Whether you have recently started writing your book or are close to publishing it, there is no wrong time to start thinking about your acknowledgement page.
We have brought together a few ideas and lessons based on our own experience writing High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder.
Make a (Contact) List and Check It (At Least) Twice!
You will meet many people in the course of writing your book. Not all will warrant a mention in the acknowledgements, but you don’t want to forget someone who contributed early in the process simply because they weren’t actively engaged at the end. Don’t rely on memory. Make—and maintain—a list. If it’s good enough for Santa...
It doesn’t matter how you keep track—on paper, on index cards, or in a Word document—but start recording everyone you encounter. You never know when you might need to contact that guy you met at the library, or the lady at the coffee shop who said she’d introduce you to her nephew at the radio station when you’d secured a publishing contract. Fran and I used a spreadsheet for our list. By the time our book was finished we’d collected close to two hundred names.
Record the person’s name, how and when you met, contact details (phone number, e-mail, social media links, mailing address). Add a few words about who they are and what role they have played—or might play—in your book’s development, promotion, or marketing.
How Do Other Authors Do It?
You can find sample acknowledgment pages online, but there’s no substitute for seeing how your favourite authors approach the task. Start with books you already own, especially those most relevant to your work. You can research other authors and titles at your local library, or online. Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature lets you browse without having to purchase the book, and the random sample often includes the acknowledgements. Make notes, so you can refer back later.
Front or Back? Where are the acknowledgements located? Most authors and publishers place them toward the front of the book, after the foreword and preface (if any), and before the introduction. Others place acknowledgements at the back, especially if they are rather long.
Length. There’s no need to count words, but does the author constrain the acknowledgements to one page? Two? More?
Categories. Authors generally group people together depending on the contribution they have made. The following categories are common, but are not always presented in the same order. What categories and order does the author use? Think about which are most relevant to you.
- Children, partner, parents, siblings, other family members.
- Beta readers, street team, researchers, editors, agent, publisher, illustrator.
- Friends, colleagues, teachers, tutors.
Names. Does the author use first names only, first name and surname, or a mixture of both? Are names listed alphabetically, and if so by first name or surname?
How We Wrote Our Acknowledgement Page
Fran and I began by setting some ground rules. An acknowledgement page is not a list of everyone you know, like, or are scared of offending by leaving them out. We agreed to only include people who had played a specific and significant role in our book’s journey, or in our lives whilst the book was being developed and written. We gave ourselves permission to make exceptions, and did so in a couple of cases, but having the rules helped keep us focused.
We reviewed every name in our contacts spreadsheet, flagging people yes/no/maybe for inclusion. We revised and refined our selection until we were happy with it. Our final acknowledgement page thanks eighty people individually by name.
We checked close to a dozen books in detail. We made notes on the length of the acknowledgements, the categories they author used, and how the author introduced each category. Having done that, we played around with categories which made most sense to us and the people we wanted to thank. We settled on three main categories: contributors to the book itself, our support team, and the wider community.
Contributors. People who contributed content; people who provided advance endorsements; readers, editors, publishers
Our Support Team. Fran’s professional support team, family, friends
The Wider Community. Our social media connections and supporters, mental health organisations and individuals
We added a fourth category for people who had inspired us, whether or not they had contributed directly.
We took our time allocating the people we wanted to thank to the various categories. This was mostly straightforward, but several people fit two or more groups: we placed these in the category which best represented their contribution. Within each group, we arranged people alphabetically by first name, to remove any hint of favouritism.
We introduced each category simply, with a variation on “We thank ...”
- We are grateful to ...
- We thank ...
- Special thanks are due to ...
- We acknowledge and thank ...
- We thank ...
After editing, our acknowledgements ran to one and a half pages. A little on the long side but we are happy that we recognised and thanked everyone we wanted to. As I wrote to Fran:
So many people have been with us on this journey—some since the beginning, others not so long. But so many believe in what we are about! Yesterday, you and I were going through the acknowledgement page.
There are far more people than we can ever list by name, but those we are able to include represent a wide spectrum of experience, knowledge and expertise—and they have all believed in us. That is awesome—and humbling.
We hope our ideas helps you craft the best acknowledgement page for your book: one which reflects your preferences and character, and honours those you most wish to recognise. Do you have suggestions and experiences of your own to share? We’d love to hear them!
If you haven’t bought our book yet, you can read our acknowledgements using Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature.