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I am a new author and I want to mention names of people who helped during my writing. Can I include Acknowledgement page in a novel?

I looked in many novels by famous authors and they don't seem to add Acknowledgement. (I am not talking about dedications.)

Additionally, are there any novels that include it?

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An acknowledgement page in novels usually appears in the end, rather than the beginning as you would see in scientific writings. There's one in Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel, there's one in Naomi Novik's Uprooted, there's one in Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and that's just off the top of my head. They're fairly common, at least nowadays (not sure about older books).

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Yes, you can, it is done often, and I see nothing wrong with them. Authors often spend years on a book, and it is normal human nature to thank the people that helped you through it.

People don't have to read it, of course, and I wouldn't worry about haters that don't like it, some people find fault with kindness and I don't get that.

Consider movie credits: They now acknowledge everybody that had anything to do with the film, including accountants, assistants, the janitorial staff. What does it cost them? A few frames of film? Not even that, a few megabytes of memory on disk, that's it.

I will agree that you should ask before you name somebody publicly. You can offer to give them a handle, like initials, or an initial for the last name. Leave them off if they don't want it.

Others do want it, sometimes agents and editors appreciate their contributions being credited. It doesn't diminish the work to credit other people for the help or insight they provided.

Many novels provide a "dedications", either in the front somewhere or as a separate page. This often acknowledges both personal and professional help.

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Acknowledgments that list about two or three pages of names have become an annoying fad that I would avoid.

Sam Sacks argues "Against Acknowledgments" in The New Yorker, because to him they diminish a book. Kate Messner warns in a blog post that you should "Think before you thank", because some help may have been given in the understanding that it would remain private.

Personally, acknowlegments feel like navel-gazing to me. Learning of the personal relationships of the author and the personal problems the author went through when she was writing her novel does satisfy my voyeuristic tendencies, but it also lessens my respect for the author that she cannot keep private matters private.

Eight years ago Nathan Bransford asked the readers of his blog how they feel about acknowlegments. If you want you can read through the 154 comments to learn what the consensus was. (Spoiler: Most find them okay.)

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    remain private: Well, sure. "This expose would not have been possible without the help of Colonel Fred Stover, who gave me illegal copies of thousands of top secret files." – Jay May 11 '18 at 18:58
  • @Jay How about: "My jealous wife didn't know I still meet with my ex, and now she mentions in her book that she has been seeing me." There are more reasons than illegal activities for some persons wanting to remain anonymous. I'm anonymous here although I have not commited a crime. I just don't want my name on the web. The argument is that you, as the author, shouldn't presume that everyone wants to be named in your book. Some may simply be ashamed to be listed in such drivel. – user29032 May 11 '18 at 19:39
  • Sure. I was just giving an extreme example. I'm sure reasons range from "I wouldn't want people to know I was involved in the scandalous activities discussed in this book" to "oh, please don't mention me, I'm embarassed when people mention my name in public". – Jay May 12 '18 at 6:57
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Yes, you can. They're quite common in self-published novels, so you might want to look there for more examples. They're at the end of the book and usually include supportive friends and family, but also professional help, e.g. scientists who helped the author research topics important to the story.

If you only have a short list of people that fits into a single paragraph, you might even get away with putting the Acknowledgements at the front. (The ebook version of Neal Asher's short story collection "The Gabble" does that.)

And like others have said before, ask before including somebody by name; some people might prefer to stay anonymous.

  • Welcome to Writing.SE Ira! Nice answer! If you have a moment, you may want to take the tour and visit the help center. Have fun! – White Eagle May 10 '18 at 16:03
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Acknowledgments, dedications and author's notes are not a part of the main text of a book, and they are entirely up to you (with some caveats). You don't need to match any particular standard, or do them the way anyone else does them, and you don't need anyone's permission to do them how you want (with some caveats).

Here are the caveats:

  1. They should not be part of your manuscript. Don't even mention them until after you have been offered a contract. They are considered an optional extra.
  2. Publishers don't tend to like them, because they take up room, and don't (in their eyes) add value to the book. The longer they are, the less the publisher will like them, so be prepared to advocate for them if you're thinking of anything more than a line or two. Especially if you're writing fiction, be prepared for the publisher to strongly suggest you just throw a couple of names in your dedication instead.

  3. If you aren't sure if someone will want to be acknowledged, ask first. Also, think twice before saying something like "thanks to X, whose entire life story I shamelessly ripped off for the plotline of this book."

The typical use of acknowledgments is when people have helped with research, which is more common in non-fiction, but not unheard of in fiction. On the other hand, some fiction writers prefer to hide little tributes to specific people in the text. That might be more gratifying to the recipient anyway.

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Yes, I've seen acknowledgements in novels, it's not uncommon.

Bear in mind that this is mostly a way to express gratitude to the people who helped you, putting their names in print. Readers other than the people you mention likely won't care. So keep it brief, like, "I'd like to thank my friend Sally Jones for proof-reading the manuscript. She had many helpful suggestions." And leave it at that. No one wants to read the story of How I Overcame All the Obstacles to Getting This Story Published. (Unless you have a really unusual and interesting story, I suppose.)

I'd avoid listing more than 3 or 4 people because that would get tedious.

Occasionally writers try to make the acknowledgements amusing in some way, because they have a tendency to be pretty dry.

On non-fiction, it's common to add a disclaimer like "Any remaining mistakes are, of course, my own responsibility". Probably mostly to avoid making it sound like you're just naming these people to share blame. I don't know if any such disclaimer would be appropriate in a novel.

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