When you are writing a book, there are undoubtedly many people who have helped you along the way. A book dedication is a way to give them a formal thank you. It is only a few lines, but it is also an extremely important part of the book that is worth your attention. Here are some tips on how to write a book dedication.
What is a book dedication?
Book dedications are only a few lines in the front of the book that allows you to recognize someone who has inspired or supported you throughout the writing process. Often, an author will also include book acknowledgments in the back of the book. You might be wondering about the difference between a book dedication versus acknowledgement page and how you should write them.
There may be many people who helped you along your career to whom you want to give a special thanks. The main difference between dedications and an acknowledgment page is that the book dedication only has one or two people in mind. Acknowledgments can be long lists of people who have helped you throughout your literary career, and it can be up to a few pages in the back of the book. For the book dedication, you usually choose one person in mind who has helped you, a single group of people, or at the most, two people.
Book acknowledgments can be an extension of the dedications page. The book dedication page can be dedicated to someone close to you, such as a parent, parents, sibling, spouse, partner, mentor, or coach. It is usually someone close to you who has helped you in a special way that might not necessarily be related to the production of the book. Let’s see how to write a book dedication for your book.
6 Steps to Writing a Book Dedication
Writing a book dedication is an extremely personal process, but here are a few steps that you can use to get you on the right path. There is no right or wrong process for how to write a book a dedication. It is a heartfelt, permanent way to express your appreciation for someone special.
1. Brainstorm your list
The first step is to make a list of all the people to whom you would like to give thanks. You can probably think of quite a few immediately. Don’t worry, as more come to you, this list can be expanded.
2. Summarize their contributions
Next, summarize their contributions. Keep this summary to only a few sentences. For those that were of professional help, you should keep it professional. You can get more personal with others who are family members or close to your heart. This is a draft, and you can always cut it down later.
3. Narrow it down
The next part is the most difficult. Now, you must narrow down your list to only one or two people you want to give a special thanks to at the front of your book. Remember, you can include an acknowledgments page in the back of the book for the rest. Also, keep in mind that this is a private moment between you and someone in what will become an otherwise public work that will be potentially read by a large audience who does not know that person.
4. Write the final draft
Now, it is time to write your final draft that will be included in the book. It can be as short as a few sentences, or it can be as long as a paragraph. The main thing to keep in mind is to choose your words carefully, and try to think of how a stranger would see that person based on the words that you write.
5. Cut it down and edit
Now it is time to cut it down and do the final edit. Concise is always better, and make sure that your words convey the right meaning. This page will be an emotional experience for the one or two people you choose for your dedication. It is a lasting legacy to what they mean to you and what they meant to you in the writing process, so it is important to get it right.
6. Put it away for a time
When you are writing a dedication, it can be a highly emotional experience for you. It will be an emotional experience for the one who reads it, and it will give your readers a glimpse into your personality as an author. For that reason, it is a good idea to write it and then put it away for weeks or months until the book is complete. Then, pull it out and read it with fresh eyes before publishing it.
Famous book dedications
One way to get an idea of how to write dedications is to look at a few book dedication examples from famous authors. Reading a few book dedication quotes can help you get some ideas for your own self-publishing journey. Here are a few of our favorite examples that demonstrate a variety of styles and voices.
1. Neil Gaiman
In “Anansi Boys,” Neil Gaiman Neil Gaiman dedicates the book to his readers.
“You know how it is. You pick up a book, flip to the dedication, and find that, once again, the author has dedicated a book to someone else and not to you. Not this time. Because we haven’t yet met/have only a glancing acquaintance/are just crazy about each other/haven’t seen each other in much too long/are in some way related/will never meet, but will, I trust, despite that, always think fondly of each other!
This one’s for you.
With you know what, and you probably know why.”
2. E.E. Cummings
In E. E. Cummings’s self-published book of poetry, he included a “No Thanks” list in which he listed all 14 publishers who had turned him down. Thank goodness they turned him down because his works might not have been so successful. This approach is in line with his quirky personality.
3. C.S. Lewis
One of my favorites is the heartfelt dedication of C.S. Lewis to his godchild 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 some day 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,
C. S. Lewis”
Now you have a few ideas on how to write a book dedication to get you started. You also might need help on how to write a preface. Fortunately, we have you covered in this area, too. The next thing you need to do is to get started and make your self-publishing dreams come true this year.