Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Writing Acknowledgments

For most of my reading life, I’ve skipped over the Acknowledgments (or Acknowledgments, if you prefer) section in every book I read. (Dare I say, I barely acknowledged the acknowledgments? No! She didn’t!)

Now I read them all the time. What changed? I had to write my own and I wanted to see what other authors had done. Pretty soon I realized they can sometimes be more interesting than a list of names might suggest.

When I wrote the section for my first book, Fatal Brushstroke, I admit to being rather nervous. I was afraid I’d forget someone important or say something stupid name it, I probably thought it. The acknowledgments for my books are fairly short, but I try to make them somewhat interesting. I dedicated Fatal to my husband and wrote this in the acknowledgments: “Finally, a special thank you to my husband, Steve, who barely flinches at dinnertime discussions of poisons and other methods of murder and who always encourages me to follow my dreams.”

I’ve begun to think of acknowledgments as a conversation with the reader. So in my latest book, Designed For Haunting, I added an explanation for why I dedicated my book to libraries and librarians: “I’ve dedicated this book to libraries and librarians because of everything they’ve given to me over the years, for all the worlds they’ve introduced me to, real and imagined. Without them, I would not have discovered many wonderful books and authors or learned so many interesting things.”

That’s the fabulous cover you see here. It’ll be out Oct 9th, available for pre-order July 18th-ish.

Okay, back to acknowledgments. They seem to come in all sizes, long, short and sometimes they don’t even exist. Anything’s fair game, I think. Now that I know a fair number of people in the mystery world, it’s fun for me to see their names in the acknowledgments of other’s books. I even, once or twice, found my name there! That pleased me to no end.

I’ve even gotten a chuckle out of some of the things author’s say. Ellen Byron, in Body on the Bayou thanked her local Target stores. “I do some of my best thinking aimlessly wandering those jam-packed aisles.”

Acknowledgments can also be educational. If you’re looking for an agent, one of the things you can do is check the acknowledgments for books that are similar to your own and see the name of the author’s agent. Agents, editors, etc. are usually acknowledged. No guarantee they’ll become your agent, but at least it’s a place to start. Before you look, you’ll find my editors acknowledged but no agent because, well, I don’t have one of those. But if I did, I’d certainly thank them!

Those are my musings on writing acknowledgments. Now I have to hunker down and come up with ideas for my next book. I have an inkling of an idea, but I still have a long way to go. Perhaps one of those muses Rick was talking about in his post yesterday will help me out...


Ellen Byron said...

Awesome! And I LOVE the cover!

Sybil Johnson said...

Thanks, Ellen! It's my favorite cover so far, I think.