How to Write the Acknowledgments Section of Your Book
After writing a whole book packed with interesting characters, fantastic worlds, and wild adventures, how is it possible that you’re now stuck on the acknowledgments section? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Writing acknowledgments is tough—some may even call it an art form in and of itself—because of what it represents and how it’s written and because it’s one of the first things a reader will see when they open your book, which definitely adds a bit of pressure. You want to thank the right people, express your gratitude, and show that it truly takes a village to publish a book while still making it engaging and interesting for the average reader. You want to sufficiently acknowledge everyone’s contributions, but you don’t want to go overboard. It’s hard to know who to include, and since the reader doesn’t know these people, making it engaging can be a challenge.
It can be an overwhelming task even if it’s just one page, and although we can’t write your acknowledgments for you, we can put together a book marketing package to make the next stage easier and give you a few tips on writing these very personal thank-yous.
Whom to thank
This is obviously a really personal choice, and it’s up to you, the author, to decide who should be recognized in this section. However, you want to keep it short—no longer than a single page and preferably no longer than one or two paragraphs—so we recommend only including the five to 10 most influential people without whom you couldn’t have published your book. Think about who’s had the strongest impact, not just from a practical perspective but also in terms of emotional support. From those who inspired you to those who helped with the actual process, this should be a powerful reminder of the importance of collaboration in the creative arts as well as a significant token of your appreciation.
Make a list of those who personally helped you through this process—your friends, family, mentors, and others who emotionally supported you while you were writing. Most authors include their family, particularly their spouse and children, sometimes parents, and maybe even their loyal pets. Think about those who lent a hand professionally—editors, agents, publishers, investors, and other colleagues who made your book possible and enabled you to turn it into a viable product.
There are probably too many people to list them all, but consider who helped you the most and who went above and beyond to support you. Finally, think of those who assisted you with the technical aspects of publishing your book—collaborators, beta readers, research assistants, and designers. Again, focus on the ones who provided the most substantial help, then cut down that list as much as possible.
Whom not to thank
Realistically, you can’t thank everyone who helped you in the acknowledgments section—there just isn’t space for it. If the list is too long, your readers will skip it and it’ll lose its power, so stick to those who had the most direct impact on your work. It won’t be easy to cut some people out, but you can always thank them personally, send them a thank-you note with a copy of your published book, and show your gratitude through private interactions. Most people probably don’t expect a formal acknowledgment anyway, so they likely won’t be hurt if you can’t include them.
This page is prime real estate in your book as it appears right after your title page and copyright page, so keep it as short as you can and arrange those you’re thanking in order of importance (most authors list their family at the top).
Explain how each person helped you
Expressing why you’re grateful to each person is a nice touch and necessary to make the acknowledgments page flow—you don’t want to just write a list of names—but doing so also adds to your word count, which is why you can’t thank every single person who helped you.
Be descriptive about the role each person had, what their support meant to you, and why they deserve recognition, but keep it concise, expressing as much as possible in as few words as you can. This is where your excellent communication skills come into play. You don’t want to give away personal details about anyone, but if you don’t have anything to add besides a generic "thank you," maybe you should reconsider if they really need a space in your acknowledgments section. On the other hand, don’t be corny or mushy—aim for direct and genuine. Going overboard and getting mushy will just make things awkward for the reader and probably the person being thanked.
Use your voice
You’re the only person who can write your acknowledgments, not only because you’re the only one who really knows who helped you turn your book from dream into reality but also because it should be written in your personal voice. It doesn’t have to match the voice you used in your book (although it can if you want), but it should reflect your personality and say something about your relationship with each of the people you’re thanking. Don’t be afraid to be yourself; be conversational and even vulnerable. What’s important is that it’s personable and genuine.
Including someone in your acknowledgments section is a beautiful gesture that person will surely treasure, so put some serious thought into writing it—don’t treat it as an afterthought. Make it engaging for the reader so they can understand the significance of these people’s assistance, too. Finally, don’t forget to have your acknowledgments proofread by a professional before publishing!