A book dedication is a way for you, the author to bestow a high honor on a person (or a group of people) you wish to praise or otherwise spotlight. This dedication note is often short and usually focused on one person (or a specific group of people). It’s supposed to be personal, rather than professional. It goes on the dedication page, which is in the very front of the book, after the title page.
So, Who Can You Dedicate Your Book To?
Anyone you like really. Below are the categories of people that are common focuses of a book dedication:
- Your family members (spouse, children, siblings, parents)
- Your close friends
- People impacted by the book or featured in it
- The readers of your book
- Inspirational or supportive figures in your life
- People you wish to highlight in some way
Is A Book Dedication Compulsory?
No. Most authors dedicate their books, but it’s not required or mandatory.
Tips on How to Dedicate Your Book
Filter Who The Focus Will Be
You can start by thinking about the people to whom you want to dedicate this work. Make a list of several people or groups of people.
The next step is to filter them on the basis of who is the most important person on that list? The seminal influence? The people you care the most about?
Many authors dedicate their books to a spouse, or to a child or to a friend who’s impacted their creative process. There’s no specific formula. This should be short and sweet, and there are no wrong answers. You are expressing a personal sentiment, so only you can decide what that sentiment should be. Therefore, you should not worry too much about the dedication page. Anyone you leave out can be thanked in the Acknowledgments (which comes a few pages into the book).
Think About How Your Readers Will Be Impacted By These Few Lines
As the dedication is at the beginning of a book, many of the readers will read it and be influenced by it. Think not just about the person or people named in the book dedication, but also about all of the readers who will pass by this page and be impacted. Make a conscious choice about what you want that impact to be.
And yes, though everyone will see it, no one but the person you mention will remember it. Want proof? Name your favorite book dedication. Chances are you can’t name one.
Make It Short and Precise
This page should be short and to the point. You should not mention everyone who contributed to the book’s creation because that’s what the acknowledgments is for (if you want).
Look At Others Authors’ Examples
The easiest way to get examples of books’ dedication is to pick up any book on your shelf and look at the selection. Almost every book has a dedication, so you can find endless examples.
Most of them as very basic and simple, something like this:
For my husband Patrick, and children Makena, Amani and Imara.
Others can carry a complex message like this:
To Patrick, who helped me cease from ineffective to effective work!
This concise line holds enormous depth for both the readers and the person mentioned. If you’ve read the book “Too Busy to Be Effective” you’d know that the entire book is about effective work. In this dedication, Patrick clearly played a big role in the creation of this book (it’s also an inside joke for fans).
Here’s the dedication that C. S. Lewis wrote to his goddaughter in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe:
My dear Lucy,
I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result, you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather,
This book was listed as one of TIME Magazine’s Top 100 Novels ever written, and yet he wrote it for his goddaughter. This dedication gives real substance to the book, and the author before you even dive in.
Just Write Your Book Dedication
The number one thing to keep in mind is that there is not a specific formula for this. The dedication is one of the most personal sections in the book, and it’s up to you to decide how you want to use it.
What’s inside of your book is more important, and getting it out into the world is the MOST important thing.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives only one.” – George R.R. Martin