Author acknowledgements: Interested or an anorak’s secret pleasure?

Thank youA few weeks ago, prompted by a friend wondering what she should put in hers, I posted on those brief autobiographical paragraphs which preface most books. I had a mixed response, including a few from authors. Having admitted that I always read them I confessed to one respondent that I was also drawn to acknowledgements, writing myself off as an anorak. She replied politely, but I knew what she meant. Then, someone I know retweeted the post and we fell into a brief conversation in which he volunteered, with no prompting at all from me, that he often went straight to the acknowledgements section. We agreed that we both like to see which other writers our author had been influenced by or consorted with. And it seems we’re not the only ones, either: my kind tweeter pointed me at this piece in the Guardian. Anyone else out there who likes to scan acknowledgements? Don’t be shy now. You’d be in good company.

15 thoughts on “Author acknowledgements: Interested or an anorak’s secret pleasure?

  1. naomifrisby

    I love them but since I was youngish (teens?) I’ve read every page of every book I’ve finished – I love starting with the reviewer’s praise (although I don’t do this with review copies) and ending with the acknowledgements. Like you, I like to know which other writers the writer knows/exchanges work-in-progress with, who’s edited the book and who they might have consulted for expert advice along the way. I am quite weird about this stuff though – not in a stalkery way (she qualifies quickly) but in a being nosy/wanting to have been part of this world since I was young kind of way.

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  2. catherinejbooks

    I love the Acknowledgements and always read them. They are part of the whole package and I feel that if the author considered it important enough to thank someone then I should take the time to read the thanks.

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    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      I agree. It seems only polite . I’m also a fan of ‘author’s notes’ which are sometimes at the back of novels that have ventured into more unusual territory. There’s an interesting one about science in A Reunion of Ghosts which I’ve just finished.

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  3. Annabel (gaskella)

    Always – but I do skim through the “everyone at X publisher” type bits – more interested in those consulted, other author friends who’ve helped – the bits that give you more of a picture about the author.

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  4. helenmackinven

    As I mentioned on Twitter, I always read them as I’m naturally nosey about everything and anything and like to know how has been involved in supporting the writer. I also like to see if I recognise any names from Twitter etc. I’ve had ‘thank you’ mentions in two books which was lovely. One of them was from my close friend, Karen Campbell, but she didn’t tell me before the book was published so it was a real surprise and I was really touched. The other was for proofreading a friend’s book. It’s always nice to see writers acknowledging that many people help towards the writing of a book on many different levels.

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    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      What a delightful surprise that must have been! Absolutely right about those who help actually make the book ready for publication, in particular translators if appropriate. Also long-suffering partners who usually get a mention, if not a dedication.

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  5. ejfrostuk

    I usually read them and have found some wonderful new authors, like Chuck Wendig, by reading other author acknowledgements where they mention their influences or writing circle.

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    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      I hadn’t thought of doing that. Good tip! Thank you. I’m usually looking out for writers I’ve already read.

      Reply
  6. Alice

    I didn’t until recently. In fact I decided to read the acknowledgements, rather out of character, with Half of a Yellow Sun (and it made me a little teary). So, I think it is something I will do more regularly now. It’s interesting to see who supported or influenced a story.

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    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Oh, I need to go back and look at those, now. Glad to hear you’ve been converted, Alice.

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  7. tanya (52 books or bust)

    I always read acknowledgements. It can tell you so much. I also became obsessed with them when I was writing my dissertation. I rewrote them almost daily, depending on how the work was going and how i felt about those around me.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Now, there’s an idea: acknowledgement histories. That would tell you even more.

      Reply

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