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I actually really like reading acknowledgements, and only rarely find them TMI and/or creepy. Although admittedly I haven't often run into an acknowledgements section that went on for more than a page. And I'm always excited to see my own name on someone's acknowledgements page -- but you're right, that excitement isn't my primary motivation to do the things they're acknowledging me for.

In general I think a touch of humour is a better approach to the Acks page than a slathering of schmaltz. ;^)

Elizabeth Fama

For me, reading acknowledgments feels like listening to someone else recount a dream. Only the dreamer finds his story engrossing. Only politeness makes me stay.

George Ernsberger

I'm sort of fogeyish about this--I find them embarrassing, mostly. Still, I understand the impulse and have no doubt mine would have grown and grown as yours did if I'd ever got started. So, okay, but set 'em in, like, 8-point type and put 'em back beyond backmatter. BUT for no reason I can quite get hold of, they seem especially inappropriate in a book for young readers, so I'm especially glad for your outcome.


I like being in acknowledgments as a copyeditor (oh the vanity) and I like reading them (with or without my name), but for purely voyeuristic reasons.

I hate to see acknowledgments before I read the text though. They should be in the back matter.

Jan Freeman

Isn't there a basic difference between acknowledgments for a work of fiction (like your book) vs. a nonfiction work? Often NF authors owe thanks to fellow scholars for very specific kinds of help, and the details are often interesting in themselves. I also have enough literary friends to enjoy the gossip angle in the thank-yous -- though I too can OD if there's too much gushing about "the generous loan of their villa in Tuscany" and such.
And sometimes (sad but true) one's friends are better and more diligent editors than the actual paid editor. They really deserve those credits, and bored bystanders are free to just turn the page.

Carol Saller

Jan, you're right--the scholars I copyedit are often obliged to acknowledge granting bodies, copyright holders of previously published chapters, and the like. But you'd be surprised at how often (and how far) they wander off task.


I can tell a first-time author from a seasoned one by the length of their acknowledgments. Newbies ramble on for pages, thanking everyone they've ever met; they also thank their pets. Authors with a book or two under their belts stick to one paragraph.

If I have the chance to advise authors on acknowledgments, I tell them to just name names and perhaps specify each person's relationship to them (wife, friend, agent). Skip describing specifically what each person did. Include those details in a handwritten thank-you note to the individual instead.

And I agree with Fangsandclause: acknowledgments are better off in the back matter, if only because readers shouldn't have to wade through too much detritus to get to the book's main content.

Patricia Boyd

I like 'em. Not pages and pages, but a page's worth, I find interesting in a nosy sort of way. Especially when I've finished a good book and I'm not yet ready to say good-bye to the author.

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