What Is A Book Dedication?
A book dedication is simply a device that some authors use to bestow a very high honor on a person (or small group of people) they want to praise or otherwise spotlight. It is not fundamentally different than dedicating anything, like a ship or a monument.
This proclamation usually goes on the dedication page, which is usually in the very front of the book, after the Title page.
Who Can An Author Dedicate Their Book To?
In contrast to an acknowledgments section, a dedication section is short and usually focused on one person (or specific group of people). It is usually personal, rather than professional, and not everyone who contributed to the book?s creation needs be included (again, that goes in the book acknowledgments section).
Here are some categories of people that are common focuses of a book dedication:
- Family members (spouse, children, siblings, parents)
- Close friends
- People impacted by the book or featured in it
- The readers of the book
- Inspirational or supportive figures in one?s life
- People the author believes should be highlighted in some way
Do You Need To Dedicate Your Book?
No. Most authors do dedicate their books, but it is not required or mandatory.
How To Dedicate Your Book
1. Decide Who Will Be The Focus ? A Child, A Friend, Or Someone Else
Think about the people you want to dedicate this work to. Many people write their book dedication to a child or dedicate their book to a friend who has impacted their creative process. There?s no magic formula, and you don?t have to get everyone in there. This should be short and sweet, and there are no wrong answers. You are expressing a personal sentiment, so only you can decide who you want to dedicate this to.
The worst thing you can do is get stuck on it. Either do it or don?t. And if you do decide to have one, don?t fret over who it should be for. You probably know. Go with your gut. Anyone you leave out can be thanked in the book acknowledgments section.
2. Remember That Everyone Who Reads The Book Will See This
As the dedication is at the beginning of a book, many of the readers will read it and be influenced by it. Think not just about the person or people named in the book dedication, but also about all of the readers who will pass by this page and be impacted. Make a conscious choice about what you want that impact to be (if any).
When in doubt, follow the same best practices that apply when you editing your book.
3. Review Book Dedication Examples
Almost every book has a dedication, so you can find endless examples. Here are few book dedication quotes I picked at random:
George R. R. Martin, who wrote the Game Of Thrones series, has a dedication in A Song of Ice and Fire that is pretty cool:
For Phyllis, who made me put the dragons in.
This concise line holds enormous depth for both the readers and the person mentioned. If you?ve read the books or seen Game of Thrones, you?d know that dragons and the fantasy world they represent were a big part of the appeal. To imagine the book without them would be nearly impossible. Phyllis clearly played a big role in the creation of this piece.
Here?s the dedication that C. S. Lewis wrote to his goddaughter in a book I loved, 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 someday 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
This book was listed as one of TIME Magazine?s Top 100 Novels ever written, and yet he wrote it for his goddaughter. This dedication is cool because it gives real depth to the book and the author before you even dive in.
JT McCormick, in his book I Got There, goes pretty long on his dedication. This is about as long as it can get before it?s just an Acknowledgments in disguise:
To my mom, Anna: There are no words that can express how I feel, and I?ll always thank the Lord you made me.
All my childhood memories are full of all the sweet things you did for me. I appreciate how you raised me and all the extra love that you gave me.
When I was sick as a little kid, to keep me happy, there were no limits to the things you did.
I finally understand for a woman, it ain?t easy trying to raise a man. You were always committed, a poor single mother on welfare ? no clue how you did it.
There?s NO way I can pay you back, and I?ll never fully understand, but I want you to know YOU raised a good man.
I love you, Mom. You are appreciated.
To my wife, Megan, who?s always accepted me for me and supported my hustle, drive, and ambition: you are and always will be my perfect wife and mother to our children.
To my children, Danielle, Ava, Jaxon, and Elle and my great-great-great-great-grandchildren who I will never have the pleasure of meeting: I want you to know where you came from.
The book is a memoir about his ascent from the ghetto to the boardroom, and thus the hip-hop lyrics are relevant to the story. He also mentions his wife and children, as is common for dedications. This is a longer dedication, due to the stylistic choice to quote the rap song, but it also sets the tone and primes the reader for the story to come.
This next example is a short-and-sweet dedication from a book I co-wrote with Dr. Geoffrey Miller:
To our 17-year-old former selves, and to Bishop, Atalanta, and all the sons and daughters who deserve the great relationships we want for them.
4. Go Forth And Write Your Book Dedication
The number one thing to keep in mind is that there is NO specific formula for this. The dedication is one of the most personal sections in the book, and it?s up to you to decide how you want to use it.
What?s inside of your book is more important, and getting it out into the world is the MOST important thing.
Have you stalled writing your book?
You have plenty of ideas you want to put into your book, but can?t find the time. Or maybe you?re frustrated with the writing process. When you seek advice, people tell you, ?It?s all about discipline.?
But that doesn?t help you actually write your book. So you never finish your book, and the community you seek to impact never gets the benefits of your wisdom, and you don?t get the benefits of being a published author.
There?s an easier way ? my new book, The Scribe Method: The Best Way to Write and Publish Your Non-Fiction Book. Get your digital copy of the book for free, and start writing.