First-time authors (and even seasoned ones) come with a slew of questions when it comes to self-publishing their book. Oftentimes they’ve written a manuscript but aren’t sure what else they might need to prepare to get their book across the finish line. 

One example of this is the acknowledgment page. I recently had an author ask me how to go about writing their acknowledgments. They were unsure of who they should include or where to even begin and were petrified of leaving someone out on accident. 

Writing an acknowledgments page doesn’t need to be stressful. Let’s demystify this component of writing and publishing a book

low book sales

What Exactly is an Acknowledgments?

Likely you’ve seen an acknowledgment page before. It’s typically situated at the front or the end of the book and pays homage to the many individuals whose contribution helped bring the book to life. Think about it like your acceptance speech at the Oscars. Who are the people you would specifically thank for helping you win this award? It might not be every single person you’ve ever met in your life (though, it could be), but it would definitely be those special individuals who offered support, insight, or inspiration for this particular book. 

The way I see it, there are three distinct buckets of people you may want to include when writing an acknowledgements page:

Those who helped with the book: If it’s a non-fiction book this could include people you interviewed, those who contributed content, your editors, your literary agent, your publisher, anyone who helped with research of the book, etc. This is the section to thank anyone who offered professional help and feedback along the way and likely includes people you paid to help you (like a copy editor for example). Jot down anyone who gave up their time, resources and talent to make your book the most polished, professional finished product it could be.

Those who helped you with your work: Many authors also run organizations or companies related to the content of the book. This might include a CEO who has written about leadership or a non-profit founder who has written about the cause their organization works for. In these cases, it’s common for an author to thank those who have helped with the overall “mission” behind the book, which might include fellow employees, industry partners, activists or thought leaders working on similar issues. Again, it’s anyone you feel contributed to the themes or ideas behind the book. 

Those who helped you personally: Beyond the professional sphere you likely had people in your life who offered you words of encouragement, perhaps who picked up some of the slack at home so you could focus on writing, and who offered moral support. You can use this section as a gesture of appreciation and recognition for the people in your life- family, friends, mentors, and confidantes- who cheered you on, believed in you, and through their support played a monumental role in bringing your book to fruition. 

Obviously this is not an exhaustive list, and there are no “best practices” but it can be helpful when you go to formulate your acknowledgements to think about each of these categories and start jotting down the people who come to mind  for each one. 

The great part about writing an Acknowledgment is that you can be as exhaustive as you want to be. Some authors use this space to thank everyone who has ever been important to them, while some people might choose to be more selective. The choice is really yours. You may start by writing down every person who fits into the three categories above, and then begin whittling it down to the most important. 

It’s also always a good idea to thumb through some books you might already have on your shelf and read their acknowledgments page to get a feel for their style and flow. 

My final piece of advice is this: don’t overthink it. The only people who read the acknowledgements page are usually the ones who are in it, so while it can be an integral part of your book try not to stress about it too much. Use the method we outlined above and then trust your instincts as you craft a meaningful tribute to those who made your literary journey possible.

Share This