blogger: Cynthia Ruchti
What are among a writer’s most potent words? Which ones will have an impact beyond what a writer can imagine?
Some might guess it’s the exquisite words: THE END.
But it’s actually the words that come after The End that hold unexpected impact. And no, the words aren’t, “Get me coffee!” or “I need a nap!”
There’s a reason for this image…and it’s more than an insatiable appetite for spring. The tiny but eye-catching flowers are forget-me-nots. They’re symbolic of the answer to an author’s startled, “Wait a minute! I have to create an Acknowledgements *page for the book? I don’t know where to start.”
It’s your forget-them-not page. And it matters.
Does anyone read a writer’s most potent words–the Acknowledgements* page?
More than you’d guess. Yes, many skip over anything that doesn’t seem like part of “the story.” But an Acknowledgments page often is part of the story.
Have you sat through the opening frames of a movie’s end credits and been amazed to discover the film was based on a true story? The credits at the end of “Schindler’s List,” for example, are among the most powerful moments in the entire production.
Sometimes a book’s Acknowledgments page reveals a surprising connection to a true story . . . or the rest of the story. It often gives clues to the author’s personal connection to the fiction or nonfiction project. The Acknowledgments reveal so much more than, “I’d like to thank the Academy . . .”
Who reads the Acknowledgments? The curious. People who may have helped contribute to your book in some way–critique partners, research sources, your spouse, new writers who want to know what goes on the Acknowledgments page.
And your editors. A freelance editor, in-house editor, copy-editor, proofreader (or multiples of the above) may all have taken a careful look at it, sentence by sentence, word by word, letter by letter. They will notice who was mentioned as having had a role in the book’s birth.
Who is mentioned in a book’s Acknowledgments?
The choice is the author’s. But no book is published without the input of others.
- Your editor(s). Imagine how it can build and strengthen your relationship with your editor if you mention his or her contribution, which is likely significant.
- Your publisher. (See reason for mentioning your editor.)
- Organizations or individuals who have helped you on your writing journey.
- Individuals, businesses, or groups that help provide research details.
- Your family. (It’s a rare family that hasn’t had to make adjustments so a writer can write.)
- Your agent. Our books may not have gotten past the proposal stage without our agent’s help and the agency’s reputation. You might be surprised to know how much it means to an agent to see a brief but sincere expression of gratitude in our books. I have inside information that it means a lot.
What else is accomplished when you write those potent words–your expressions of gratitude?
Other authors pick up on the connection between books they enjoyed and the editors, publishing houses, and agents involved in bringing it to life. Your gratitude may help direct another author to a positive publishing experience, to a great freelance editor, or to a literary agent or agency that invests well in its authors.
Other authors take note of what makes an Acknowledgments page sound sincere, heartfelt, or fun as opposed to the flat, canned-sounding “I’d like to thank the Academy.” More on this point in an upcoming blog post, tentatively titled “I’d like to thank the Academy.”
Those who sacrificed to help you reach your publishing goal with the book are moved to see that you not only noticed their efforts but made your gratefulness public.
You–the author–redirect your thoughts in a positive way, balancing your elation over what you’ve accomplished with humility and gratitude over all the people who gave you the opportunity, cheered you on, sacrificed their time, paved the way, and had your back.
Writing the Acknowledgments for your book may seem like a tiresome assignment. But it doesn’t have to be. It’s a time of reflection and an opportunity to encourage those who have encouraged you.
* A dear friend pointed out that I misspelled Acknowledgements. So I looked it up. First dictionary definition spelled it as I had it. But, that’s the NON-US spelling! It just so happened I wrote this blog post while in Europe. So, I corrected it, but left the first two as a reminder of my trip to Europe and in recognition of all our international readers. 🙂
To credit all who earned my thanks
I’d need a bloody tome,
for those who taught me all ’bout banks,
and those who write of Rome.
The early victims who read the tosh
that I thought was ‘writing’
helped it over the transom-slosh
and made it more inviting.
I can’t express the gratitude
of them what refined my art
and advised that female pulchritude
was not the place to start.
Without their loving, generous aid,
there ain’t no way that I’d get paid.
Beautifully creative, Andrew!
This is great, Andrew. And so true. We probably all have people who help us along the way.
Mary Kay Moody
Way to share the thanks, Andrew! You even stumped my computer’s thesaurus.
I always enjoy reading the Acknowledgements page in a book. It’s fun to see who contributed in some way to a story, especially the stories I love.
I’ve got a list of people who have helped in some way with my story. If/When I get to write an Acknowledgements page, I’ll have direction for getting started. My list is long as of now. Because it’s true, no writer truly writes alone.
Glad you’re preparing ahead!
A great post, Cynthia–welcome and thoughtful, on so many levels, for the arrival of our spring! Love the illustrations and it would be an honor, should I get published, to put in my agent’s name. Thank you! (p.s.–neat, Andrew!)
Looking forward to reading it, Patricia.
Damon J. Gray
Spot-on Cynthia. As I browse the bookstore, the first four things I check are 1) The author bio (if I don’t know them), 2) the back-matter, 3) the Table of Contents, and 4) the Dedication and Acknowledgments.
Damon, that is so good to know! A discerning reader, for sure.
I love reading the acknowledgements page of every novel I hold in my hands. It’s sweet to gain insight into the writer’s heart and their world.
The writer’s heart and their world! Yes!
Mary Kay Moody
Thanks, Cynthia, for this encouraging post. I enjoy reading the Acknowledgments page ~ always learn new tidbits about the business, resources, and the author’s heart and views.
I keep a list, but fear I don’t update it enough. Memory over the years is so unreliable. I’ve been encouraged by so many, I also fear my page may be too long! A bounty of blessings. Happy Spring!
“I’ve been encouraged by so many, I also fear my page may be too long!” The comfort is that if we live lives of encouragement, when we give a general thanks to those who have accompanied us on our journey, they will know we mean them!
I’m such a nerd, but your post gave me permission to confess that I ALWAYS read the acknowledgment page, and sometimes before I read the book. I love getting a snippet of the writer’s journey. I love seeing who and how many people poured into the book in someway, to meet the cheering section that helped the author get to “The End.”
Karen, you make a good point. In some ways, it’s like meeting the “family” of the story.
We wish to thank you just as before for the lovely ideas you gave
Jesse when preparing her own post-graduate research plus, most importantly, regarding providing every one of
the ideas in one blog post. In case we had known of your site a year ago, we might
have been rescued from the unnecessary measures we were implementing.
Thank you very much.
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