Acknowledgements are the (optional, but pretty typical) part of a book where an author thanks friends, family, their agent, editors, and anyone else who they want to shout out for their help in making the book a reality. Sometimes authors add a religious or spiritual shout out or a thank you to their readers, too.
It’s the one place in a book where authors finally get the freedom to be personal, unhampered, and often a little weird. One of my favorite examples of this is in the acknowledgements of the Twilight books, where author Stephenie Meyer would list the bands she listened to while she wrote. Muse always got a mention, which I remember because that’s why I started listening to Muse!
I always read the acknowledgements section very carefully, even if I hated the book. In fact, when a book doesn’t have acknowledgements, it disturbs me a little bit. Reading the acknowledgements (which are almost always at the end of a book) is part of my ritual for coming down from the intense experience of reading.
Acknowledgements also help me to understand connections between authors, agents, editors, and publishers. Authors usually thank their critique group in the acknowledgements, which often includes other published authors. I like paying attention to who’s close with whom, since sometimes you learn interesting things. (Some authors, like Holly Black, include Easter eggs in their books that reference author friends and their work. It’s fun to be able to recognize those Easter eggs!)
Finally, I’m working on my own fiction, so if a book really resonates with me and my style, I’ll also make a note of that author’s agent and publisher in case it helps me when I query later on.
Acknowledgements are like an Oscars acceptance speech, but way quieter and more shy. And just like an Oscars acceptance speech, they’re always a fun glimpse into the “backstage” of an author’s life.
But I know not everyone cares as much about acknowledgements as I do, so now I’m curious: Do you read the acknowledgements? If so, why? Is it for the same reasons I do, or are there other compelling reasons I’m missing? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments!