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What Should I Say in My Acknowledgments?

Some authors struggle with what to write in their Acknowledgments. Others know exactly what they want to say and how. If you find yourself in the former group and want a quick starting point for writing yours, here’s a brief summary for you.

Essentially, you want to create a list of those “without whom this book would not have come into existence.” It’s common to acknowledge friends who encouraged your research and writing, clients who inspired your specific subject, mentors and idols who set your thoughts aflight, beta readers who helped to improve the book with their feedback, and individuals specifically involved in the production of the book (namely editors, designers and publishers).

The simplest way to do that is to group people together based on the role they played in relation to the book and allow those specific individuals who played a more significant role to have a line or two of their own.

As for the tone, we like the advice of a friend over at Greenleaf:

Overall, the best way to write an acknowledgment is to make it personal, professionally casual, and descriptive (ie: don’t simply say “Thanks to my editor, Gil.” Tell us why Gil rocked.).

As for length, 1-2 pages is great. Any more and it can become too unfocused and rambling. A reader will lose interest quickly. But oftentimes what a reader is looking for in an Acknowledgment is whether they know anyone named in it, and why that person’s contribution mattered to you.

The best suggestion we can give you is to pick a few titles off your bookshelf and peruse the Acknowledgments there. See what resonates with you in terms of tone, style and length, and then endeavor to create your own version of it.

And if you’re still wondering if it’s really worth it, consider this:

Gratitude is contagious …and… No one succeeds alone.

Use your acknowledgments to give your readers a brief insight into who you are, what you value, and to remind them why they like you.

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