The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

What’s it Like: Writing Those Pesky Acknowledgements

I’m a new girl at this publishing lark. And a not very cool one at that. I get quite giddy and gushy and over excited at all manner of things. Understanding this about myself, I observe what the great and the good say and do in order to inform my own behaviour – I don’t want to look like a twit,do I?

Yet there is one place where I’ve come a bit unstuck. It is the matter of Acknowledgements.

There is a school of thought, from some people I very much like and respect, that a long list of acknowledgements is a little showy. That it implies your great Work of Art is so extraordinary it required a raft of people to beat it into existence. This really bothered me and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it. No-one wants to be the Oscar winner that won’t shut up, do they?

And I haven’t even won anything! Although it sometimes feels like I have.

Maybe it’s because Academic Acknowledgements show the depth of research and wealth of fellow brains involved in a thesis? So when novelists write long lists of acknowledgements,  they are ‘bigging up’ their work?  Maybe I’ve completely missed the point of what ‘Acknowledgements’ are all about?

I don’t want to be the new kid everyone is laughing at for being such a thicky pants she gets everything wrong…

So I asked my editor for guidance, how many words I could  have for my acknowledgements?


Uh oh. Mine is a shade under 400 and that’s having cut and cut and cut.

I made a list:

Reasons to keep it brief:

  1. Acknowledgements aren’t ‘thank you’s’ in the sense that normal people know them, they are something more academic that you don’t understand and you will, therefore, look like a twit and more experienced writers may scoff at you.

Reasons to follow your heart:

  1. You enjoy reading other people’s acknowledgements
  2. You may not get another chance to thank, in print,  people who’ve helped you along the way.
  3. They may not be thank yous in the normal sense of the word but maybe they should/could be?
  4. People who don’t like them don’t have to read them.
  5. You don’t actually care that much if you look like a twit if you feel you’re doing the right thing
  6. This arrived and made your day:
Inbali Inserles FoxCraft
Inbali Iserles FoxCraft

Because of this:


Thank you so much Inbali, a reminder of a lovely day, of being a tiny part in your new project and a book I know I’m going to love. You helped me make up my mind.  The email to my editor has been  sent (begging forgiveness and a few extra words).

Also, I haven’t called them ‘acknowledgements’, I’ve called them ‘Thank Yous’,  because that is what they are.

I am not an academic, try as I might, I know no better. A lot of people did help me on my publication journey and I do think my book is better for it. I’m not saying it’s the Best Book Ever. But it is the Best Book it Can Be because of the help I got along the way. A lot of it.

Mind you, the fear of looking like a twit had some effect. It’s half the length it could have been. Maybe  I’ll only look like half a twit.

4 thoughts on “What’s it Like: Writing Those Pesky Acknowledgements”

  1. Interesting thoughts, particularly as acknowledgements and thank yous seem to be more common these days and easy to just take for granted. I’m wondering if part of it is also to show that novel writing and getting published isn’t a solo activity? I often note the absence of an acknowledgement more than its inclusion. Although I do feel, sometimes, like I’m intruding into something very personal when reading some author’s acknowledgements.

    Great post, Kathy!

  2. Couldn’t agree more. It’s so British to worry about looking sentimental: and after all, all my supporters on Unbound get thanked at the back for very real help. Who knows if they only pledged to appear at the back? 😉

  3. I had a big old think about this too and went for intimate Thank Yous rather than acknowledgements, on the premise that the only people who read them are people who know the author in some capacity – – or fledgling writers. Like you Kathy, I love reading Acknowledgements, and I’ve always done so as a way to try and get insight into the journey to getting published – also a well-written acknowledgement/thank you humanizes the writing/publishing process and also the author. I have no doubt you will do a brilliant job.

  4. My pleasure, Kathy! Lovely to have an opportunity to thank people who helped to inspire or support your story. Looking forward to reading your book in due course, including the acknowledgements x

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