weight listed

Writing your acknowledgments section is like deciding who to invite to your wedding. And if it’s your second book, it’s not unlike your second marriage. You have a chance to do it right the second time, to do it better. To include those you’d forgotten on the first go. If you mention one friend, in a certain circle, you open the floodgates, and then how do you not mention that one? It’s not as if anyone is actually expecting to be mentioned, but once they do read the acknowledgments, they might feel slighted if they see others have been mentioned, just not them.

At least with my wedding, I devised a rule. I wouldn’t be inviting anyone with whom I didn’t speak over the phone. I think it’s a good rule. There are of course those forever friends, the ones you’d always invite, even when you don’t have the chance to speak as often as you’d like. But over all, it makes sense to include those you really let into your world, in phone calls and panic attacks. Where do I draw the line when it comes to the acknowledgment section?

I’ve noticed the really big authors sometimes don’t even have an acknowledgments section. And those that do, they keep it short, maybe three lines, six max. I hate the acknowledgments sections that go on and on by the yard. It’s not special to be mentioned in a laundry list. It’s not a real acknowledgment if you’re just lumped in, not singled out.

Before you know it, you’ve acknowledged people who had nothing to do with the book, other than, being part of your life, in either an intimate (your closest friends) or random way (Instant-messenger-only friends who’ve read a chapter or two and simply replied, "I like it."). I also don’t like the blanket phrase, "thank you to all my girls," or "much appreciation for my supportive friends." What a cop-out. I truly wish I had the moxie to only thank and acknowledge those that touched the book in a meaningful way. That would be showing my truest appreciation. For the people who line edited, who said, "I think you can come up with a better word." To the people who genuinely improved Moose. Instead, I fear I’ll be walking down the (book)aisle, staring at the names and faces of those who in the end might be wonderful but who have nothing to do with this book.

Of course, there’s also the issue of where to seat the honored guests. That is, who comes first in the lineup, and why do authors always begin with thanking their publishers and agents or mothers? It’s too predictable. And then there’s the whole matter of the wording of the invitation. Thanks are due… owe a debt to…thanks to…my friends are too numerous to mention here, but I thank them too…my gratitude extents to…

All lines I’ll no doubt be incorporating into my weight list.



  1. I know my acknowledgment section will be very small. I've thought a lot about it. It probably won't make any sense to you, but you're on the short list. I may not talk to you on the phone anymore, but I value our friendship as it is and you've been an inspiration in so many ways.

  2. I just finished a book where the author left her nearest and dearest til the end. It seemed powerful there. Like, you read through the rest to see that. It was about 1 page (front and back) and 1 side of the next page. It didn't seem too long- but it also was her first and what I guess will be her only book. (It was a memoir, but she's much older and I think she pretty much said what she wanted to stay- and she isn't normally a writer).

  3. So me & 3 Teen's Mom & Eleanor Trousers & Simone & Nikki & Julia & Anonymous & anon & whatshername, we're totes in, right?

  4. Barbara E., I know you've said in the past that you don't have time, but would you just figure it out and start writing a blog already. You crack me up! PLEASE??!

  5. I loved how in SUAD you left Phil till the end and wrote the most amazing acknowledgement to him. It was so special. I look forward to MOOSE.

  6. Thought so, too, Julia G.

    STEPH, I am so looking forward to "Moose" since we know each other over dieting or to be accurate: we met through the WW website and not through a meeting. Oh and we spoke on the phone once or twice in January 2001 when I needed to ask you if I could come over for a little chat. ;) BTW: fatness has gotten to me again. Or to my diet strucken head at least. I totally forgot that summer includes dips into pools with nothing on but mean bathing suits. Naive me. ;)

  7. Thanks a ton for sharing your strategy for your wedding list. You probably just saved me 10K!

    Recipes, Holiday Decorating, Dating Advice – and now cost effective wedding planning!

  8. My cousin wrote a book and thanked me as well as a slew of other cousins by name. I don't recall where my name fell – before or after my brother or the other cousins or his wife – and to be honest, I was surprised to be mentioned at all.

    Maybe this is one of those things where it lets you know who your true friends are? If they're going to be too busy being miffed they weren't mentioned in your book to be happy for you that you've got a book out on shelves, then maybe they're not such great friends.

    I just read a friend's book that's not yet published. It's great and we've had extensive talks about it and I've pointed out what I loved and what distracted me from the story. If she doesn't acknowledge my help? I could give a shit. I didn't help her to get the acknowledgement. I helped her because I could, and she's my friend and it was interesting.

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