If you are writing a book, you might want to dedicate it to someone who has inspired, supported or influenced you. This usually means placing a short message to someone important at the start of your book or manuscript. But how do you go about this? Our top five tips for writing a book dedication include:
Decide whom you want to dedicate your book to.
Think about why you want to dedicate your book to them.
Consider how you should address the dedicatee(s).
Draft multiple versions of your dedication and pick the best one.
Have your manuscript (dedication included) proofread by an expert.
Read on for more information on how to write a good book dedication.
1. Pick Whom You Dedicate Your Book To
You might know instinctively to whom you want to dedicate your book. If you’re not sure, though, the key is to keep it simple. Unlike the acknowledgements, in which you get to list all the people and organisations who have directly or indirectly contributed to your work, a dedication is for a select few or even just one person.
You might choose someone who was directly involved in your writing, such as a mentor or somebody who inspired one of your characters. Alternatively, it could be a person who has had a profound impact on your life in general. Many authors dedicate their books to their parents, children, partner or a close friend.
Alternatively, you might prefer to dedicate your book to a group of people. For example, in Runaway Robot, a children’s book about a child with a prosthetic hand, the author Frank Cottrell-Boyce includes ‘all the bionic heroes’ in his dedication.
If you are struggling to think of someone even after straining your brain, moreover, you can always dedicate your book to your readers!
2. Think About Why You Are Dedicating Your Book
Once you have decided to whom you will dedicate your book, give some thought to the reason this person or group deserves recognition. This will help you to word your dedication in the most meaningful way.
This might be something specific to the book you have written, such as dedicating it to someone who helped you through the writing process. Or it could be because the dedicatee has influenced your life more generally, such as if you pick a relative or teacher who inspired you to take up writing in the first place.
If you’re not sure what to do here, you might find it helpful to jot down the qualities that make your chosen person special to you, or ways in which they’ve helped you. Then you can decide whether your dedication will focus on the most significant one, or if it should sum up their importance in a more general way.
3. Consider How to Address the Dedicatee
The next thing to think about is how you will identify the person or persons to whom you’re dedicating your writing. Your choice will largely depend on your relationship with them and the level of formality you feel appropriate.
A good rule is to refer to your dedicatee(s) in the same way you would when speaking to them. For example, if you’d usually call your parents ‘mum and dad’, it might feel odd to call them ‘mother and father’ or ‘ma and pa’ in your dedication!
Find this useful?
Subscribe to our newsletter and get writing tips from our editors straight to your inbox.
Remember to be considerate of the person you are addressing. Although it is a great accolade to be mentioned in a dedication, your partner might not appreciate being referred to as ‘my dearest Snookum Pookum’ in 5,000 copies of your book!
4. Draft Multiple Versions of Your Dedication
Dedications are often just a sentence or two long. So, whatever you want to say, you should be as concise as possible. The main elements to include are:
The person or people you wish to recognise.
Why you value them or how they have helped you.
For example, typical messages found on a book’s dedication page might include:
For my daughter Ellie and my son Toby,who tell me I’m the best writer in the world.
I dedicate this book to my wife Susan.You’re my toughest critic and my biggest fan.
In addition, since book dedications are usually so short, we suggest writing a few versions and choosing the one that you like best. That way, you can be sure your message will come through clearly for the dedicatee(s).
5. Have Your Writing Proofread by the Experts
The dedication may be the last thing you’ll write before submitting or publishing your manuscript. But that doesn’t mean you can let standards slide! The last thing you want to do is dedicate your book to your ‘big bother’ or ‘best fiend’.
As such, you should always have your dedication checked alongside the rest of your manuscript. And if you’d like an expert to review your writing, you can try our proofreading service for free by sending us a trial document today.