A book’s acknowledgements section is where you recognize and thank everyone who helped you with your book. It’s a way to display your appreciation to these people in a public and permanent forum.
Who Should You Thank?
This is entirely up to you. You should recognize whoever you feel contributed enough to your book and you feel they deserve it. Examples of common groups of people that authors thank include:
- Your family members (spouse, children, parents)
- Your friends
- Your editors, designers, project managers and other people who worked on the book production
- Your Publisher
- Your work colleagues
- Your book’s contributors, advisers and other sources of information
- Your teachers and mentors
- People you draw inspiration from
Do You Need One?
No. Most books do have them, but by no means are they required or mandatory.
How To Write Your Acknowledgments
Remember that people will read this
People will read this section and it will impact them—especially the people who are in them. This section is about those people you are naming, not about you, so approach this as you should your entire book: make it good for these people.
Start with a list of who will go in (by full name)
This method has worked well in many situations: write out all the people you want to thank before you start writing this section. Doing this allows you to see them all together in a list, and helps ensure that everyone is on the list who should be there.
Tip: a great way to make sure you are not missing anyone is to group people by categories so that you are more likely to remember them. When you put your family members together, you are less likely to leave any out.
Then go through the list again and ask yourself if it is necessary and important for you to have the specific name on the list. Feel free to strike out names as you work downwards through all the names.
Be specific for the important people
For the most important people, the more specific you can be in your thanks, the better.
For example, it is not specific enough for you to say: “I want to thank my husband, Patrick. Thank you.”
This is specific:
“I have to start by thanking my loving husband, Patrick. From reading early drafts to keeping me accountable to my outline, you were as committed to getting this book done as I was. Thank you so much, dear.”
Being specific in thanks is all about making them feel special. The more detailed you can be in your thanks, the more you’re showing that you recognized and appreciated their help. It is rewarding when someone thanks you for a particular thing you did, as opposed to just thanking you overall.
As you go further into your list, you can group people. But again, be specific in your thanks, even to groups. For example, this is not specific enough for you to say:
“Thanks to everyone on my publishing team.”
This is specific:
“Thanks to everyone on the CLC Kenya team who helped me so much. Special thanks to Muthoni Mercy, the ever encouraging Book Project Manager, and Adnah, my amazing editor, and Nicholas, the greatest cover designer I could ever imagine.”
Be sincere in your thanks
The worst thing you can do in this section is to say things you don’t believe. If you aren’t willing to be sincere, then you are better off not doing one at all. Sincerity means honestly and deeply thanking the people who helped you (mentioning the specific ways they helped, as noted above), and remembering the way that they sacrificed for you.
At the same time, don’t feel the need to go overboard. You’re not accepting an Emmy Awar, so don’t go on and on or say things just to make yourself look good. Make it meaningful and sincere.
Don’t worry about length
There is a lot of debate on how long or short this section should be. Don’t worry yourself with the length. Your part will be to make sure that you have thanked all the people you want to thank – if it turns out to be one page or three pages long, that’s all ok.
This is the only section I will tell you that you can go long if you want. You may only write one book in your life, and if that is the case then take all the time and space you need to thank everyone who helped you.
At CLC Kenya, we put this section in the first few pages of the book. Readers can skip this section if they are bored, but you can never go back and re-thank the people you left out because of some arbitrary “rule.” So take your time.
“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn