Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Million Thanks

Christmas is a time for saying thanks and showing our love and appreciation for family and friends. It is also that time of year when the gifts pour into the office from the people we've worked with during the year.

Admit it, we like gifts and we enjoy being thanked. We like to know that we are appreciated.

This brings me to book dedications. I see a lot of them in my line of work, and it seems there is a trend these days toward very long and drawn out dedications/acknowledgments.

I completely understand how an author wants to recognize the support of family and friends and to acknowledge help given by other authors and research sources, but. . .

Though your mailman may get a kick out of seeing his name in a book, does he really require a thanks for manhandling your manuscript? Or, really now, does your dog honestly need a dedication for time lost in walks while you wrote? Does your reader really care to weed through two pages of your dedication and acknowledgments that names all your relatives and critique buds? I have to think not.

I'm all for giving credit and thanks where it is due, but I tend to think these very lengthy accolades take away from the specialness of a book dedication. I'd like to encourage authors not to be too quick to praise everyone you know in your dedications. Instead, be very choosy about who you praise within short, concise wording. Then your readers will know that your dedication is something special and the person(s) is worthy of note.

I don't know how many readers have told me they skip all that front matter "junk," like forward notes, dedications, acknowledgments, and even prologues. So keep it short and memorable. By doing so, someone may actually read it. (big grin)


Julie Carobini said...

I've noticed that some of the authors I read regularly no longer have long dedications or acknowledgments...and I miss them! I guess I'm one of the strange ones who actually read those first (maybe I'm looking for my own name or something :)

Seriously, I do like them, but wondered if those in my own books were getting too long. So I recently opened up the newest bestseller from 'Famous Author' and read the longest acks I think I've ever seen. At first I thought, Oh. My. But then I went on to read Every. Word.

I agree that it's not necessary to thank everyone (sorry, mailman). It may even water down the sentiments a bit. On the other hand, those acks/deds tend to give a glimpse into the heart of the writer, so I'd hate to see them pared down too far.

Just my 2cents. Well, actually more like 4cents. Feel free to edit me, lol.

Mary Connealy said...

I've been wondering about dedications myself. I need to write out a really long one, the break it up and put a bit in each book. But that way everyone will get mentioned.
I admit I'm not putting a lot of thought into it yet.

Mary Connealy said...

By the way, I'm not a fruitcake fan, but the one on this post looked FANTASTIC.
I once had a homemade fruitcake that was a masterpiece and we devoured it. I've never had one that good since. Now I want to go buy one if I can find one that beautiful, but I KNOW IT'S A MISTAKE.

Karen said...

You're right, Mary! The fruitcake begs to be eaten.

I agree with you, Becky, and have the same philosophy when writing a Christmas letter. Short is better. I keep to one page, lots of pictures (gotta show the grandkids) and give them a reference to my website if they want to follow up on all the rest of the news.

Now back to editing that letter. . .

Anonymous said...

And I'm like Julie. I'm downright disappointed if there ISN'T a list of acknowledgements. I feel as though it connects me the author as a PERSON rather than just some obscure writer "out there" somewhere. But then, I'm also disappointed when I get a Christmas card...and that's all. I LIKE those long, newsy letters that let me catch up. When else do we communicate in this busy world? So call me a weirdo (it's happened before *grin*), but those're my feelings and I'm hainging on to them! lol

Kim S.

Becky said...

I don't like fruitcake either, but the colors in the pic appealed to me.

I like it when authors do a letter that can also stand in place of a boring bio. A letter to reader is a good connect to the author's personal side.

I've also read too many ded/acks that contain private or insider jokes. That's rather rude to the book reader, don't you think?

Rhonda said...

I agree Becky. Fruitcake no good. Long letter good.

Ded/ack well... I agree that the mailman and the dog don't really need ack/ded but a first time book author feels the pressure of not disappointing anyone, covering all the basis as far as thank yous go and I can honestly say, I think it's because you never know if your first book is your last book. Unless you have a multi-book contract. Then if you are lucky and get a second book contract but it isn't a multi-book contract, well there comes the old pressure again.

And honestly, I like reading ded/ack, even those long ones. But then again, I'm a talker so maybe that's part of it. :)

Becky said...

Could it be you like reading the long dedications because you are looking for names of authors you know? So for readers not in the author circles of writers conferences and such, these names are meaningless. Just a thought.

Rhonda said...

Great thought! and I am guilty of looking for names of authors I know and I'm also guilty of wanting to see who my friends ack in their ded and how they do it.

Laughing, I'm always studying the market I suppose even down to how to write a good dedication. So I'm glad you posted "as an editor" what you would like to see.

Thanks Becky.

Pam Hillman said...

New and aspiring authors see those long, rambling dedictions and think they're supposed to do the same thing. So, the trend feeds itself.

I'll just say...

I'd like to thank EVERYONE

when my time comes!

Jess said...

Ever tried white fruitcake? Yummy!

And I'm with Julie. I love dedications and acknowledgements. I was taught (100 years ago) to read the acknowlegements to learn who a favorite author's editor and/or agent is. But I also like to see who the author interviewed to get that book written. Guess I treat it like a learning experience since I also read a book with pen and yellow marker in hand. :)