feature image writing acknowledgments in book

What Is The Acknowledgments Section?

The Acknowledgments section is where you recognize and thank everyone who helped you with your book. It’s a way to display your appreciation to them in a public and permanent forum.

Who Should You Thank In The Acknowledgments?

This is entirely up to you. Recognize whoever you feel contributed enough to your book that they deserve it. For example, common groups of people that Authors thank include:

  1. Family members (spouse, children, parents)
  2. Friends
  3. Editors/people who worked on the book production
  4. Publishers
  5. Coworkers/assistants
  6. Agents/managers
  7. Contributors/advisers/sources of information
  8. Teachers/mentors/bosses
  9. Inspirations

Do You Need One?

No. Most books do have them, but by no means are they required or mandatory.

How To Write Your Acknowledgments Section

1. Remember: people will read this

People will read the Acknowledgments section, and it will impact them—especially the people who are in it. This section is about those people you are naming, not about you, so approach this as you should your entire book: make it good for the people you are naming, who will read it.

2. Start with a list of who will go in (by full name)

This method has worked well in many situations: write out all the people you want to thank BEFORE you start writing this section. Doing this allows you to see them all together in a list and helps ensure that everyone is on the list who should be there.

Note: a great way to make sure you are not missing anyone is to group people by category so that you are more likely to remember them. When you put your family members together, you are less likely to leave any out.

3. Be specific for the important people

For the most important people, the more specific you can be in your thanks, the better.

For example, this is not specific:

“I want to thank my wife, Veronica. Thank you.”

This is specific:

“I have to start by thanking my awesome wife, Veronica. From reading early drafts to giving me advice on the cover to keeping the munchkins out of my hair so I could edit, she was as important to this book getting done as I was. Thank you so much, dear.”

Being specific in thanks is all about making them feel special. The more detailed you can be in your thanks, the more you’re showing that you recognized and appreciated their help. It is rewarding when someone thanks you for a particular thing you did, as opposed to just thanking you overall.

As you go further into your list, you can group people. But again, be specific in your thanks, even to groups. For example, this is not specific:

“Thanks to everyone on my publishing team.”

This is specific:

“Thanks to everyone on the Scribe team who helped me so much. Special thanks to Ellie, the ever-patient Publishing Manager; Meghan, my amazing Scribe; and Erin, the greatest cover designer I could ever imagine.”

4. Be sincere in your thanks

The worst thing you can do in an Acknowledgments section is say things you don’t believe. If you aren’t willing to be sincere, then you are better off not doing one at all.

Sincerity means honestly and deeply thanking the people who helped you (mentioning the specific ways they helped, as noted above) and remembering the way that they sacrificed for you.

At the same time, don’t feel the need to go overboard. You’re not accepting an Oscar, so don’t go on and on or say things just to make yourself look good. Make it meaningful and sincere.

5. Don’t worry about length

You might see some people recommend the Acknowledgments section be only one page. Ignore that.

This is the only section I will tell you that you can go long if you want. You may only write one book in your life, and if that is the case, then take all the time and space you need to thank everyone who helped you.

At Scribe, we put the Acknowledgments section in the back so it doesn’t interfere with the average reader’s experience. Readers can skip this section if they are bored, but you can never go back and re-thank the people you left out because of some arbitrary “rule.”

Examples of Acknowledgments Sections

You can pull almost any book off your shelf and read the Acknowledgments section for examples. Here are some examples of different Acknowledgments sections for books we have done.

This sample acknowledgment is from I Got There:

Writing a book is harder than I thought and more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. None of this would have been possible without my best friend, Bishop. He was the first friend I made when I moved to San Antonio. He stood by me during every struggle and all my successes. That is true friendship.

I’m eternally grateful to my uncle Bobby, who took in an extra mouth to feed when he didn’t have to. He taught me discipline, tough love, manners, respect, and so much more that has helped me succeed in life. I truly have no idea where I’d be if he hadn’t given me a roof over my head or became the father figure whom I desperately needed at that age.

To Mr. Gentry, who took a chance on a twenty-three-year-old kid and let him run his offices in Portland, Oregon. He never saw my age, my race, or my lack of formal education. He just saw a kid hungry to learn, hungry to grow, and hungry to succeed in business. He never stopped me; he only encouraged me.

Although this period of my life was filled with many ups and downs, my time in the mortgage industry was worth it. My time in the industry wouldn’t have been made possible without Guy Stidham who taught me the honest mortgage game.

A very special thanks to Dustin Wells who brought me on as the lowest-paid employee at Headspring and then allowed me to rise through the ranks to become president of the company. Thank you for introducing me to company culture.

Writing a book about the story of your life is a surreal process. I’m forever indebted to Tucker Max, Mark Chait, and Amanda Ibey for their editorial help, keen insight, and ongoing support in bringing my stories to life. It is because of their efforts and encouragement that I have a legacy to pass on to my family where one didn’t exist before.

To everyone at the Scribe Crew who enables me to be the CEO of a company that I’m honored to be a part of, thank you for letting me serve, for being a part of our amazing company, and for showing up every day and helping more authors turn their ideas into stories.

To my family. To Aunt Jean: for always being the person I could turn to during those dark and desperate years. She sustained me in ways that I never knew that I needed. To my little brother, Mario, and sisters, Rachel and Kristin: thank you for letting me know that you had nothing but great memories of me. So thankful to have you back in my life.

Finally, to all those who have been a part of my getting there: Jennifer Jackson, Kay Oder, Sharon Slonaker, Julie Fisher, Kathy Chesner, and Brother Smith (RIP). To the original Headspring team: Kevin Hurwitz, Jimmy Bogard, Mahendra Mavani, Pedro Reyes, Eric Sollenberger, Glenn Burnside, Justin Pope, Sharon Cechelli, and Anne Epstein.

JT McCormick names people who made his book possible in relative order, from most to least impactful. Note how he writes it directly “to” the people who made an impact, rather than to the reader “about” those people. He rounds it out with a series of names at the end to make sure people do not feel forgotten, even if he does not have the space to devote a full paragraph to each person.

Bill Hicks, in The Leadership Manifesto, starts his acknowledgments off with a blanket acknowledgment of leaders everywhere, before naming a handful of them by name. He then thanks his book publishing team and closes with a paragraph acknowledging his CEO. This is a good example of an acknowledgment from a business executive:

The world is a better place thanks to people who want to develop and lead others. What makes it even better are people who share the gift of their time to mentor future leaders. Thank you to everyone who strives to grow and help others grow. It is the business version of The Lion King song, “Circle of Life.”

To all the individuals I have had the opportunity to lead, be led by, or watch their leadership from afar, I want to say thank you for being the inspiration and foundation for The Leadership Manifesto.

Without the experiences and support from my peers and team at Ultimate Software, this book would not exist. You have given me the opportunity to lead a great group of individuals—to be a leader of great leaders is a blessed place to be. Thank you to Chad, Dan, Dave, Gretchen, JC, Laura, Patrick, Scott, and Susan.

Having an idea and turning it into a book is as hard as it sounds. The experience is both internally challenging and rewarding. I especially want to thank the individuals that helped make this happen. Complete thanks to Joanie, Randy Walton, Patrick O’Neill, Barbara Boyd, Carol Raphael, and Dan Bernitt.

Scott Scherr, thank you for being a leader I trust, honor, and respect. I will always welcome the chance to represent you. “Au Au Au!”

Tiffany Haddish, a well-known comedian, continues her “simple yet emotionally powerful” style from her book The Last Black Unicorn into the acknowledgments. She thanks her close family and then closes with a joke in line with the subject matter of the book and a blanket acknowledgment to the untold masses who have encouraged her.

I want to thank:

My Grandma.

My Mama.

My Aunties.

My Daddy for donating the sperm that made me.

All my brothers and sisters.

My best friends Selena, Shermona, Aiko, Shana, Richea.

My old agent, my current agents and managers, and Tucker Max.

Department of Children Services and the court system for taking care of me when no one else would.

I want to thank EVERYONE who ever said anything positive to me or taught me something. I heard it all, and it meant something.

All the dudes I ever slept with, I appreciate the experiences, but I ain’t naming none of you!

I want to thank God most of all, because without God I wouldn’t be able to do any of this.