More on Acknowledgments and a Poll

Gwenda links to Emily G berating people for their intensely irritating acknowledgments page and gives a fabulous list of don’ts. Now, I’m on the record as being all for acks, and I didn’t entirely agree with some of her complaints, but I sure was struck by this suggestion: I propose a straightforward film-style list of credits on the last page.

Interesting idea. So now I’m thinking of doing it for my next book, Magic Lessons. Here’s what it would look like:


Publisher & editor: Eloise Flood

Editor & prodder: Liesa Abrams

Fellow pedant & seeker of perfection: Andy Ball

Answerer of annoying questions and all round helpful person: Margaret Wright

Designer of the beautiful interiors: Chris Grassi

Copyeditor of the Gods: Polly Watson

First Readers: John Bern, Gwenda Bond, Pamela Freeman, Carrie Frye, Margo Lanagan, Jan Larbalestier, Karen Meisner, Sally O’Brien, Ron Serdiuk, Micole Sudberg, and Lili Wilkinson.

Jilkminggan and Ngukurr memory refreshers: John Bern, Jan Larbalestier, and Kate Senior

Fashion consultant: Janet Irving

Provider of space in which to write: Allen Haroothunian (Sydney) and Drink Me cafe (New York)

Supportive family: John Bern, Niki Bern, Jan Larbalestier, and Scott Westerfeld


What do you reckon? Is that preferable to this:


I’m very lucky to have such smart, incisive, hardworking editors as Liesa Abrams and Eloise Flood. Thank you. Thanks also to Andy Ball, Chris Grassi, Polly Watson, and Margaret Wright.

My first readers are eagle-eyed and amazing. Thank you, John Bern, Gwenda Bond, Pamela Freeman, Carrie Frye, Margo Lanagan, Jan Larbalestier, Karen Meisner, Sally O’Brien, Ron Serdiuk, Micole Sudberg, and Lili Wilkinson.

Thanks to John Bern, Jan Larbalestier, and Kate Senior for refreshing my memories of Jilkminggan and Ngukurr.

Janet Irving answered all my questions about fashion and fabrics. (If I still managed to get it wrong, blame me.)

Allen Haroothunian let me use his home in Camperdown (Sydney) to finish the first draft and the first round of rewrites. Much appreciated. Large chunks of the first draft were also written at Drink Me café (New York).

Lastly, to John Bern, Niki Bern, Jan Larbalestier, and Scott Westerfeld: you four make everything easier and more fun. Here’s to more good food and wine together.


Which is less annoying? Record your vote in the comments.


  1. scott on #

    I’m for door number 2. Call me old fashioned, but I like complete sentences. Plus, more information in the second one, so it tends to read less cryptic/insider jokey.

  2. JeremyT on #

    I’d prefer the second also. If there’s one place where I don’t mind reading, it’s inside a book, and there’s a more personal touch to number 2.

  3. Justine on #

    One of my editors just weighed in for number two as well.

  4. claire on #

    i never read acks unless i have a crush on the writer, in which case i want as much personal information as possible. so i guess i’d vote for #2. of course, i’ve already received an offer of marriage from you, so i feel i’m already in the in crowd. so if you went with #1, i’d expect you to list me under “offers of marriage conditionally refused during editing process.”

  5. Barry on #

    Number two, hands down! I guess I can see Emily G.’s point on the one hand, but to me it just feels petty. Actors get millions of opportunities to spout off their gratitude to any and all influnces; most authors never get another opportunity beyond their acknowledgements page. And you know, no one’s making anyone read it in the first place. Personally, I love the “insider” feel the ack page gives me.

  6. gwenda on #

    Yeah, I like two too. What I loved best about Emily G’s column was the idea of critiquing acknowledgements and I must, sort of shamefully, admit that it was one of my favorite catty reviews ever. I’d far rather read catty reviews of acknowledgements than books.

  7. Patrick Nielsen Hayden on #

    Neither. Publish the book. Include a gnomic dedication if you must.

    Late in life, publish a tell-all memoir of such flamboyant magnificence that it eclipses all your work thus far.

  8. Ray Davis on #

    Whatever the author feels like is OK with me.

  9. Ray Davis on #

    But no one will ever beat Kyle Baker’s “This book is dedicated to whoever I’m going out with now.”

  10. marrije on #

    Second option, definitely. But you’re sane and funny, not the um, slightly insane person emily g refers to. On second thought, even in that case i’d like an acknowledgements page in the second, wordy style. makes the insanity shine much more beautifully.

  11. Richard B. on #

    Option Number Two is the clear winner. It’s elementary, my dear, as we used to say back on Multiplication Rock.

  12. jonathan on #

    you’re way better than me. i’m just struggling to be sure that i don’t forget anyone. i don’t know how much they care, but i want to acknowledge people. i’ve not written a novel, but there are a bugger of a lot of people who help with an anthology.

  13. Stephanie Burgis on #

    I definitely vote for #2 — it’s personable, fun, and sucks me into the book right away. (Jennifer Crusie does that really well with her acknowledgements pages–they’re friendly, likable and fun to read even if you don’t know any of the people she’s talking about.)

  14. the eagle-eyed and amazing micole on #

    I do not feel that the first option properly conveys the magnificence of the people being thanked.

  15. David Moles on #

    If you do go with #1, you have to make up some obscure literary jobs with wacky names — you know, the equivalent of “key grip,” “gaffer,” and “best boy.”

    I also like Patrick’s tell-all memoir idea.

  16. Lauren McLaughlin on #

    I’m taking the minority opinion and going with option #1. Short, to the point, no extraneous linking words.

  17. Janni on #

    Either works for me, too. The first wasn’t a turnoff at all, at any rate.

  18. Jenny D on #

    In itself, I also actually like the first one better. But there’s much to be said for sticking with the usual format–it risks being a bit cutesy otherwise, I think. (But I wish everyone would switch to a credits-type listing…)

  19. shelly rae on #

    Definitely option two. It’s more personal–a real thank you as opposed to a list of credits.

  20. John Scalzi on #

    Number 2. Sentences complete good are.

  21. Kathryn Cramer on #

    I feel so naive. I thought acknowledgments were for finding out who really wrote ghost-written books.

  22. parker on #

    number 2. no question. and i’m all for an eggers style imprint page too.

  23. lewis on #

    I don’t like acks but if you must have one then let it be funny and
    I’d like to thank my father and mother: the latter for giving birth to
    me after the former had his way with her, when both were drunk, on a
    dark and stormy night. I’d also like to thank my first grade teacher,
    Miss Campbell, for reading stories to me. If not for her, I would never
    have become a professional scribbler.

  24. Tom Whitmore on #

    Since you didn’t fall into any of the excesses which Emily rails against, I prefer 2. It takes someone Really Good to manage humor in an acknowledgements page, like Sol Weinstein in the Oy Oy Seven books (over-the-top sexist humorous Jewish parodies of James Bond from the 60s/early 70s).

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