How to Write a Book Dedication
What Is a Book Dedication?
A book dedication is a message from the author to the reader, typically found at the beginning of a book.
It’s a heartfelt way to show appreciation to a person or a group of people for their encouragement, support and inspiration in the process of creation of a book.
Books are typically dedicated to a spouse, the author’s children, parents, other relatives, special friends, mentors, and even the author’s readers.
A dedication should be brief, no more than a short paragraph or two, and it should carry emotional weight.
7 Steps to Write a Good Book Dedication
Although there’s no single formula for writing a book dedication, and they can vary wildly from author to author, there are some steps you can follow to help you get to the finish line a bit more methodically.
Here are the 7 steps to writing a good book dedication:
1. Read Lots of Dedications!
Since there’s no point in reinventing the wheel, go to your personal library (or a public one), open every book you can get your hands on in the same area or genre you’re writing about and read lots of dedications.
The goal here is not to copycat or even find inspiration in them, but to develop a sense of what to say and what not to say.
For example a dedication is not an acknowledgement. You should definitely thank your editor in your acknowledgements for taking your book to the next level, but this shouldn’t be a part of your dedication (unless, of course, you want to specifically dedicate your book to your editor.)
After you read a few dedications from published books, the perfect language will begin to emerge.
2. Select the Target of Your Affection
Now it’s time to choose whom your dedication will be addressed to. Here you want to focus your attention on a single person or a group of people.
What you don’t want to do is to dedicate your book to multiple unrelated groups of people — like trying to kill three or four birds with one stone.
A good dedication needs to be highly targeted and also heartfelt, so pick the one individual or one group of related people (e.g. parents, mentor, spouse, spouse and kids, etc.) who was the most instrumental in encouraging you to create your book.
Another approach is to choose an aspect of your audience that shows inclusivity through a shared experience. For example, something like “To everyone who has ever felt left out or alone.”
3. Be Specific
As an extension to step 2, don’t just do general dedications like “To my readers” or “To humanity” — instead, dedicate the book to someone or something specific.
For example, if you’re dedicating your book to your target audience, you could say something like “To those brave souls who overcame the struggles of drug addiction to reclaim their lives”
4. Craft a Heartfelt Message
Memorable book dedications need to be heartfelt, not milquetoast. It’s better to be vulnerable and speak from the heart than to show restraint and be predictable and formulaic.
So, “To my parents” should be expanded to explain what it is they did to inspire you/encourage you/etc. to bring your book to life. For example, “To my parents who taught me how to persist in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges.”
5. Be Brief
Keep it brief. A dedication should be short and sweet, no more than a paragraph or two. In fact, the shorter and more memorable, the better.
6. Avoid Cheesy Platitudes
Steer clear of trite phrases like “Thank you for being part of my journey” or “This book is just for you!” Be genuine in your words and avoid sounding too corny or insincere.
Finally, make sure to proofread your dedication no less than three times through different eyes before sending your book off to the printer — there’s nothing worse than finding a glaring typo before your book even begins!
What Are Some Examples of Book Dedications?
Now that you know what it takes to write a good book dedication, let’s take a look at some examples from popular authors for reference:
“For Grandma, who showed me there can be light in the darkness” — The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
“For Steve, who sees. And for Anne, who believes” — Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
“For my mom and dad, who taught me about dreams and how to catch them” — The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon
“This book is dedicated to all the World-Class Shower Uppers I’ve met in my life who continue to inspire me” — Showing Up for Life by Bill Gates Sr. with Mary Ann Mackin
“To the women who raised me — My maternal Grandmother, Tutu, who’s been a rock of stability throughout my life, and my Mother, whose loving spirit sustains me still” — The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
No matter how big or small your book project is, a book dedication is an important way for you to express your appreciation to those key people who helped you on your journey.
A good book dedication should be brief yet meaningful, conveying your heartfelt gratitude in just a few words.
By following the above seven steps and taking the time to craft your book dedication carefully, you’ll be able to create language that touches readers and honors those who helped you make your book a reality.
Harry Wallett is the Managing Director of Cascadia Author Services. He has a decade of experience as the Founder and Managing Director of Relay Publishing, which has sold over 3 million copies of books in all genres for its authors, and looks after a team of 50+ industry professionals working across the world.
Harry is inspired by the process of book creation and is passionate about the stories and characters behind the prose. He loves working with the writers and has shepherded 1000s of titles to publication over the years. He knows first-hand what it takes to not only create an unputdownable book, but also how to get it into the hands of the right readers for success.
Books are still one of the most powerful mediums to communicate ideas and establish indisputable authority in a field, boosting your reach and stature. But publishing isn’t a quick and easy process—nor should it be, or everyone would do it!
A professional grade book takes 250+ individual tasks to complete. Cascadia is an expert in every single one of them. Do you want to harness our expertise to launch your book into the stratosphere? Chat with us!