This topic came up in the Forum recently, and I’m curious how The Readers At Large are thinking on the subject.
What do we think about thanking the Academy? Do you like acknowledgment sections? Feel they’re self-indulgent? Touching? Do you notice? Not notice?
If you’re reading in a feed reader or via e-mail, click through for the fancy dancy poll:
I like the acknowledgments sections. It provides so much information for the reader, and for the writer. When I find a book I really love, hopefully the author has thanked their agent, and then I have a frame of reference.
Plus, I would like to think that someday I will get the chance to publicly name all the people that helped me along the way.
The Frisky Virgin says
I love to read the acknowledgments. Though the writer does the writing, the people around you provide the support. Heck, they deserve a Super Bowl trophy.
February Grace says
I think it's always nice to say thank you…but I agree- at the end for fiction please (for non-fiction acknowledgements seem to make more sense to me at the beginning, however) and if they cue the orchestra while you're thanking your Pekinese then you know you've gone on too long.
LOVE THEM! But I like to learn about the author. And I think it is sweet.
Meagan Spooner says
I second the notion that the acknowledgments page is not for the readers, it's for the author and everyone around the author who contributed. I feel bad for folks who believe that books are the product of a writer sitting in a room alone–maybe writing is that way for them, but I wouldn't trade my experience for the world. Tons of people help me write, whether it's just by being my cheerleaders or actually getting their hands dirty reading or critiquing. I can't imagine sitting along in a room with no outside input and producing a beautiful piece of art.
But that aside, I do believe the acknowledgments are valuable tools for aspiring writers. They're sometimes funny, inspirational, and usually quite helpful. Authors will thank their agents and editors, which helps new writers start to recognize these names and think about the people they might want representing their own work.
I've always enjoyed the acknowledgments. It make the author seem more real, more human to me. And if they can attain success, being a regular 'ol schmoe like me, that means I've got a shot, too.
Waste of a tree!
Ishta Mercurio says
I like them, for the most part. I like being able to find out who agented and edited a book, and I also like that there is an avenue for authors to publicly acknowledge all the help they get (because we all know that whole "solitary soul click-clacking away and single-handedly turning out a masterpiece" cliche is a lie.
I stop reading when they foray into "and thanks to my favorite band, MuscleJuice, whose music inspired me, and to CreamyCrunch, for the ice cream that carried me through my deadlines…" etc. territory, though. Friends, family, professionals, real people who knew they were helping you, fine; random things/people/places you like? I don't care.
Ishta Mercurio says
Sorry, that should have been, "for making the ice cream that carried me through my deadlines…"
You get the idea.
Girl Friday says
I like them and always read them (but then again, I've just started working in publishing, so I'm interested to see who is the author's agent/editor etc)
They're a letdown when they're just a list of names, but I don't complain about the copyright page, which doesn't get in my way even though it's boring, too.
What's unfortunate is when an author thanks his wife, then gets divorced.
CFD Trade says
Showing gratitude is not a question but a must.
I'm reminded of a reader-letter I once read that had been sent to 'The Vancouver Sun' newspaper.
A young lady named Angela Yeanor had been writing a somewhat trashy 'Sex And The City' type article for The Sun, and this very stuffy reader had sent in a letter of complaint.
"Every Saturday morning," he began, "I make myself a cup of coffee… I make some toast, and I take my copy of The Saturday Review and I go and sit in the alcove off my kitchen… I work hard all week long, and look forward to this ritual. Angela Yeanor's column has no business existing side by side with all the other columns in your magnificent Saturday Review section of the paper. She is a disgrace to the newspaper."
Okay, so three words then.
Don't… read… it.
And quite frankly, I would say the same about quotations.
If a novelist decides, for whatever reason, to commence a novel with a quotation, and you, as the reader, for whatever reason, think that this is a sloppy or a lazy thing to do, then, again, three words…
It's so simple not to read something. All you have to do is exercise a few eyeball muscles. Honestly, the individual who runs this blog would do well to spend a little more time exercising his eyeball muscles and a little less time hitting that big red delete button which he has clearly had installed on his desk.
I love the acknowledgments section.
For me, I get valuable insights to who is friends with who, who is whose agent etc.
I also find it interesting what grants authors had, etc.
david elzey says
when i'm watching old movies, and the opening credits take lass than two minutes and there's no end credits telling me who the caterers and teamsters were, i am reminded how we have become somewhat obsessed with this idea that everyone deserves mention.
while it's a boon for writers to glean editors and agents names, or maybe catch a friend's name among the list, i don't find that acknowledgments help me appreciate the book any more than the dedications or the LOC info. given that authors have more opportunities to thank people publicly (blogs, websites, etc) i'm not inclined to feel they need to be in the book anymore.
but clearly, according to the poll, i am way outnumbered in this regard.
In fiction that bases its characters on real people as the personae model it seems fair and honorable to give the background contributors a nod. Other than that just the spouse and current psychiatrist should be the limit.
I voted Enhh.
K. M. Walton says
Genuine gratitude is always good no matter what. Thanking the people who helped you should be a human standard.
The acknowledgments page isn't for the reader so it shouldn't matter where it is placed — the page is for the writer, it's the writer's forum, and it belongs in every book.
Sometimes acknowledgments are fun to read, especially for a novel when the author is thanking different experts who contributed. It makes me feel like they really did their research.
I love reading them. I love hearing about all the people that came together to make a book happen.
Barbara Martin says
I like reading Acknowledgments as they provide an insight into the writer and how they relate to those who assisted them on their writing and publishing.
I happen to like acknowledgments sections, but I think you have a biased audience here. I prefer ones that have some humour or storytelling to them. Lists of names don't really appeal, but then let's face it, they're not really there for my benefit, they're there for the people that contributed.
I agree with Anonymous at 7:35pm. If you don't like them, don't read them. I don't like quotations, so I always skip them.
Zee Monodee says
I think no writer is an island – we all have people who in some way or another help us when we're writing and getting a book out. Acknowledgements strike me as gratitude expressed – to me it means the writer knows that the relationship structure in her/his life is important too.
I know we shouldn't expect thanks for everything we do, but if you're the person who helped, you do enjoy feeling a little validated when someone out and out says thanks for your help.
Personally, I like the ones that have a little explanation with them (like someone mentioned as: to so-so who kept my sanity intact with mallomars throughout the journey that was writing this book).
It's a nice little personal touch. In a time when we expect our writers to be people as well as writers, this does contribute.
I think acknowledgments are fun. In middle grade and YA novels, I use them to play a kind of six degrees of seperation…"Oh, I know that name. She's in the same critique group with the friend of a writer I know." In books for grown ups, I'm far less likely to know anyone so they're less fun.
CMR Prindle says
I agree with others, cheekychook and Anima for instance, that it's just right to acknowledge the people who helped you. And, as Zee Monodee said, no writer is an island. Even if you do most of the working and figuring out on your own, most writers do have an agent and an editor at the very least. If you've been really reclusive, you might want to even thank your friends for being willing to talk to you six months after you shut them all out (or, you know, my friends after I've shut them out since, yeah, that's me). Basically, I'm a firm believer in giving honor where honor is due. I have every intention of thanking some of the e-groups that helped bolster my writing confidence and critiqued my early work because I really wouldn't be where I am, even now, without them.
The Red Angel says
I like reading Acknowledgements, and it doesn't really matter to me if they're in the back or front. I think it's a great idea to thank everybody who helped the writer succeed and help out with making the book happen.
When I love a book, I read EVERYTHING in it, so I like the acknowledgments. They're a little bit like a high school graduation speech or an Oscar award winner speech. I guess the best surprise bits of a book I ever read were in Eggers' A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, even the copyright information page.
K.L. Brady says
I think acknowledgement sections are more for the people who get thanked than they are for the people who thank them or read them. Personally, I feel like there are so many people who helped me on my journey, what better way than to have that "acknowledged" in every copy of a book I see. Those thank you's will live on forever, for generations. They work for me.
Robyn Campbell says
I like them and can't wait to have the opportunity to do some. It's a feel good thing. =)
I like them! Think about how hard it is to get a story to that stage, how many hurdles one had to jump to get there. If it's self-indulgent, damn it, it's well-deserved. Besides, I like knowing who his/her agent is.
And I can't imagine not thanking the people at home that put up with me locking myself away on a regular basis to write something that may or may not go anywhere some day.
I think it's nice to acknowledge in print the people who helped you get that very book out. If an author wants to thank people privately, it's certainly their prerogative. The reader has the ultimate choice to read or skip the acknowledgments.
Personally, I'm way more offended by typos and printing errors.
Malia Sutton says
I voted "like" but I think it's an interesting topic for another reason.
In the past, when books were released in print, it took months, or years, to get them released, from conception to the day they hit the bookstore. Our only real contact with the author, for person info, was the acknowledgment page and bio page.
But now, what I've been seeing with author friends, is that there's so much online info about them already, from blog posts to their author web sites to the social networks, the acknowledgment page doesn't seem as significant as it did before we had all this info at our fingertips.
I know a few writers who are still doing it, and I love reading these pages, but it might be one of those things that starts to disappear as e-books grow in the mainstream. Particularly in genre fiction. With some authors putting out a new release every six weeks its more efficient to just list a web site for personal info than to write an acknowledgment page.
Lisa Yarde says
Definitely like. No one gets to be published without having the help of others. It's nice to see authors acknowledge those who've helped make their dream a reality. I always read acknowledgments and dedications in any book.
Becky Levine says
Love them, and have ever since I was a kid. Maybe because I knew I wanted to be a writer even then, and I felt like it brought me closer to the person behind the words?
As a reader I didn't pay too much attention to them. As a writer they are VERY important. People who are involved on your journey to publication like to receive acknowledgment. I have heard many people who were slighted on the acknowledgments. They feel jilted. If they are a part of your work you should give them credit. AND always thank the readers who read your stories on every publication. They keep our dream alive.
Brian Naslund says
I like them because they offer some insight into who the author is, but also because they often mention who their agent is, and I always like knowing that!
Sheila Deeth says
I ignore them at the beginning of a book – I just want to read. At the end I might look for the agent, or just enjoy finding out a bit more about the writer.
I read the acknowlegements, as it gives me a clue about the author and the people that helped them along the way. I do agree I'd rather see them in the back in lieu of the front.
Agree about Eggers' Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. By far, that book has the best set of "extra" pages. I believe he acknowledged that Pluto was a planet if I remember correctly.
I quite enjoy reading the acknowledgements as long as they're not pages long. I think the best ones are where the author thanks people who helped them write the book, or who gave them inspiration.
Andrew E. Kaufman says
I always enjoy reading them. As an author, I'm interested in seeing who helped them get to that point in their life, their struggles and ups and downs. I also like hearing with whom they did their research.
Each time I revise my book, the acknowledgements section changes until now. It doesn't exist.
One time it read, "To the one who knows" which just about includes everyone from my dead cat to my fifth-grade teacher.
Normally, the acknowledgement section gets only a glancing read-through by me unless I am very impressed by the book, then I may go back and read it again. Maybe they would be best at the end of the book.
I voted "yes" because it is nice to connect on that level with the author at times. Although, sometimes they do get carried away.
Balance in all things includes acknowledging others.
Although I religiously read your blog, I rarely take time to comment. This time, though, I have to weigh in. Of all the pages in a book, the ones I NEVER skip are the acknowledgments. I want to know who played a role in getting the book to print. Did the author work alone, or were there many many people involved? What were their roles? If an acknowledgment is properly written (and I have a definite idea of what "proper" is), it gives me a clue as to who that writer is and how s/he works, and I feel more inclined to follow him/her on to the next book. They matter–and they should ALWAYS come at the end, in my opinion.
Marta Wendy says
Sometimes I read the acknowledgments. If the author keeps them short.
If the acknowledgments take up 2 pages, I don't even look at them.
I've always liked them at the end. They give you great insight and many times the writer takes you through the journey they had as they worked on the book. I've been mentioned in Acknowlegments before and it's pretty cool.
I always love reading the acknowledgments. It gives the reader a little glimpse into what- who- brought them the book they just read, and that's always fun, at the very least, for me to see.
I think with so much work going into some books, it was REALLY necessary for the writer to acknowledge that she does not know everything about every thing, and someone helped her incorporate certain places, subjects, or persons into her story seamlessly.
But in many books, I think it is just another section to pat the shoulders of the whiny people in the writer's life who complain "you haven't thanked ME yet! Remember, I make you sandwiches! And I taught my parakeet to say your NAME!"
Acknowledgments to me should be creative, touching if appropriate and most of all short and sweet. Thanking every single person you ever talked to about your novel before its publication, to me, makes the thanks less important. That being said, if I'm not interested in what or who is being thanked, I skip it. I can always go back if there is someone I want to remember mentioned there.
Stephen Prosapio says
Whoever started the trend to put them at the end was aa genius. I typically skipped them at the begining or skimmed them. When they're at the end it's almost as though the novel is extended just a peek.
I'll always put mine at the end.
I always read acknowledgments. It's like applauding the people who helped. It's also a thrill to be in them, as happened for me recently.
Kathryn Paterson says
I love acknowledgments pages. It's really strange, but I actually read them first to get a sense of who the author is as a person. Sometimes that influences the way I read the novel, and sometimes it actually makes me a more patient reader for that person's work.
For my own work, I had to consult with several psychiatrists and medical professionals to get a good understanding of my two main characters. If this work ever gets into print, you better believe I'm going to thank at least the main psychiatrist I spoke with. It wouldn't be proper not to.