Whether you choose to take this step before or after drafting your book, learning how to write a book dedication is an important part of the publishing process.
Book dedications are one part of your book that every reader will likely see.
The dedication page comes before the first chapter, so as readers flip through to find chapter one, they’re bound to come across your dedication page. This means what you choose to include, and leave out, really matters. So, let’s talk about it.
How to write a book dedication: what’s covered
Definition of a book dedication
Your book dedication is where you bestow honor on a person or group of people in a short, concise manner. There are many important parts of a book, with your dedication page being one of the most important. You can learn how to write a book dedication in a few simple steps.
The process to follow
At some point in your process of learning how to write a book comes learning how to write a book dedication. Follow this process for guidance to help you write yours in a way that impacts your readers, as well as the person/group you dedicate your book to.
Choose your audience
Just as you must choose the audience you write your book to, you must choose who you intend to dedicate your book to.
Here are a few examples:
- Your family
- A specific family member
- Your partner
- Your readers
- Your writing mentor
- An individual who particularly inspired you
Once you choose who to dedicate your book to, it’s time to move on to step two.
While your acknowledgments section is where you can expand on those who supported you during the writing process, learning how to write a book dedication means writing as concisely as possible.
Tip: Choose your 10 favorite books and look through their dedication pages. Learning how to write a book dedication often happens best by reading what’s been done by authors you love.
Play around with various options
Countless readers will see your book dedication, so it’s important to feel confident with what you choose as your final draft. Try writing several dedications. Narrow these down to your top three examples. Give yourself a few days, and then choose your favorite of the three.
Types and tones
Writing your dedication is similar to learning how to write an epilogue. Just as your epilogue can have a serious, nostalgic, or hopeful tone, so can your book dedication. Your unique author voice should play a role in determining the type and tone of your dedication.
Part of learning how to write a book dedication is identifying your specific writing tone. If you write fantasy, you may want to be a bit more creative with your dedication.
If you write self-help nonfiction, consider being a bit more vulnerable. You can also incorporate humor into your dedication.
You may want to draw from the tone of your author bio when choosing the tone of your dedication page.
Consider the following: you write middle-grade science fiction and your bio goes something like this…
“John Smith is from another galaxy and brings his stories to life here on earth. He’s the bestselling author of three books, has a pet dog, and is on the lookout for a pet dragon.”
Let’s look at some real-life examples so you can see for yourself how to write a book dedication.
Time to dive into book dedication examples that worked. Humor is a helpful way to learn, so let’s start there.
Humor: House of Hades, Rick Riordan
“To my wonderful readers: Sorry about that last cliff-hanger. Well, no, not really. HAHAHAHA. But seriously, I love you guys.”House of Hades, Rick Riordan
Inspiring: The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and the Horse, Charlie Mackesy
“To you, the reader. Always remember you matter, and you bring to this world things no one else can.”The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and the Horse, Charlie Mackesy
Sentimental: Troubleshooting Your Novel, Steven James
“To my friend and Novel Writing Intensive co-instructor, Robert Dugoni, a great author, a great teacher, and a man of integrity and faith.”Troubleshooting Your Novel, Steven James
You can see that how you write a book dedication can take many forms. You may choose to dedicate a children’s book to readers, inspiring them with a single line. You could encourage a colleague in your nonfiction book on writing. You might joke with your readers and break that fourth wall.
Learning how to write a book dedication starts with choosing who you want to dedicate your book to. However, writing one well heavily relies on your natural tone: your proclivity to joke, inspire, or give honor to others, etc.
Things to avoid
Your dedication acts as a type of book introduction, setting the reader up for the type of storyteller you will be. Because of this, learning how to write a book dedication also includes knowing what to avoid.
Avoid empty clichés
Some phrases have been used so often that the meaning no longer impacts readers. Avoid sayings that feel cliché and will have little meaning. You worked hard to create original content for your book and avoid the stereotypical clichés. Make sure to spend the same care on your dedication.
Steer clear of typos
Yes, a book dedication is short. No, it’s not impossible to accidentally include a glaring typo in the final print. Be sure to run your dedication past numerous people before publishing. There’s nothing worse than misspelling someone’s name and not catching it until too late.
Refuse to be your own editor
In addition, it’s helpful to ask a professional editor to look at your dedication. They can pick up on nuances you may otherwise miss. They can also help make your intended message clear. Simply rearranging a few words can transform your dedication.
Never forget your tone
Often, it helps to keep your dedication on brand with the tone of your book. For instance, if you write a romantic comedy, your dedication could lean in this direction. If your novel is a tear-jerker, a comedic dedication may feel off color.
Consider Shannon Hale’s dedication in her novel, Austenland, “For Colin Firth: You’re a really great guy, but I’m married, so I think we should just be friends.”
Read her novel for a great example of how to write a book dedication in a tone that matches that of your book.
Your next step
Now that you know how to write a book dedication, it’s time to take your next step toward authorship. Your front cover initially draws readers to your book, and your dedication page should inspire them to turn to chapter one.
These two features work together, which is why I provide the free resource below.
You likely heard the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover.” But let’s be honest, most of us probably do. Take your cover to the next level and create the best one possible for your book.
This way, you can attract readers with your cover, grab their attention with your dedication, and entertain them with your story. Happy writing!