A Guide to Writing a Book Dedication

Woman in front of laptop writing a book dedication

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Writing a book is hard work, and typically, authors get a little help along the way. A book dedication is a message from the author to express gratitude and appreciation to those who have given time and inspiration while adding a personal touch for the readers.

What’s the purpose of a dedication?

A dedication is part of the front matter of your book for authors to honor and acknowledge individuals or groups who have played a significant role in their writing journey. It can be an expression of gratitude, a tribute to loved ones, or a simple gesture to recognize the support and encouragement received from a friend or editor.

What do you say in a book dedication?

When it comes to drafting a book dedication, there are no set rules. However, there are a few common elements that show up that you may want to include.

Thank your team of editors, beta readers, and important people in your life

Acknowledging those who have contributed to the success of your book is a wonderful way to show your appreciation. This could include your editor, proofreaders, beta readers, or close friends and family members who supported you through the writing process. Their feedback, encouragement, and constructive criticism may have shaped your book, and a book dedication page is a great opportunity to recognize their contributions.

Consider Tom Crewe’s dedication in The New Life, which he dedicated to his parents as well as his beloved English teacher who believed in him and inspired him.

For John and Deborah, my parents.

And for Angela Baker (1942-2013), in fulfilment of a promise.

Express personal sentiments

A dedication can be an opportunity to convey personal messages to individuals who hold a special place in your heart. It could be an expression of love, appreciation, or a meaningful anecdote that reflects your relationship with the person you’re dedicating the book to.

Take Antoine De Saint Exupery’s famous dedication in The Little Prince:

To Leon Werth

I ask the indulgence of the children who may read this book for dedicating it to a grown-up. I have a serious reason: he is the best friend I have in the world. I have another reason: this grown-up understands everything, even books about children. I have a third reason: he lives in France where he is hungry and cold. He needs cheering up. If all these reasons are not enough, I will dedicate the book to the child from whom this grown-up grew. All grown-ups were once children — although few of them remember it. And so I correct my dedication:

To Leon Werth, when he was a little boy.

A dedication is a personal choice, and you have the freedom to customize it as you see fit. Consider the tone and style of your book and align your dedication accordingly.

Tips for writing a dedication

Let’s dive into some tips to help you write a meaningful and memorable book dedication.

Tailor your dedication to your target audience

Consider the readers who will pick up your book and tailor your dedication to resonate with them. If you’re writing a children’s book, for example, you might want to include a dedication that speaks to their imagination and curiosity. You could use playful language or references that children can relate to.

Follow C.S. Lewis’s example in The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe:

To Lucy Barfield

My Dear Lucy,
I wrote this story for you, but when I began it, I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result, you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather,

C.S. Lewis

Create a memorable opening line

Grab the readers’ attention right from the start with a captivating opening line. It could be a thought-provoking statement, a heartfelt expression, or even a touch of humor. The goal is to engage the reader and make them curious to explore the rest of the book.

From Visions of Cody, by Jack Kerouac

Dedicated to America, whatever that is.

Keep it brief, but meaningful

While a dedication allows you to express your gratitude and appreciation, it’s worth keeping it concise. Aim for one or two sentences that convey your sentiments effectively.

From Cosmos, by Carl Sagan

In the vastness of space and immensity of time, it is my joy to spend a planet and an epoch with Annie.

Express gratitude and appreciation

While writing is an endeavor that involves lots of solitude, remember to express your gratitude and appreciation to those who have made a difference in your life and your writing. This can even include the people for whom you are writing your book.

To my readers, who have embraced my words and allowed my stories to come alive. Your unwavering support and encouragement have fueled my creative spirit. This book is dedicated to each and every one of you.

Keep it in the style of your genre

If you’re writing humor, make your dedication message funny.

Consider P.G. Wodehouse’s dedication for Heart of a Goof:

To my daughter, Leonora, without whose never-failing sympathy and encouragement this book would have been finished in half the time.

Or Lemony Snicket’s darkly humorous dedication message in the first book in A Series of Unfortunate Events:

For Beatrice–
My love for you shall live forever.
You, however, did not.

Try something fun and different

I have been using book dedications to tell a story, one word at a time. For example, this was from my first book, Mr. Pants: It’s Go Time:

For Soen and Sadie, the coolest cats I know.

“All…”

By following these tips and infusing your book dedication page  with your unique voice, you can create a memorable and heartfelt special message that resonates with your readers.

There’s no dedication without publication

When you’ve got your manuscript ready and your book dedication complete, BookBaby offers professional book editing services to refine your manuscript, book distribution services to help you reach your readers effectively, and the best self-publishing packages in the industry!

Planning a Book Launch free guide

Related Posts
Tips for Writing a Book Acknowledgements Page
What Goes in The Front Matter of Your Book?
Writers and Editors: Finding the Right Fit
What to Know About Writing a Book Table of Contents
How To Be a Good Beta Reader

3 COMMENTS

  1. I just noticed the typos in my comment (thanks to “spell check”). Note that the correct spelling is “Acknowledgments” (no “e” after “g”).

  2. You seem to be conflating the dedication and acknowledgements. The former is very brief and there’s no need to “grab the readers’ attention right from the start with a captivating opening line.” (Reserve that for chapter one.) The last few examples are appropriate for dedications (“To So-and-So” with just a few words; no need for the word “Dedication” as it’s understood).

    To acknowledge all those who’ve contributed to the writing endeavor, follow the first three sections in this article. The Acknowledgements page is typically placed in the back of the book these days, and there you can express your thanks to each individual for their contributions. (Per the Chicago Manual of Style, the bible for book publishing.)

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