What You Need to Know About Writing a Book Dedication
When you flip through the first few pages of a book, you might have noticed a page with a short acknowledgement note. This is known as a book dedication. It is usually featured on the dedication page, which is at the very beginning of the book. It comes right after the Title page. A book dedication is a way for authors to bestow a high honour on a person (or small group of people) they want to praise or otherwise spotlight. Simply put, it is a statement that conveys to the reader for whom the author has written a book. If you’re on the verge of publishing your book, you might want to consider adding a book dedication. It will convey your gratitude towards the person/s you would most like to dedicate your work to. It is also a more personalised way of attracting readers. So, here are some information and tips that you might find useful while writing your book dedication-
Why and to whom should you write a dedication?
A book dedication is written to express gratitude. Who inspired you to write your book? Who supported you throughout your writing journey? Once you’ve figured this out, writing your dedication will be easier as you’d want to express thanks to them. Or you could, as some authors do, dedicate your book to the memory of a loved one or to a cause or idea. Imagine how special they’ll feel when they read your dedication. Most often, writers use the acknowledgements to thank family and friends who provide feedback and suggestions.
You can therefore write your dedication to-
- Family members
- Close friends
- People impacted by your book or featured in it
- The readers of your book
- Inspirational or supportive figures in your life
How you can format a book dedication
The book dedication appears at the beginning of the book, after the title page and the copyright page. The idea is to feature it before the index and body text. Further, if you include an epigraph in your book, the dedication typically appears on the right-hand page just before this. Most dedications are aligned to the centre on the top half of the page. Your dedication can even be in italics. This is a popular choice.
The various types of book dedications
You can get creative with your book dedication. Feel free to combine different styles. Just ensure that it is short and impactful. Here are some examples you can follow-
- Poetic dedications
You could fashion your dedication into a short poem. For instance, consider Alice Walker’s dedication of The Colour Purple, which reads:
TO THE SPIRIT:
Without whose assistance
Neither this book
Would have been
- Named dedications
You can choose to explicitly name the person or people you’re dedicating your book to. For example, Marcia Brown dedicates her famous children’s book, Stone Soup, very simply:
TO MY MOTHER AND FATHER
However, as an author, you should make a few important considerations while naming the person you’re dedicating your book to. Keep in mind that the person you dedicate your book to may not want to be named. Thus, it is best to consult them before you decide to mention their name in your dedication.
- Anonymous dedications
In order to avoid mentioning names, you can choose to keep the identity of your “dedicatee” private; i.e you can anonymize the dedication. Take a cue from Roxanne Gay, whose memoir Hunger is dedicated as follows:
for you, my sunshine, showing me
what I no longer need and finding the
way to my warm
- In memoriam dedications
Some writers dedicate their book to the memory of a loved one. You can do the same if you wish to honour the memory of somebody close to you. Daniel Kahneman, the winner of the Nobel prize in economics, dedicates his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, this way:
In memory of Amos Tversky
- Group dedications or dedications to a cause
If you’re writing a book that is inspired by a group of people with a shared identity or experience, you can address your dedication to them.
Joshua Wong’s Unfree Speech, The Threat to Global Democracy and Why We Must Act, Now, is dedicated:
For those who have lost their freedom
fighting for Hong Kong
While writing your book dedication, you need to consider why you began writing this book in the first place. Next, determine who or what inspired you and encouraged you to continue writing. It could be your relationship with a family member or your sports team which inspired you to write. Just remember to check with your dedicatee if they’re okay with being mentioned. Your book dedication could go a long way in appreciating someone’s efforts to help you become an author.