Nathan Bransford, Author


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Can I Get a Ruling: How Do We Feel About Acknowledgments Sections?

This topic came up in the Forum recently, and I'm curious how The Readers At Large are thinking on the subject.

What do we think about thanking the Academy? Do you like acknowledgment sections? Feel they're self-indulgent? Touching? Do you notice? Not notice?

If you're reading in a feed reader or via e-mail, click through for the fancy dancy poll:







154 comments:

Word Lily said...

I like reading Acknowledgments in a book, but I only like them at the end. If they're placed at the beginning of a book, I quite dislike them.

Hannah said...

As a reader, I usually don't notice them unless they're particularly interesting or well-written, but I think it's nice to have them there. I prefer it if they say who people are and why they're thanking them (like: to John Smith, who vigilantly kept the flying monkeys from eating this manuscript) rather than just a list of names.

ria said...

I like them. They make the author human.

Peter Dudley said...

Word Lily's got a great point. I hadn't realized I felt this way until I read it in the comments.

Ariel Swan said...

I always read them now - before I was a writer I didn't usually - but now I love them - often I read them first. The acknowledgements give me a glimpse into the writer's journey and often offer the name of an agent - which is helpful when I love the book and feel it is in my genre.

Andrea said...

I also prefer them at the end, but otherwise don't mind them. Everyone deserves to get their thanks in. There are always people around that contribute to your book in some way while you're writing.

Like, I got the title of my book from a friend during a night of drunk conversation. I'd thank that guy.

Ed Marrow said...

I like them. I look in them to find out who the author's agent is. Generally, the agents are thanked in the first sentence or so.

Also, it is a nice way, as ria said, to humanize the writer. We can see a little bit of who they are outside the story.

Elie said...

I was amazed to read how many people had helped and been involved in the writing of one particular book (YA historical fantasy).
My own experience of writing is quite solitary, and I research & work stuff out on my own (with the help of blogs like this and SCBWI) - so those acknowledgements revealed a different world. Interesting.

Kathryn Packer Roberts said...

I would personally do acknowledgments just to publicly thank everyone who worked so hard with me. I think they need recognition, too. I don't usually read other peoples', however, unless I really really admire the author or know them personally.

Becca said...

They're okay, depending on how they're done. As a writer, it's definitely a plus to look and see who helped them along. But I like when they're humorous, and I like when they're at the end. When they're at the beginning, I feel like they take away from the book itself.

Sarah W said...

Helping\editing\supporting\living with a writer isn't easy and it's nice when that's acknowledged. It makes the author seem like a nice person.

'Course, I also like 'em because I've been mentioned in one or two (for research and beta reading). The next best thing to having your name on a book is to have your name in one!

Anonymous said...

I think they may be a necessary evil. They thank the people who helped. Others read them so they know who helped who. If I remember correctly,your agent and editor want very much to be mentioned.

But like Word Lily, I'm for this happening at the back of the book too.

sooper said...

I like it because I like knowing about the author and this gives a glimpse into who they are. Plus, it's a good way to search agents.

Lauren Elizabeth Morrill (Mona Mour) said...

I always read the acknowledgment page, though that may be because I'm an author ... I like to see if the author spoke to experts or did research or had a really great editor.

some chick said...

To reiterate what others have said - I like them at the back. They make more sense there, after you have finished reading the book. So much support from others and research go into books that it's a matter of courtesy to publicly thank those who have helped the book come into being.

Anonymous said...

When I come to the end of a book that has totally captured me, I'm always looking for more, and I'll read whatever's availabe: Acknowledgments, author info, ISBN. I appreciate an Acknowledgments that offers readers a glimpse into the author's process.

Reesha said...

I hate them. Just get me to the story!

Though when my own book gets published, I'm going to be so grateful to everyone who helped of COURSE I'm going to have an acknowledgments section.

So, I guess I don't like them but I can see why they're important.

And my dad was once mentioned in someone else's acknowledgment page, and he always talks about it.
It totally made his day.

So I'm trying my best to not be so hard on acknowledgment pages.

Alii Silverwing said...

I like 'em, but I also prefer them at the end. At that point I've already seen how much work went into the book and I am appropriately grateful to the fantastic people.

Or, alternatively, I know who to blame when the book went off the rails. *teases*

I would also much prefer intros at the end, honestly, because most of them contain crap that shapes how I think about a book and are completely unnecessary. Especially 'famous people' intros to republished editions where they gush about themes and events and I have no idea what's going on. If the intro or acknowledgements are smarmy or drippingly grateful, that colors my experience negatively.

Lexi said...

Boring unless my name is in there.

(What? What? It's the truth...)

Polenth said...

I can't remember the last time I read one, but I figure they're not really for me anyway. It's a way to thank the people who've helped the author, which is a nice thing to do, even if I'm not going to read it.

The whole of the rest of the book is for me. I'm not going to complain because the author wanted to take a page to thank people.

Carole said...

I read every single one of them if I like the book. Someday I hope to be able to craft one.

Erica75 said...

Until I started writing, I never paid a bit of attention. "Thanks to Mom and God" maybe stood out on the page, but I would never have read anything longer. In fact, I still don't, unless it's a writer I really want to know more about or if it's a book I'm using as a comp and wonder if they list their agent.

I agree with Polenth - they're mainly for the author and really shouldn't bother anyone else. Just skip it if you want.

Bethany said...

I like Acknowledgements. I started reading them to see who the author relied on and why. And I also read them to see who the author's agent is to see if I recognize the name or not (because if I don't, then I know that's someone to research).

I loved Christie Craig's acknowledgements for her new book, "Shut Up And Kiss Me" it was written in the same style as her book...very witty, very conversational and made me laugh out loud. I know Christie in person so I was able to sit there and say "Yep, that is very much like her." So when the author's personality comes out the acknowledgements it makes it fun.

MommyJ said...

I don't mind them. I think they need to be there for the author's sake. They've worked hard to get their book published, they need to be able to acknowledge who has helped them along the way. And now that I really think about it, I think I agree with ria. It does make them seem human.

Dick Margulis said...

People, people. Let's make some categorical distinctions here. In MOST fiction, acknowledgments should be absent or brief or, as others have suggested, at the end. Get the agent and acquisitions editor in there, dedicate the book to your long-suffering spouse and children, and then get on with the show.

For a few categories of fiction (well-researched historical fiction, for example) and most categories of nonfiction, though, I think acknowledgments are de rigueur [stupid spell checker!].

Think of them like the credit roll at the end of a movie. YOU may not care who the key grip's third assistant is, but she needs her name there so she can put the film on her résumé. Whether her mother, her husband, or her banker cares is none of our business. Book acknowledgments work the same way. I can't hold up a book I edited or designed and claim credit for it if I'm not listed in the acknowledgments.

Acknowledgments are an important lubricant for a significant part of the book production industry. If you're not interested, don't read them.

Stu Pitt said...

If a book does poorly but somehow merits another printing, Acknowledgments should be changed to Blame.

Melissa Gill said...

I read acknowledgments they way I read the credits after a movie. If I really want to know who so and so was... But most of the time I skip it. As long as their at the end it's fine by me. No one's forcing me to read them.

It can be quite interesting to get a little peek at the author that way though.

D.G. Hudson said...

I don't mind Acknowledgments but they should be brief. I like the idea of having all extraneous pages at the end of the book so that it doesn't slow down the reader. If they're too long, no one will read them, except those mentioned.

I think it fulfills a need to thank those who may have helped, and that's the author's prerogative, isn't it? But brief and and at the end would be my preference.

Mira said...

I think it's fine and appropriate that an author thank anyone who helped with a book. Of course! It's not fair to leave out someone who helped out.

As a reader, I think they are great fun. I love skimming them and looking for little tidbits of drama.

I also have great fun planning my own acknowledgement sections, which are at least 50 pages long now, and include the air that I breathe and the sunshine that wakes me up in the morning.

As for whether they go at the front or the back, doesn't matter to me. I skip them, and come back to read them after I finished the book anyway.

Debbie said...

I've always read Acknowledgements. I just find it interesting to see how much goes into making something, anything. But I stay and watch all the credits at a movie. And watch all the 'behind the scenes' extras on DVDs.

Of course, now I also look at the Acknowledgements to see who the agent was--just in case.

Oh, and I don't care if they're at the beginning or the end, I read them first anyway.

Emily White said...

I love them. For one, it's made an aspiring writer's job much easier. If I'm reading a book with a similar style to my own, I just look in the acknowledgments to see who the agent was. I now have another agent to add to my list who I might not have had otherwise.

And really, I don't care where it's located. No one's forcing me to read it whether it's in the front OR the back.

cheekychook said...

I like the acknowledgment section and actually feel a little let down if there isn't one. Placing them at the beginning of the book seems appropriate---the book would likely not be in existence without the people being thanked---their help preceded the publication, so their thanks should precede the reading material.

Just because it's at the beginning of the book doesn't mean it has to be read before the book is read---it's not essential to the plot, it's just in its proper, respectful place. I often go back and reread the acknowledgments after I'm done with the book---the people who are acknowledged frequently take on greater significance then because writers often thank specific people who impacted particular aspects of the story development or writing process.

Basically I like hearing people thank the other people who have shaped their life---it's why I always listen to the acceptance speeches at the Academy Awards (and why I get annoyed when the band starts playing to cut someone off at a poignant part of their overwhelmed babbling). I guess I'm just a sap!

Mina Witteman said...

For reasons unknown to me - and I am not only a published writer, but also an editor - the Dutch like to keep up the myth of the hermit writer, locked up in his residence, contemplating, researching and typing away his days. Of course, that writer does everything himself. God forbid that the reader find out he had help! It would shatter dreams, I guess, but I am not sure who's dreams.
Would it shatter dreams?
No, I would love to be able to thank all the people that helped me out during my thinking process, with my research, with keeping me sane. It is what keeps a writer writing and it makes stories better stories.
So yes, a wholehearted YES!
But... at the end, please, as an acknowledgment should not influence the reader's experience or distract him from what the book is about: the story.

Alice said...

As long as they are thanking everyone under the sun, they should thank ME for reading it.

I do usually read them. Sometimes before, sometimes after. It's not like I remember them though.

Krista V. said...

Like several others have mentioned, I always scour the acknowledgments page for the name of the author's agent, especially if I liked the book and/or the book is similar in tone to one I'm working on. It's always nice to be able to mention an agent's client's work by name in the personalization of your query.

Nick said...

I ignore them as I find them to be a somewhat pointless endeavour. Honestly if someone owes so deep a debt to someone for in some way aiding in getting that book written, they could take the time and have the decency to do more than write a quatrain.

Steve Masover said...

I don't always read them, but if there's something intriguing about the book's topic or setting acknowledgments are a way of discovering something about how the author came to know her/his subject. I was interested in Ian McEwan's acknowledgments for Saturday, for example ... how did he get to know some much about brain surgery? Also I like to read them if I think I might know someone who is thanked, the friend-of-a-friend thing.

WordLily got it right about placement: end of book, please.

Theresa Munroe said...

I like them, at the end. It's sort of like movie credits. None of us work alone, especially if we get published. At least, from what I hear, having no personal experience with that part yet.

Anima said...

An expression of gratitude should not annoy or bother you, especially when you aren't forced to read it. It's about love and civility. I'm a big fan of both.

Toby Speed said...

I love them. I have medical and law enforcement people helping me, a historian, a pilot, and someone who knows about building construction in the early part of the century. I wouldn't dream of publishing my book without publicly thanking them.

Kyle said...

I ALWAYS read them... They're part of the book!

Robin Constantine said...

Like 'em. Placed anywhere. It's like peeking behind the curtain a bit and getting a glimpse at the author's creative process.

Also a really great way to find names of editors and agents!

Kellye Parish said...

I love Acknowledgements and Dedications. Especially dedications. The idea of an entire artificial world being conceived and dedicated to one special reader just sends my heart a-flutter.

Ganz-1 said...

Don't really think much about it. If it's there I'd read it if I feel like it.

Suzan Harden said...

This is my ego talking, but yes, I like it when my crit partners publicly acknowledge my help. Like the time I spent my Winter Solstice/Christmas week proofing the ms for one person in particular who had a Jan. 2 deadline. The bottle of wine she gave me was nice too.

Joseph L. Selby said...

I like the idea of them, but few authors seem to write them the way I would find interesting. I love reading Diana Gabaldon's acknowledgements. Look at all the people and all the time necessary to make this work. That's cool.

Lately it just seems like "here's my agent because and here's my editor because and here are my friends because". I always thought of the acknowledgements as the "above and beyond" category and was thrilled the time an author included me in it. To be included because I was involved in the process and did my job diminishes the relevance of the section.

I seem to be in the minority in that opinion. You linked previously to a post on the necessity of including one's agent and editor (and assistants of both) in the acknowledgements. The fact that it's a necessity is what makes me uncomfortable. It turns a reward into an expectation.

Ellen Painter Dollar said...

I love reading them (gives me insight into how other writers do their thing), and writing them is fun. If I'm really struggling with writing the actual book, I'll sometimes take a few minutes to write a sentence or two of acknowlegments instead; it's a way of boosting my confidence and reminding me that, though writing is a solitary activity, I'm not in it alone.

As someone else said, I like reading acknowledgments that say what the author is thanking people for (instead of a simple list of names). But once I read some in which the author included lots cutesy little private jokes for the people he thanked, and I found that incredibly annoying. It read like a high school senior's yearbook page. Acknowledgments are a formal part of your book; do them professionally.

Sommer Leigh said...

I like reading them at the end, even if they are at the beginning. Especially if the book is really good and I"m just not ready to let go yet. I read the acknowledgements page and feel like I had just a few more minutes with the author and their work.

I also use that page to find out who the editor, agent, etc was on a book I liked.

Suzi McGowen said...

I like them if they are
a) short and snappy
or
b) funny and informative if long

I don't want three pages of "and I'd like to thank my dog, and my first grade teacher, and my second grade teacher and my third grade teacher..."

Gehayi said...

Unless the book I'm reading is a novel that required a fair amount of research--which means that there are books and sites that should be credited and experts who should be thanked for their help--I see no need for acknowledgments. Acknowledgments saying thank you to husbands, wives, children, agents, best friends, etc. are silly. I don't care if Joanna Brodie has been the world's most patient spouse or if Max DeWitt has been the best friend in the universe--I don't know these people. Don't bore me with a list of personal thank yous. Dedicate the book to the people you want to thank, cut the acknowledgments unless you have research and experts to acknowledge, and GET ON WITH THE STORY.

JES said...

Like 'em, especially when (as others have said) there's a narrative attached to some/all of the names. But some acknowledgments pages/notes do go on, resembling the end credits on a Hollywood CGI-heavy blockbuster, name after name after name after name... It's hard to imagine that someone whose name appears (say) 24th in a list of 50 feels actually, y'know, acknowledged.

Ink Spills said...

I like them as long as they are personal enough. They give me a sense of the author, and I think that's a good thing, whether it shows up in the front of the book or the back. But if it's too generic, I feel like I've been cheated.

Ted said...

Reading the Acknowledgments for a comparable book usually tells you who represents the author, which helps you determine who to query.

When I go to bookstores or the library, I read Acks for lots of books that I'll never read. It's a quick way to learn something about successful authors.

Lauren said...

I never used to read them until I started writing. I always found them boring, until I started realizing the important information about editors and agents that are typically found in an acknowledgment section. I actually found the dedication page of a book much more interesting than the acknowledgment.

Now that I am writing and see how difficult it is to write a full book, I can appreciate why a writer would want to thank those involved in helping with the manuscript.

Charlie said...

I like them, you often get a glimpse of the author you wouldn't have otherwise and it's quite personal when they divulge reasons and funny stories even if you don't understand them completely. Similarly I like the thank you section on CDs. It's weird when there isn't one.

Jessica Subject said...

I always read dedications and acknowledgments even before I started writing myself.

Greg said...

I'd imagine they're great for the people being acknowledged. And, as an author, I'd be guilt-ridden if I didn't given them the proper credit. Beyond that, as a reader, I never look at them.

Greg said...

I'd imagine they're great for the people being acknowledged. And, as an author, I'd be guilt-ridden if I didn't given them the proper credit. Beyond that, as a reader, I never look at them.

April said...

I don't always read them, I'll admit. I read them more now than I did before I'd decided to officially become a writer/author-wanna-be. I don't like them when they're dry - just a list of editors and publishers and agents that helped in the publication of the novel. I like ones that invoke humor or emotion. You get a better sense of who the writer is and how they came up with that novel's idea. I like them more now because, well, once I'm published I hope people read about the people in MY life who helped make it possible!

Shelli said...

I've heard that acknowledgments are a good place to look for an agent. Find a book you like, that is similar in style and taste to your writing, and query that agent. It sounds like a good idea to me!

Amanda said...

I think they are nice and I always read them. Writing requires a lot of support from friends/family and I think it's nice for that to be acknowledged. :-)

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of them are self-indulgent. And way too many are so cutesy as to boarder on vomit-inducing.

Thanking your mom and dad, spouse, and agent is fine, but when it goes on and on, to twenty or more people thanking copy-editors and book designers and the neighbor down the street who once brought you a latte, it sounds desperate.

Anonymous said...

Ooo, I once had an agent who TOLD me to thank him in the acknowledgmetns section, and to list him as "agent," such was his ego.

He's no longer my agent.

I also find the acknowledgments are much like the writing itself. If the book's prose is clean and to the point, the thank you's will be as well. If the book is overwrought and overwritten, the thank yous are often endless.

ella144 said...

I like the acknowledgments because that's one of the only places to find the agent and editor of a book.

I don't like acknowledgments that stretch on for pages and pages just like I don't like Oscar acceptances speeches that stretch on for a quarter of an hour.

LaylaF said...

I like acknowledgments. They give a personal touch to the complex process of writing and publishing a book. I always read them and wonder about the story behind each person's name. Also...let's face it, it's just good karma!

Tom M Franklin said...

i like them and i read them. i prefer them at the front of the book, but have no problem with them if they're at the end.

as a writer, i can't imagine not having one in my books (whenever they're published). it truly takes a village to get a book published and i think that village deserves to be thanked.

...

Cacy said...

I don't always read the acknowledgment page (except when I'm hoping to see who the agent is. Heh). But I feel it's good for writers to have a place to publicly thank all the people who have helped the book come into being. It's really for those people, who are quite deserving of a shout out.

Cyndy Aleo said...

Two reasons I think they are a must: one, I can figure out who that author's agent was for that book, even if they are now repped by someone different, and two, I nagged the heck out of my ex to get his book done and fully deserved that recognition or the book never would have gotten out the door. ;)

Cameron said...

I just finished Christopher Buckley's Boomsday and was happy to see the Acknowledgements AT THE END of the book rather than beginning.

Maybe that's a good trend, like the relocation of movie credits to the end of the movie.

It's about the content first. If we like it, THEN we'll consider "all the little people that made it happen." If not, we'll walk out in the middle and get a refund on our popcorn.

Jenny said...

I think acknowledgements are great. After all, the writer didn't print, bind, rep, market and distribute that book all by itself. It was a group effort and to ignore the group is just bad, rude, ugly business.

I do think they should be at the end. Like movies, some credits are going at the beginning (cover, copyright pages, etc.)but you do need to recognize people for their work.

Gerri said...

I like to read acknowledgements to see what authors are connected with other authors in the biz. If I recognize names, it's useful to me to know who knows whom. And I'm starting to see people I know show up in acknowledgements, so that's cool, too.

Sarah said...

Dave Egger's acknowledgements in "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" were, in fact, genius. But in general, I think acknowledgements are really interesting and I try to make a point to read them.

Kellye Parish said...

I don't always read them, but I like when they're included (and would like to include such a section in my own novel when it gets published).

What really gets my heart all pitter-patter is a Dedication. Nothing quite so romantic as dedicating your entire artificial world to one special reader.

Anonymous said...

I love them! They are the first thing I read generally.

Sara said...

I love them and always read them.
Bonus points for ones that are funny/clever.

I enjoy them because they inform me in a very different way about the author and their process. For instance, if I just read their work, they seem polished, professional, damn-near perfect even! But I read their acknowledgments and suddenly they're a little more human because they list all the people who helped them get this work to its published/perfect state. It's like a glimpse behind the curtain of an amazing show - I like to know the work didn't just hatch from an egg in its current state, it took a whole supporting cast.

Professionally, I'm interested to know who their agent/editor etc. are.

And on a personal level, I think it's important and appropriate and just sort of "right" on a cosmic level to thank all the people who helped you get where you are. I thank the bus driver, my yoga teacher, and the guy at the deli who makes my sandwich. "Thanks" goes a long way.

I think there should be more "thanks" in our everyday lives. So I *definitely* think that when something momentous happens, something bigger than our everyday lives, like, say, your book is published, you should definitely take time to say all your thank yous...and we, as readers, should take time to read them.

Perry said...

I like them as long as they are not too long. Some people go back and thank Adam and Eve, or the first mutation that produced the human species depending on what they believe.

I think a couple of paragraphs is great.

MJR said...

I always read them, the same way I always sit through Oscar acceptance speeches. They're often boring and self-indulgent, but sometimes I can learn a bit about the author (and I can find out who their editor and agent were).

Kristin Laughtin said...

Like them. If I were published, I'd want to thank people, so I can't begrudge others the same opportunity. Plus, they can give a little insight into the author's life and personality, and sometimes will reveal the name of the author's agent, which can be useful if you're looking for agents who represent a certain type of work.

Tricia Conway said...

I almost always read the acknowledgments. I suppose I like to know who all is involved "behind the scenes."

Perhaps I wasn't paying attention before, but it seems as if I'm just now noticing the ack. page at the back of the book instead of upfront. Maybe just within the past year or two...

I think it's nice, it's polite, and it's an interesting (quick) read.

Leah Raeder said...

I like acknowledgments, and I go out of my way to read them in any book, whether I liked or disliked it. It's charming when the book is good, amusing when bad. When I finish a bad book, I have to admit I enjoy reading the acknowledgments and smirking at how eagerly the author names their accomplices.

But I've found that authors generally don't write acknowledgments in an interesting way. An unqualified list of names--worse, just *first* names--is completely boring. And while I'm sure those thanked are appreciative, I'd feel disappointed if I was mentioned in such a rote, dispassionate manner.

Another thing that intrigues and annoys me is when someone is singled out and thanked, but the thanks is too cryptic to mean anything except to those in the know. Something like, "Thanks to Jane Smith, who slew the jabberwock and draped me in its hide. You're the best." Okay. But what did she really do?

Graystone said...

I think the acknowledgments page is an important part of a book. After all, the book wouldn't be here if someone didn't help you. And really, if you don't like reading the acknowledgments, then you don't have to read the acknowledgments page. No one's forcing you. But it's nice to have them there for the people who do like reading them, I think.

Theresa Milstein said...

When I get my book published, I'm going to need an acknowledgment section. How can I leave anyone out? I have to thank my husband, anyone who critiqued it, my agent, and editor. And if it's the one I'm about to send out for submission, I have to thank Dr. Seuss too.

Derek Gentry said...

I always read the acknowledgments, and I'm always a little shocked when I find a book that doesn't have them. Really? You've got nobody to thank?

I highly recommend checking out the hilarious acknowledgments Pete Dexter wrote for his novel Spooner. He somehow manages to thank people in sincere way while simultaneously questioning the need to do so.

Kelly Wittmann said...

I like them because I *always* want to know who the author's aget is.

Giles Hash said...

I don't really have a feeling either way. Personally, if I'm allowed to have an acknowledgment section when my book is published, I'll take advantage of it. I really like thanking the people who helped me out :)

swampfox said...

They have their place in a well-dressed book, like underwear. But not everyone wears underwear.

Dara said...

I read them. If they're at the beginning I wait until I'm done with the book to read them. I find it's really helpful too, especially if the book is written in the genre I'm writing in; sometimes the author will mention the agent and even helpful books or places of research. But I'm weird like that :P

Icy Roses said...

I like them. I always read everything. I figure if the author went through the trouble of thanking people in print, the least I can do is take notice of it.

Jil said...

I like them because they let me know I can believe what the author wrote and perhaps learn something ie:a chemist about poisons etc.
It's also nice to see my own name there sometimes!

Jeff said...

I always read them and hope that they add to the mood of the book. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. If I'm reading a book for the 5th time and the author is dead, I'm also considering his or her story as another dimension to story itself and so I love it when they dedicate the book to people that might be specific to the story. I never can tell but in itself it creates story. I also like - to my wife, which is sweet.

Sam Hranac said...

I've been listed in a few, despite not being published myself. BUT I'M NOT BITTER! I still like them... at the end of the book as has been mentioned.

Jeff said...

Oops! But yes to acknowledgments! More story!

Terry Stonecrop said...

I enjoy reading them and I'm fine with them at the beginning.

MaryAnn said...

As long as the list of people the writer wants to thank is not to long.

I'd want mine at the front, otherwise what's the point?

Beth S. said...

It depends on how clever and well-written they are. If they're just a list of names with commas between them, then I could care less, but if the writer actually gives us a glimpse into his or her life, then it's exciting to read. The most recent example I can think of of a well-written acknowledgements section is "Will Grayson, Will Grayson" by John Green and David Levithan.

Anonymous said...

I always check the acknowledgements sections of books. It's the fastest and easiest way to decide which agents to submit to, and which to not.

Elaine AM Smith said...

They always strike me as a polite thing to do, generous in success.I don't often read them though.

ryan field said...

I have an inquiring mind. I want to know all the details.

Jan Priddy said...

I always read them, but usually not first. they give me insight to the authors and their work, a sense of where the stories come from when people are thanked for their help, and I like them wherever they are. I will look to see whether they only thank men, or only thank people in the business, who their agent is, whether they thank people who helped them with research. I look for something funny, like Anne McCaffrey bragging she could knit a sweater in a day and that her hair was white. When I completed my MFA I included acknowledgments in my thesis—thanking first a writing partner who'd supported my work, The Flight of the Mind and others, and the director, my advisors, and peers in the program.

T. Anne said...

I think that's like asking the choir if they like God. As writers I think we tend to gravitate towards the acknowledgments section. I for one like to see if they make mention of their agents and how they chose to thank their supporters and family. I agree with the other commenters I appreciate it more in the back of the book. If I were not a writer, I'm not sure I'd be as interested the acknowledgments, the author bio would suffice enough in that case.

*in fact when I bought 'The Secret Year' the first thing I did was turn to the acknowledgments section!*

Sissy said...

I like the acknowledgments sections. It provides so much information for the reader, and for the writer. When I find a book I really love, hopefully the author has thanked their agent, and then I have a frame of reference.

Plus, I would like to think that someday I will get the chance to publicly name all the people that helped me along the way.

The Frisky Virgin said...

I love to read the acknowledgments. Though the writer does the writing, the people around you provide the support. Heck, they deserve a Super Bowl trophy.

February Grace said...

I think it's always nice to say thank you...but I agree- at the end for fiction please (for non-fiction acknowledgements seem to make more sense to me at the beginning, however) and if they cue the orchestra while you're thanking your Pekinese then you know you've gone on too long.

abc said...

LOVE THEM! But I like to learn about the author. And I think it is sweet.

Meagan Spooner said...

I second the notion that the acknowledgments page is not for the readers, it's for the author and everyone around the author who contributed. I feel bad for folks who believe that books are the product of a writer sitting in a room alone--maybe writing is that way for them, but I wouldn't trade my experience for the world. Tons of people help me write, whether it's just by being my cheerleaders or actually getting their hands dirty reading or critiquing. I can't imagine sitting along in a room with no outside input and producing a beautiful piece of art.

But that aside, I do believe the acknowledgments are valuable tools for aspiring writers. They're sometimes funny, inspirational, and usually quite helpful. Authors will thank their agents and editors, which helps new writers start to recognize these names and think about the people they might want representing their own work.

Brad said...

I've always enjoyed the acknowledgments. It make the author seem more real, more human to me. And if they can attain success, being a regular 'ol schmoe like me, that means I've got a shot, too.

Anonymous said...

Waste of a tree!

Ishta Mercurio said...

I like them, for the most part. I like being able to find out who agented and edited a book, and I also like that there is an avenue for authors to publicly acknowledge all the help they get (because we all know that whole "solitary soul click-clacking away and single-handedly turning out a masterpiece" cliche is a lie.

I stop reading when they foray into "and thanks to my favorite band, MuscleJuice, whose music inspired me, and to CreamyCrunch, for the ice cream that carried me through my deadlines..." etc. territory, though. Friends, family, professionals, real people who knew they were helping you, fine; random things/people/places you like? I don't care.

Ishta Mercurio said...

Sorry, that should have been, "for making the ice cream that carried me through my deadlines..."

You get the idea.

Girl Friday said...

I like them and always read them (but then again, I've just started working in publishing, so I'm interested to see who is the author's agent/editor etc)

Melanie said...

They're a letdown when they're just a list of names, but I don't complain about the copyright page, which doesn't get in my way even though it's boring, too.

What's unfortunate is when an author thanks his wife, then gets divorced.

CFD Trade said...

Showing gratitude is not a question but a must.

Anonymous said...

I'm reminded of a reader-letter I once read that had been sent to 'The Vancouver Sun' newspaper.

A young lady named Angela Yeanor had been writing a somewhat trashy 'Sex And The City' type article for The Sun, and this very stuffy reader had sent in a letter of complaint.

"Every Saturday morning," he began, "I make myself a cup of coffee... I make some toast, and I take my copy of The Saturday Review and I go and sit in the alcove off my kitchen... I work hard all week long, and look forward to this ritual. Angela Yeanor's column has no business existing side by side with all the other columns in your magnificent Saturday Review section of the paper. She is a disgrace to the newspaper."

Okay, so three words then.

Don't... read... it.

And quite frankly, I would say the same about quotations.

If a novelist decides, for whatever reason, to commence a novel with a quotation, and you, as the reader, for whatever reason, think that this is a sloppy or a lazy thing to do, then, again, three words...

It's so simple not to read something. All you have to do is exercise a few eyeball muscles. Honestly, the individual who runs this blog would do well to spend a little more time exercising his eyeball muscles and a little less time hitting that big red delete button which he has clearly had installed on his desk.

Megan said...

I love the acknowledgments section.

For me, I get valuable insights to who is friends with who, who is whose agent etc.

I also find it interesting what grants authors had, etc.

david elzey said...

when i'm watching old movies, and the opening credits take lass than two minutes and there's no end credits telling me who the caterers and teamsters were, i am reminded how we have become somewhat obsessed with this idea that everyone deserves mention.

while it's a boon for writers to glean editors and agents names, or maybe catch a friend's name among the list, i don't find that acknowledgments help me appreciate the book any more than the dedications or the LOC info. given that authors have more opportunities to thank people publicly (blogs, websites, etc) i'm not inclined to feel they need to be in the book anymore.

but clearly, according to the poll, i am way outnumbered in this regard.

Steppe said...

In fiction that bases its characters on real people as the personae model it seems fair and honorable to give the background contributors a nod. Other than that just the spouse and current psychiatrist should be the limit.
I voted Enhh.

K. M. Walton said...

Genuine gratitude is always good no matter what. Thanking the people who helped you should be a human standard.

The acknowledgments page isn't for the reader so it shouldn't matter where it is placed -- the page is for the writer, it's the writer's forum, and it belongs in every book.

Lucy said...

Sometimes acknowledgments are fun to read, especially for a novel when the author is thanking different experts who contributed. It makes me feel like they really did their research.

Horserider said...

I love reading them. I love hearing about all the people that came together to make a book happen.

Barbara Martin said...

I like reading Acknowledgments as they provide an insight into the writer and how they relate to those who assisted them on their writing and publishing.

Bron said...

I happen to like acknowledgments sections, but I think you have a biased audience here. I prefer ones that have some humour or storytelling to them. Lists of names don't really appeal, but then let's face it, they're not really there for my benefit, they're there for the people that contributed.

I agree with Anonymous at 7:35pm. If you don't like them, don't read them. I don't like quotations, so I always skip them.

Zee Monodee said...

I think no writer is an island - we all have people who in some way or another help us when we're writing and getting a book out. Acknowledgements strike me as gratitude expressed - to me it means the writer knows that the relationship structure in her/his life is important too.
I know we shouldn't expect thanks for everything we do, but if you're the person who helped, you do enjoy feeling a little validated when someone out and out says thanks for your help.

Personally, I like the ones that have a little explanation with them (like someone mentioned as: to so-so who kept my sanity intact with mallomars throughout the journey that was writing this book).
It's a nice little personal touch. In a time when we expect our writers to be people as well as writers, this does contribute.

Jan said...

I think acknowledgments are fun. In middle grade and YA novels, I use them to play a kind of six degrees of seperation..."Oh, I know that name. She's in the same critique group with the friend of a writer I know." In books for grown ups, I'm far less likely to know anyone so they're less fun.

CMR Prindle said...

I agree with others, cheekychook and Anima for instance, that it's just right to acknowledge the people who helped you. And, as Zee Monodee said, no writer is an island. Even if you do most of the working and figuring out on your own, most writers do have an agent and an editor at the very least. If you've been really reclusive, you might want to even thank your friends for being willing to talk to you six months after you shut them all out (or, you know, my friends after I've shut them out since, yeah, that's me). Basically, I'm a firm believer in giving honor where honor is due. I have every intention of thanking some of the e-groups that helped bolster my writing confidence and critiqued my early work because I really wouldn't be where I am, even now, without them.

The Red Angel said...

I like reading Acknowledgements, and it doesn't really matter to me if they're in the back or front. I think it's a great idea to thank everybody who helped the writer succeed and help out with making the book happen.

~TRA

http://xtheredangelx.blogspot.com

Christy said...

When I love a book, I read EVERYTHING in it, so I like the acknowledgments. They're a little bit like a high school graduation speech or an Oscar award winner speech. I guess the best surprise bits of a book I ever read were in Eggers' A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, even the copyright information page.

K.L. Brady said...

I think acknowledgement sections are more for the people who get thanked than they are for the people who thank them or read them. Personally, I feel like there are so many people who helped me on my journey, what better way than to have that "acknowledged" in every copy of a book I see. Those thank you's will live on forever, for generations. They work for me.

Robyn Campbell said...

I like them and can't wait to have the opportunity to do some. It's a feel good thing. =)

Anonymous said...

I like them! Think about how hard it is to get a story to that stage, how many hurdles one had to jump to get there. If it's self-indulgent, damn it, it's well-deserved. Besides, I like knowing who his/her agent is.

And I can't imagine not thanking the people at home that put up with me locking myself away on a regular basis to write something that may or may not go anywhere some day.

JD said...

I think it's nice to acknowledge in print the people who helped you get that very book out. If an author wants to thank people privately, it's certainly their prerogative. The reader has the ultimate choice to read or skip the acknowledgments.
Personally, I'm way more offended by typos and printing errors.

Malia Sutton said...

I voted "like" but I think it's an interesting topic for another reason.

In the past, when books were released in print, it took months, or years, to get them released, from conception to the day they hit the bookstore. Our only real contact with the author, for person info, was the acknowledgment page and bio page.

But now, what I've been seeing with author friends, is that there's so much online info about them already, from blog posts to their author web sites to the social networks, the acknowledgment page doesn't seem as significant as it did before we had all this info at our fingertips.

I know a few writers who are still doing it, and I love reading these pages, but it might be one of those things that starts to disappear as e-books grow in the mainstream. Particularly in genre fiction. With some authors putting out a new release every six weeks its more efficient to just list a web site for personal info than to write an acknowledgment page.

Lisa Yarde said...

Definitely like. No one gets to be published without having the help of others. It's nice to see authors acknowledge those who've helped make their dream a reality. I always read acknowledgments and dedications in any book.

Becky Levine said...

Love them, and have ever since I was a kid. Maybe because I knew I wanted to be a writer even then, and I felt like it brought me closer to the person behind the words?

Teresa said...

As a reader I didn't pay too much attention to them. As a writer they are VERY important. People who are involved on your journey to publication like to receive acknowledgment. I have heard many people who were slighted on the acknowledgments. They feel jilted. If they are a part of your work you should give them credit. AND always thank the readers who read your stories on every publication. They keep our dream alive.

Brian Naslund said...

I like them because they offer some insight into who the author is, but also because they often mention who their agent is, and I always like knowing that!

Sheila Deeth said...

I ignore them at the beginning of a book - I just want to read. At the end I might look for the agent, or just enjoy finding out a bit more about the writer.

bsgibson said...

I read the acknowlegements, as it gives me a clue about the author and the people that helped them along the way. I do agree I'd rather see them in the back in lieu of the front.

Melanie said...

Agree about Eggers' Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. By far, that book has the best set of "extra" pages. I believe he acknowledged that Pluto was a planet if I remember correctly.

Samantha said...

I quite enjoy reading the acknowledgements as long as they're not pages long. I think the best ones are where the author thanks people who helped them write the book, or who gave them inspiration.

Andrew E. Kaufman said...

I always enjoy reading them. As an author, I'm interested in seeing who helped them get to that point in their life, their struggles and ups and downs. I also like hearing with whom they did their research.

Lucinda said...

Each time I revise my book, the acknowledgements section changes until now. It doesn't exist.

One time it read, "To the one who knows" which just about includes everyone from my dead cat to my fifth-grade teacher.

Normally, the acknowledgement section gets only a glancing read-through by me unless I am very impressed by the book, then I may go back and read it again. Maybe they would be best at the end of the book.

I voted "yes" because it is nice to connect on that level with the author at times. Although, sometimes they do get carried away.

Balance in all things includes acknowledging others.

Gay said...

Although I religiously read your blog, I rarely take time to comment. This time, though, I have to weigh in. Of all the pages in a book, the ones I NEVER skip are the acknowledgments. I want to know who played a role in getting the book to print. Did the author work alone, or were there many many people involved? What were their roles? If an acknowledgment is properly written (and I have a definite idea of what "proper" is), it gives me a clue as to who that writer is and how s/he works, and I feel more inclined to follow him/her on to the next book. They matter--and they should ALWAYS come at the end, in my opinion.

Marta Wendy said...

Sometimes I read the acknowledgments. If the author keeps them short.
If the acknowledgments take up 2 pages, I don't even look at them.

Robin said...

I've always liked them at the end. They give you great insight and many times the writer takes you through the journey they had as they worked on the book. I've been mentioned in Acknowlegments before and it's pretty cool.

Dawnstep said...

I always love reading the acknowledgments. It gives the reader a little glimpse into what- who- brought them the book they just read, and that's always fun, at the very least, for me to see.

TheJillianSays said...

I think with so much work going into some books, it was REALLY necessary for the writer to acknowledge that she does not know everything about every thing, and someone helped her incorporate certain places, subjects, or persons into her story seamlessly.

But in many books, I think it is just another section to pat the shoulders of the whiny people in the writer's life who complain "you haven't thanked ME yet! Remember, I make you sandwiches! And I taught my parakeet to say your NAME!"

elementalmoon said...

Acknowledgments to me should be creative, touching if appropriate and most of all short and sweet. Thanking every single person you ever talked to about your novel before its publication, to me, makes the thanks less important. That being said, if I'm not interested in what or who is being thanked, I skip it. I can always go back if there is someone I want to remember mentioned there.

Stephen Prosapio said...

Whoever started the trend to put them at the end was aa genius. I typically skipped them at the begining or skimmed them. When they're at the end it's almost as though the novel is extended just a peek.

I'll always put mine at the end.

Scott said...

I always read acknowledgments. It's like applauding the people who helped. It's also a thrill to be in them, as happened for me recently.

Kathryn Paterson said...

I love acknowledgments pages. It's really strange, but I actually read them first to get a sense of who the author is as a person. Sometimes that influences the way I read the novel, and sometimes it actually makes me a more patient reader for that person's work.

For my own work, I had to consult with several psychiatrists and medical professionals to get a good understanding of my two main characters. If this work ever gets into print, you better believe I'm going to thank at least the main psychiatrist I spoke with. It wouldn't be proper not to.

Ashley said...

I like them. I tend to skim them more, if they're generically, "Thanks to Bob and Kathy and Mom and Dad," but if they're a little more personal I'll absolutely enjoy them start to finish. It's almost part of the story at that point.

Christine said...

I love reading acknowledgments, especially when they're at the beginning, because those tend to be the most personal. The ones at the end are often research acknowledgments, which are good too, but tend to get more laundry-list-y.

Beth Mithen said...

I love reading acknowledgments when they are specific. It gives me a feel for what all the author went through in the research and development of their book.

Meghan Ward said...

I almost always read the acknowledgments section to see if I recognize any of the names and to see who the author's agent and editor are. They are a great resource for writers!

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