing touch that most of your readers will appreciate and enjoy.
List the People You Need to Acknowledge
Think about everyone you want to acknowledge for their help and support during the process of writing your book. Always use their full names.
Start with a list of categories, and then put everyone you can think of from that category. Here are some typical categories of people you’ll see listed in acknowledgments.
- Spouse or partner
- Family members
- Research assistants
- Contributors to the content
- Financial supporters
- Research or other grants
- Writing communities
- Supportive university or research team
- Writing mentors
- Writing partners
- Illustrator or artist
- Book designer
- Marketing team
- Printing company
Be Sincere in Book Acknowledgements
When you write your acknowledgements, reflect on what these people did for you. You may be humbled by how supportive they were and how much you came to depend on that support. That sincerity will underlie the way you write about them.
When you write your book acknowledgements, you’re allowed to be personal. You don’t have to retain the tone of the rest of your book. You can adopt a personal, conversational tone. Show your softer side and your sense of humor. Even if you’ve written a serious book or a research-based nonfiction book, use this opportunity to show your human side.
Go Into Some Detail in Book Acknowledgements
Don’t turn your acknowledgements into a long, dry list of people and places. Add some detail and color. Explain how the support and help of the person or place you listed made your success possible.
For instance, instead of saying, “Thank you to my best friend Alice Engler,” you could write, “Thank you, Alice, best friend and biggest cheerleader throughout this long, tough process.” If you’re thanking an organization, you could say, “Thank you to the incredible team at Plants Unlimited, who were unstinting with their knowledge about poisonous plants.”
If you’re mentioning your publishing or editing team, you could say, “Thank you to my publishing crew, especially Beth Arina, my editor, Hank Haymin, my eagle-eyed proofreader, and my graphic artist Darcy Adams, whose illustrations made my vision for this book come alive.”
Make it specific, and make it human. Your readers will enjoy it, and the people you acknowledge will feel deeply appreciated.
Cite Specific Resources in Book Acknowledgements
If you’ve written a nonfiction book, people want to see your sources. You should have a complete reference section that lists all the books, interview sources, journals, historical documents, and other sources you used. Since you have a reference section, you don’t need to go into detail in the acknowledgments. Mention one or two key people or sources who you relied on the most.
Make Book Acknowledgements as Long as Necessary
Some editors recommend keeping the acknowledgements to one page. We recommend ignoring that advice. Your acknowledgements pages are your chances to shine, and they’re a chance for important people in your life to shine. Just as you use a personal, sincere writing style when you write them, you should also be unconstrained in your length. Some authors write acknowledgements that are only a few paragraphs long, while others write several pages. You don’t need to mention every person who crossed your path or turn your acknowledgements into a second volume of your book, but use whatever space you need.
Where Do You Put Your Book Acknowledgements?
Acknowledgements typically go at the front, even though most readers don’t read them until they’ve finished the book. In some publishing houses, the acknowledgements are published at the end of the book, which better reflects most reader preferences.
You can pick up any book off your shelf and read the acknowledgements. These are an excellent way to get inspiration for your own version. Read the acknowledgements from a variety of books, including nonfiction and fiction. You’ll see everything from straightforward, brief listings of people to heartfelt descriptions of support. Use these examples to guide your writing, but always remember to use your own voice.
What To Not Do
Leave the following out of your book acknowledgements:
- Overly personal information about your marriage or family relationships: That’s unnecessary and intrusive.
- Information about the book: Don’t use the acknowledgements to talk about the book itself. Information about the book should only be in the main body of the book, the preface, or the introduction.
- Thanks to your readers: Yes, you’re grateful to them, but thanking them all as a group dilutes the importance of your acknowledgements.
- In-jokes or nicknames that confuse readers: Don’t use the acknowledgements page to make jokes or use nicknames that only you and one or two people get. It’s confusing and could anger some readers. Save that for your private communications, not the pages of a printed book.
Use Your Book Acknowledgements Wisely
Every author had support along the way, and your book acknowledgements page is your chance to express your gratitude. If you’ve written a book that you want to see in print, contact the experts at Dazzle Printing.