And No. 2 Wins

There were many responses—thanks everyone—to my which-form-of-acknowledgments-should-I-go-with question, so rather than respond in the comments I’ll do it here. It’s my blog I can do it any way I want to. So, nyer.

I’m so thankful to the respondees that I’m thinking of adding an extra line to the acks:

And finally I’d like to thank Scott, Jeremyt, Claire, Barry, Gwenda, Ray Davis, Marrije, Richard b, Jonathan, Stephanie Burgis, the eagle-eyed and amazing Micole, David Moles, Shelly Rae, John Scalzi and Parker for telling me what form these acks should take, Janni for sitting on the fence, and Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Lauren and Jenny D for writing the dangerous minority opinion.

(For those of you wondering, nope, I have no idea who any of these people are. Honest.)

So, yes, being someone who always goes with popular opinion, I reckon it’ll be number two, and sand in the face to the dissenters Patrick, Lauren and Jenny D. Cause, you know, that’s what victorious marauding mobs do: they kick sand in dissenters’ faces. (Just close your eyes tight and you’ll be fine.)

Like Parker, I want both. The author’s acks for their gossip value, and also a credits page so you can figure out who designed the really cool dingbats, as well as who the coypeditor was (to either avoid or demand they copyedit all your future work). You do sometimes see editors and interior designers credited, but never copyeditors or publicists or proofreaders.

Jonathan writes: i’ve not written a novel, but there are a bugger of a lot of people who help with an anthology.

Speaking as someone who’s done both—there are a shitload more people you have to thank putting together an anthology than a novel. Relatively speaking writing a novel is a piece of cake.

In response to Patrick’s suggestion that I should: late in life, publish a tell-all memoir of such flamboyant magnificence that it eclipses all your work thus far.

I so don’t think so. Memoirs are hard work. You have to remember stuff and inadvertantly and advertantly (is that a word?) offend people, and get sued, hire lawyers, and, argh, no bloody way. I figure I’ll just keep my acks and dedications as fulsome as ever and if anyone feels like writing my memoir for me they can piece it together from aforesaid acks and deds. Piece of cake.

Gwenda wrote: 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.

You’re not saying that you’d rather read a catty review of acks than read a book, right? Cause that, Gwenda, is troubling. If you’re saying you enjoy catty reviews of acks over catty reviews of books, I’m with you. Unless the catty review is of a book I really really hated, or by an author I really hate, or by an ex (friend or lover) who was particularly mean to me, or by an English person (though not, Andrew, one from Nothern England), or someone who was once mean to any friend of mine ever, or by someone whose name is Rupert, Randy or Violet (I hate those names).

Those aside, reading a good vivisection of the acks page is indeed much more gratifying (except for the vague horror that perhaps you yourself have offended in just that way and could one day be on the receiving end of such an ack review). I very much enjoy a good mock of acceptance speeches and award ceremonies. “You love me! You love me! You really love me!” or how about, “I’d like to thank my agent, and God . . . ” You just have to adore the hierarchy in that little speech. Agent always comes first.

I confess that I have been obsessively reading, and yes, sometimes mocking, writer’s acks and deds for years. Ray Davis points to a wonderful dedication, Kyle Baker’s “This book is dedicated to whoever I’m going out with now.” I love it. I very much enjoy the good old “this book has been published despite the complete lack of support and obstacles put in my way by my family.” I’m paraphrasing several I’ve seen over the years. I giggle at certain over the top professions of love in the ack page. One stays with me. It appeared in an English language book, but is in a romance language and reads, “And to [name of beloved] I love you, so much, so much, so much!” And no the book was not a romance, it wasn’t even fiction, rather it was non-fiction of the driest kind.

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

Ah yes, all those books with this effusive ack: “This book would not exist without the research, editorial and all round amazing skills of [insert name]. Without you I’m nothing!”

Claire writes: 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.”

Claire, sweetie darling angel, if I thanked every single person who refused my offers of marriage while writing and editing my books, the acks would be longer than the damn book. So won’t happen. Sorry.


  1. Roger on #

    Books are written by ghosts? Surely not!

  2. Roger on #

    It sounds like you accept that your memoir would be “flamboyantly magnificent”! Coming it a bit strong, eh?

  3. jason erik lundberg on #

    I’m late to the party, but I belatedly agree with the second option as well. Though being a publisher, I wouldn’t mind seeing who typeset the book, and copyedited it, and all that stuff, because those folks never get mentioned, and they do a helluva lot of work.

  4. Justine on #

    Roger: Well, of course, any memoir of mine would be fabulous. What could be more riveting than the life of an ex-academic writer?

    You’re not a Georgette Heyer fan, are you?

  5. Patrick Nielsen Hayden on #

    “Memoirs are hard work. You have to remember stuff”

    Who said anything about remembering? Make it up!

    “and inadvertantly and advertantly (is that a word?) offend people, and get sued, hire lawyers, and, argh”

    That’s where the “late in life” part comes in particularly handy.

  6. Justine on #

    Patrick: I’m an ex-historian. The very suggestion of making things up (in a non-fiction genre) makes my blood run cold. The utter, utter horror!

    But how do you know when it’s “late in life”? What if you publish the memoir at 90 but then manage to live to 115? And those last 25 years are spent fighting it out in court rooms, getting broker and broker, eventually being forced to reside in a paper box under the court room stairs. I repeat: the utter, utter horror!

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