When you write a book, one of the most important decisions you make is what to put in the dedication; after all, this is the section where you get to thank all the people who have helped you along the way. But it can be tricky to know who to include and how much space to give them. This blog post will walk you through the process of how to write a book dedication. Plus, we’ll give you some tips on formatting your dedication page. Let’s get started!
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What is a book dedication?
A book dedication is a brief statement from the author, thanking or honoring someone important in their life. A dedication can be as simple as “To my parents” or a more personal statement about how that person has impacted the author’s life. In some cases, an author may dedicate their book to multiple people.
Dedications are usually found on the dedication page, which is typically located on the book’s frontispiece (the page with the author’s name and title). The medication may also be included on the copyright page, which is usually on one of the book’s first few pages.
Not all books have dedications, but for those that do, it’s a unique way for the author to show appreciation for someone who has made a difference in their life.
To who do authors dedicate their books?
More often than not, authors dedicate their books to people who have supported their writing journeys—such as family members and friends. Sometimes, an author may dedicate their book to someone who has inspired them, such as a teacher or mentor. Here are some examples of dedications from famous books:
- “To my father and mother” —Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
- “For Ishmael” —Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
- “To Ellen Bunting” —Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
- “For Fritz Perls” —Richard Bandler and John Grinder, The Structure of Magic I
- “In memory of Margaret Laurence whose tenderness towards others was equaled only by her unceasing courage before even her fears.” —Alice Munro, Lives of Girls and Women
As you can see from these examples, an author’s dedication can be very personal and specific to their relationship with the person they’re dedicating to their book. Sometimes, an author may even dedicate their book to multiple people.
How to write a book dedication: five essential parts
A book dedication is a way for an author to show appreciation for someone who has supported them through their writing journey. It is also a way to make the reader feel closer to the author and the story. So, what are the five essential parts of a book dedication?
1. The recipient’s name
This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless. The person you dedicate your book to deserves to have their name front and center in the dedication! After all, this is all about them.
2. A meaningful quote
A quote can be from your book, another author, or even a song or movie. It captures the essence of your relationship with the recipient and why you are dedicating your book to them.
3. A touching story
A short story about your relationship with the recipient or how they inspired your writing will help personalize the dedication and make it even more special.
4. Your sincerest thanks
Be sure to express gratitude for all they have done for you. This is your chance to let them know how much you appreciate them!
5. Your signature
Last but not least, don’t forget to sign your name at the bottom. This will make the dedication even more personal and intimate.
How to write a book dedication: five benefits of writing one
The dedication usually appears on the first page or two of the book. You might think that dedication is not essential, but writing one has several benefits.
A dedication can help you remember why you wrote the book in the first place.
The process of writing a book can be long and difficult. There will be days when you want to give up and question why you started writing in the first place. When you have a dedicated reader in mind, it can help you push through those tough times. Knowing that someone is waiting for your book to be finished will help motivate you to keep going.
A dedication can make your book more personal.
When you write a dedication, it makes your book more personal for both you and your reader. It shows that this book was written with someone specific in mind and is not just a generic work of fiction. If your reader knows that they are part of why this book exists, they will be more likely to identify with it on a personal level.
Dedication can show your appreciation for someone.
Dedicating your book to someone supportive of your writing career is a way of showing appreciation for their help. This is especially important if you dedicate the book to someone instrumental in publishing it. Acknowledging their role in your success is a thoughtful way to thank you.
Dedication can create rapport with your reader.
When done correctly, dedication can create rapport with your reader from the very beginning of the book. If you dedicate your book to someone who shares similar interests with your target audience, they will be likelier to pick up your book and try it. For example, if you were writing a self-help book on relationships and dedicated it to your best friend who just got married, single women in their 30s who are looking for love might be more likely to read it because they can relate to the person you dedicated it to.
Dedication can add meaning to your work.
Dedication can add meaning to your work by honoring someone important in your life or helping you build rapport with potential readers. By writing a few sentences dedicating your work to someone special, you can make an impactful statement before anyone has even started reading your book!
How to write a book dedication: ten helpful tips
Now that you know why writing a book dedication is beneficial, here are ten tips to help you write an effective one.
1. Be specific
When writing your dedication, it is essential to be specific. This means taking the time to think about who you want to dedicate your book to and why. A dedication should not just be a list of names—it should be thoughtful and full of meaning.
For example, let’s say you are writing a cookbook. You might want to dedicate it to your mother, who taught you how to cook, or your children, who are your biggest fans.
You could even dedicate it to someone who has never tasted your food but always believed in your dream of becoming a professional chef. Whoever you choose to dedicate your book, make sure you take the time to explain why they are unique to you and why you are dedicating your book to them.
2. Keep it short
Once you decide to whom you want to dedicate your book, it is time to write the dedication. When doing so, it is essential to keep it short. A dedication should only be a few sentences long—just enough to express your gratitude and appreciation without going on and on. After all, this is just one small part of your overall book!
3. Use meaningful language
This is your opportunity to really say what’s in your heart, so don’t hold back! Use language that is meaningful and personal to you, whether it’s serious or lighthearted. Your reader will appreciate the sentiments regardless of what tone you take. Just make sure that whatever you write comes from a place of sincerity.
4. Consider alternate forms
One of the first things you should do when thinking about how to dedicate your book is to consider whether you want to go the traditional route with a single dedication or try something different.
Suppose you have more than one person you want to show appreciation for. In that case, you could consider dedicating different sections of your book instead of—or in addition to—a standard dedication page. This could be especially effective if your book is divided into sections anyway.
Another option is to include multiple dedications throughout the text of your book instead of grouping them all on one page. Whatever form you choose for your dedication, make sure it feels true to you and fits well with the rest of your book.
5. Make it personal
Dedication is much more than just a list of names—it’s an opportunity to express why these people are essential to you and what role they’ve played in your life or work.
When writing your dedication, mention specific instances or memories that will help readers understand why these people are so unique to you. If you’re dedicating your book to multiple people, try to find something unique about each relationship that you can mention.
For example, if you’re writing a memoir about your experience as a mother, you might dedicate each chapter to one of your children and write about how their personalities have shaped your life.
6. Be appropriate
Remember that anyone who reads your book will see your dedication, so make sure it is appropriate for all audiences. This means avoiding profanity, slurs, and other offensive language. You’ll also want to avoid anything construed as insensitive, such as making light of serious topics like addiction or mental illness.
If there’s anything remotely controversial in your dedication, err on caution and leave it out. The last thing you want is for someone who reads and enjoys your book to be discouraged by an inappropriate dedication.
7. Don’t be too sentimental
When writing your dedication, it’s important to strike the right tone. You don’t want to be too sappy or sentimental, as this can be cheesy or insincere. At the same time, you also don’t want to be too cold or clinical. Find a balance between the two extremes, and you’ll be sure to craft a dedication that resonates with readers.
8. Don’t give away spoilers
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many dedications give away key plot points or major twists. If you dedicated your book to “the real-life inspiration for my protagonist, who was tragically killed in a car accident halfway through the novel,” well… you can see how that might spoil things for readers. Stick to generalities like “my parents, who always believed in me” or “my best friend, who heard all my crazy ideas and never once told me to grow up.”
9. Don’t forget the title
When writing your dedication, include the title of your book somewhere. This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to do this! Including the title helps ground your dedication and gives readers some context for what they’re about to read.
Before you publish your book, it’s essential to have someone else read over your work—including your dedication! Typos happen to everyone, but it would be incredibly embarrassing if there were mistakes in such a short section of text. Ask a friend or family member to proofread your dedication (and the rest of your book) before you hit “publish” so that you can catch any errors that may have slipped through the cracks.
How to write a book dedication: five common mistakes
The dedication might be short and sweet, or it might be long and detailed. It might be funny or sincere. Whatever the case, dedication is an excellent way to show appreciation for those who have helped you along the way. That being said, there are certain mistakes that are commonly made when writing book dedications.
1. Not making it personal enough
One of the most common mistakes authors makes when writing dedications are not making them personal enough. Dedication should be just that—dedicated to someone special in your life. Avoid generic dedications such as “To my readers” or “To everyone who has ever loved a good book.” Be specific! Who has helped you on your journey as an author? Who has been there for you through thick and thin? Those are the people who deserve dedication.
2. Forgetting to say thank you
Part of making your dedication personal is showing gratitude for the support you’ve received from the person (or people) to whom you’re dedicating your book. Make sure to express your thanks for your dedication! Whether it’s simply “Thank you for your support” or a more detailed explanation of how much their help has meant to you, take the time to say thank you. It will mean a lot to them and show that you truly appreciate their efforts on your behalf.
3. Going overboard with the thanks
While expressing your gratitude for your dedication is important, it’s also important not to go overboard with the thanks. A little goes a long way, so try not to fill up your entire dedication with expressions of thanks. Instead, focus on making the rest of your dedication just as personal and heartfelt.
4. Writing a novel-length dedication
A book dedication doesn’t need to be lengthy to be effective. Many of the most memorable dedications are short and sweet! So don’t feel you need to write an entire novel to show how much you appreciate someone’s support—a few well-chosen words will suffice perfectly.
5. Not proofreading your work
Last but not least, make sure to proofread your dedication before including it in your book! A mistake here could completely change the meaning of what you’re trying to say, so it’s essential to take the time to double-check your work before finalizing anything. If possible, have someone else read over your dedication as well—a fresh set of eyes can spot mistakes you might have missed yourself.
Frequently asked questions
Here are some frequently asked questions related to how to write a book dedication!
What is a book acknowledgments page?
The acknowledgments page is a list of people the author would like to thank for their help in writing the book. This could be anyone from the author’s editor to their spouse to their dog walker. Anyone who played even a tiny role in helping the author brings their book to life can be thanked on this page.
While it may seem small, taking the time to list out everyone who helped you write your book shows that you are grateful for their assistance and that you value their contributions. In today’s world, where people are constantly bombarded with requests for their time and attention, acknowledging someone’s help can go a long way in building lasting relationships.
Another reason to pay attention to your acknowledgments page is that it can be used as a marketing tool. By including shout-outs to influencers or other well-known people in your field, you can pique the interest of potential readers and get them interested in your book.
Are dedications and acknowledgments different?
A dedication is a brief message from the author, typically found at the beginning of a book, that is addressed to a specific person or group. Dedications are usually quite personal and often reveal something about the author’s relationship with the recipient. For example, an author might dedicate their book “To my parents, who have always believed in me.” This type of dedication conveys both gratitude and admiration.
While dedications are often addressed to friends or family members, they don’t have to be; an author might also dedicate their work “To the city of New York” or even “To all the books that have inspired me over the years.” Ultimately, it’s up to the author to decide to who or what they would like to dedicate their work.
On the other hand, an acknowledgment is typically found at the end of a book and is less personal than a dedication. An acknowledgment is simply a statement from the author expressing gratitude for the help and support they received during the writing process.
For example, an author might acknowledge their editor for helping to make their book as strong as it could be or their partner for being understanding during late nights spent hunched over the computer. Unlike dedications, acknowledgments are not typically addressed to any specific individual; instead, they generally express gratitude to a group of people (such as “the team at my publishing house”) or to all those who helped with the making of the book.
Do you need a book proofreader?
Your book is your baby, and you know it inside and out. But that also means you’re likely to gloss over typos and small errors that could be easily fixed. A fresh set of eyes is always helpful when spotting errors, inconsistencies, and plot holes.
A proofreader will also help you catch grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. While some tremendous grammar-checking tools exist (like Grammarly), they can’t catch everything—especially if English isn’t your first language. A human proofreader can quickly identify and fix any minor errors that might have slipped past you.
One more thing to keep in mind: even if you think your book is perfect, chances are that there’s always room for improvement—and a proofreader can help you find those areas so that you can make your work even stronger.
How much does a proofreader cost?
The cost of hiring a professional proofreader will vary depending on the length of your manuscript, the turnaround time you’re looking for, and the services they offer. On average, though, you can expect to pay between $0.007 and $0.01 per word—so if your book is 80,000 words long, you’ll be looking at a bill of around $560. Not too bad!
A book dedication is a beautiful way to show appreciation for someone special in your life or make a personal statement that will be remembered forever. When choosing who to dedicate your book too, think about who has made the most significant impact on your life or who inspires you the most. Regarding what to write, think about what would mean the most to them. With these tips in mind, we’re sure you’ll be able to create a perfect dedication for your next book!