Monday, April 25, 2011

I'd like to thank....

Several weeks ago, I was talking to Robin Caroll, and she asked if I had seen a recent interview she’d done. I hadn’t, but knew there was something there I was supposed to see, so of course I found the interview. The interviewer asked Robin where she’d gotten the idea for In the Shadow of Evil. Robin gave this very detailed account of how she and I brainstormed a story idea on the phone a year or so ago.

I’ve been mentioned a handful of times for helping brainstorm a book, and it’s really cool to see my name in the acknowledgements. But then I got to thinking. How do authors keep up with all the people involved with putting a story together? How do they remember who to thank? And, gasp, what do they do when they leave somebody out?????

So, of course I asked the Seekers and Robin to give us some pointers on getting ALL our acknowledgments in there when the times comes. Because we all know that some of our manuscripts have been written a while before they see the light of day.

Ruth Logan Herne says she keeps a word file in the folder of the book she’s working on.

Ruthy mentioned her most recent book, Reunited Hearts. For this book, she has a word document called "Acknowledgements" and listed in it are the nice Lt. Commander from MIT who helped her guide Trent's education and military lines, promotions, etc. And the doctor from Golisano Children's Hospital that helped her plot out Cory's heart condition.

And the people from Ronald McDonald house who gave her a tour.

And then the friends who inspired this book, a young man's career at West Point.

Ruthy continues, “I also jot down incidental things, and if there's a Seeker who helped or read the book I single them out and add in a general thanks to all of you. In Mended Hearts, I give a shout out to wonderful teachers I've known, the kind that go the distance. But the file helps me a lot if I REMEMBER to jot stuff down, LOL!”

And Debby Giusti reminds us, “One word of caution. Ask those you plan to mention in the acknowledgements if you may use their names. Not family members or friends who are writers, but other folks--say law enforcement personnel you interviewed or a doctor who provided information--may not want their names in print. So, ask first.”

Thanks, Debby. That’s good, sound advice. Everybody got that???

Also, don’t just keep records of friends, family, and other professionals who help put your book together. Make notes of various editors who work on the project with you. Editors change, move on. Another one takes their place. If you've had two or three editors over the course of a project, it never hurts to mention all of them.

Julie Lessman is no slacker in the acknowledgments department. Shucks, I don’t know any area Julie doesn’t shine in! lol “Acknowledgements are HUGE to me.”

If your copy editor doesn’t ask for dedications or acknowledgement copy, ask for the deadline that they need the information. Better safe, than sorry. I know you’ll want to thank everyone, especially in your first book.

Julie learned the hard way that dedications go in the front of the book, generally to one person, then the acknowledgements can be everybody else, listed at the back of the book in some cases. Other publishers place acknowledgments in the front of the book, but as Julie says, dedications and acknowledgments are slightly different, even though I’ve seen some books that don’t have one or the other, or either. Maybe they just didn’t make the deadline, Julie! I’ve also seen books where the dedication and acknowledgement are lumped together. It varies, but generally, you do have the opportunity to acknowledge and thank people.

“I'm one of those gals that includes EVERYBODY but the garbage man, which is a ton of people since I'm from a big family,” Julie continues. “Basically, I include most of my family and anybody who helped me brainstorm, critique, pray, etc. I even include the winners from my newsletter contest where reader friends can have a character named after them. Two characters in AHU were the top two winners in my last contest, so naturally I thanked them as well in the acknowledgements.”

Julie provided this great list to check off when preparing acknowledgments:

Artist/copy editor/folks
Friends who helped me brainstorm/critique
Co-workers who critiqued/encouraged
Prayer partners
Extended family: Mother, father, in-laws, brothers, sisters-in-law,

Cheryl Wyatt cautions, “Since the books release at least 1-2 years after they're written & contracted, it's impossible for me to recall by memory every person who helped brainstorm or contributed research assistance to the book. I use Gmail and have a Label that I specifically use for remembering acknowledgements. The file is aptly named ACKNOWLEDGE!!! and definitely has three exclamation points because I'm afraid of forgetting someone. Sadly, I have, so when that happens I've acknowledged them in the next book or else name a character after them, or let them choose a name for one of my main characters. Thankfully it doesn't happen often. When I go to turn in my dedication and acknowledgement list to my editor, I pull up that file and take names.

Dedications are hard because I'm always afraid I won't contract another book. LOL! So I cram as many names in there as I can. If something has happened during the writing of the book, or if the book was inspired by someone, I definitely dedicate it to them.”

Thanks, Cheryl, for ideas on what to do if we make a BIG boo-boo and leave someone out. I might have to remember that!

And, since Robin inspired this post, I asked her advice on getting the acknowledgments just right. Here’s what she had to say. “When I'm brainstorming a plot, character, and everything in between, I make handwritten notes on various pages of paper. These usually contain who I'm brainstorming with, their thoughts/suggestions, and questions I need to ask for the book. I scan those notes into my OneNote folder. As I'm actually writing the book, I put all email correspondence in a file. When the book is turned in, revised, and edited and it's time for my acknowledgments, I go back through my files. I pull out who helped me with my brainstorming/plotting, then my research correspondence. These are people I know I want to thank.

My biggest boo-boo was in Deliver Us From Evil. I'd remembered to thank my editor, agent, crit partners, etc., but I failed to thank the then-marketing director of my publisher's fiction line, Julie Gwinn. She made a joke about that at ACFW that year and I was mortified I failed to thank Julie. This is why I now keep notes of every person who helps me throughout the entire process!!!!!!!!!

Thanks Debby, Robin, Cheryl, Julie, and Ruthy (hope I didn’t forget anyone!!) for the tips on making our acknowledgements shine.

Folders, sticky notes, Word files, or even an excel spreadsheet, whatever your method, make sure you remember to thank all the people who helped you get to where you are!

So, everybody, share your tips for keeping up with acknowledgments. And if you’ve ever forgotten to acknowledge a person or a group, today’s your chance to say thank you!


Cathy Shouse said...

This is interesting. I would think there would be limited space and thanking everyone would not be possible. So many people help.

I honestly never would dream the publicist hired by the publisher would be thanked, unless they did something highly unusual.

Thanking the helpers outside the industry, such as experts and firefighters would be a given.

I sent out many thank you notes when working on my book. I was given a handful of free copies and presented them to those who helped the most, although they were thanked in the book, too.

Patty said...

Good Monday morning to everyone! Hope your Easter was a blessed one!

I have to admit that in the excitement of my first book, I didn't ask about the acknowledgement page. To be honest, I barely had the chance to dedicate the book to my husband. So while I didn't mention my writing friends(which I hope to do in the next books--fingers crossed!) my Dear Reader letter acknowledge the women who made my book a possiblity--the WASPs. I pray everyone who has helped me would forgive me this slip-up. It's something I've worried about in the last few weeks because it took more than me to write this book and these lovely people need to know that I feel blessed to have them in my life.

I'm leaving some hot chocolate and blueberry muffins out for everyone.


Helen Gray said...

Patty's hot chocolate and muffins need coffee to go with them, so here it is.

Some real food for thought here for those of us not published.



Martha A. said...

I am a reader and I love reading the acknowledgments and how they learned the info, the research they did. It makes the book mean so much more, even if it is fiction!

Delia Latham said...

Great information!

Virginia said...

Such an important part of the writing process! We like to think about dedications, but maybe not acknowledgements... Easier to say how we're gifting this, but harder to remember all the people who helped.
Great post!

Virginia said...

Cathy, your free books as thank yous makes me think of the times I've received only one copy of an article that was published, and isn't available online - and I usually send it to the person who gave me the best quote or the most information, as a thank you.

Camy Tang said...

Good post, Pam! And a good reminder to keep a list of people to thank. I always forget!

KC Frantzen said...

Thanks Pam - great info and suggestions from you and the "gang" today. May and I like your ending THANK YOU four-footers!

I started an Excel page awhile back and have hopefully captured all the info. Good point Debby - about asking permission. I need to re-check my list and see if there is anyone I should ask.

My list is lengthy and divided into sections, with Seekerville holding a prominent place. Y'all are so special in my life and this book wouldn't be happening without you!

The countdown continues - still sometime this summer!!!

Have a wonderful week everyone. Thanks for the muffins, hot chocolate and coffee too. Yum!

Sherrinda said...

Excellent post. I find that if I don't thank someone immediately, then I forget. It's not that I'm not thankful, but I just get distracted easily. Not a good excuse, I know, but I am trying to overcome that flaw.

Kirsten Arnold said...

Great post, Pam, and something I never really thought about. I guess I always thought I'd remember everyone who helped me on a book, but it makes sense that when the time comes someone may slip through the cracks. And with my luck it would be someone important.
Super idea to keep a file for each ms with all those who helped make it possible.


Loves 2 Read Romance - Laura said...

What a great topic! I love to read the acknowledgments and dedications. It gives readers a sense of how much love, work, research, etc... went into the story they are about to enjoy. I love the fact that many authors also include thanks to their fans & readers! I remember that when I saw that the fans where thanked in the 7th Harry Potter book I started to cry because I knew that it was the end of a magically journey. So to all of you wonderful authors THANK YOU!! For sharing not only your wonderful stories but taking the time to meet with fans and hold contests and blogs and chat with us!!

Audra Harders said...

Good morning and I hope everyone had a blessed Easter!

Good, good reminder Pam to thank the folks who helped you get where you are.

When I sold Rocky Mountain Hero, I received a list of items I needed to include in the final submission.

I'd heard so much about Book Club questions and Dear Reader letters, I kept files running on both those thoughts.

I when I saw Dedication and Acknowledgments, my mind went blank. There were soooooooo many people that helped me achieve my dream of publishing my first book, how in the world did I mention them all??

I thumbed through the dedication pages of various Seeker books (would else would I turn to?) and moaned each time I read someone's dedication that reminded me I'd forgotten someone else!!!

I'm surprised LI didn't scrunch my type down to teeeny to get everyone in, LOL!

Word of advice for that debut book, start thinking of acknowledgements and dedications NOW! When you make your first sale, your mind it too scrambled to think clearly and you certainly do want to thank everyone who helped you.

I'm just filling my coffee cup this morning. Had waaaaay too much food at Easter brunch yesterday. Haven't a clue what pair of jeans I'll squeeze into this morning for work!!

Melanie Dickerson said...

Writing the Acknowledgments page for The Healer's Apprentice was actually very fun. I thought, Hey, I can thank anybody I want, just because!!! LOL! So I tried to thank all the people who had encouraged and helped me along the journey.

Right now I need to be writing down all the people I want to acknowledge in my second book, The Merchant's Daughter. I would never want to leave anyone out. And this is a good reminder to me to thank the marketing director and my publicist! When I wrote the acknowledgments for my first book, I didn't yet have a publicist, but I should have thanked the marketing person who'd been helping me, but that slipped right by me. Oops.

Acknowledgments are the fun part.

Janet Dean said...

Excellent post, Pam. Though now I'm feeling stingy with praise. I have a slightly different take on thanking people. I don't mention my editor or agent or any one person with each book. I dedicate the book to different groups or individuals, but not all of them every time. Like Cathy, I like to give copies of my book to those who helped along the way. I will think more on this.


Missy Tippens said...

Great post, Pam! I just had a moment of horror the other day when I realized I had forgotten someone on the book that just came out!! I do keep a file but somehow her name never got put in there.

So thank you, Lisa Mondello, for asking your cop hubby questions that helped with my research!! And thank you to your husband as well!

Julie Hilton Steele said...

I have been blessed to have a book dedicated to me by a friend who writes for LI. She didn't tell me so I had to start reading the book to find out. Surprise!

I bring that up because I wholeheartedly agree with Cathy about the thank you notes along the way and the giving of books. If you don't write the thanks as you go along, there will be a mountain at the end.

I am wondering though about the experts and other folks who are in the dedications and cknowledgments who may not read your book or the genre.

Is there a "I dedicated a book/acknowledged you" card at Hallmark for after the publication? ;-) Do you let folks know about that or just thank them as you go along?

And I would just like to thank all at Seekerville who have made me think, helped me escape, and just prayed me up!

Peace, Julie

Lisa Jordan said...

With my debut novel coming out in November, I've already started compiling those acknowledgements. I do a combo of Ruthy's and Cheryl's methods. I have a Word file for each novel and I have an email folder for each book that includes answered questions, help from crit friends, etc. I've already planned to gift those who helped with the research and critiquing a free novel as a thank you.

Audra, thanks for mentioning you received a final list of things to submit. Since I'm a new LI author, I wondered when they'd ask for stuff like that.

Great post, Pam.

Erica Vetsch said...

Thank you for all the great ideas on how to organize dedications/acknowledgements.

There are so many people who go into bringing a book together.

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, Pammy, GREAT POST, because courtesies are important and all too often go by the wayside in today's world.

I was raised to send thank you notes for everything, which I still try to do, although now a lot of them are e-notes!!

Like Cathy and Janet mentioned, I aways send a complimentary book to anyone I put into the acknowledgments, but I am surprised at how many don't read them!! To me, it's a wonderful glimpse into the author and the book, but not everybody takes the time to read them at the end of the book. Case in point: I thanked three dear friends in the acknowledgments who were a huge support to me at book signings, etc. I never noticed that I'd never heard back from them until about two years later, when one of them lent my book to her sister to read and her sister pointed out she was in the acknowledgments. I immediately got a call from her, SHOCKED her name was in the book and thanking me profusely. A definite case of better late than never!!

I have to admit, I literally SUFFER when I forget to thank someone and am STILL suffering (whenever I think of it) for forgetting to thank the Seekers at ACFW when I won the Debut Book of the Year. I didn't write a speech because I never expected to win, and when I did, I just rambled and was lucky I got my editor and agent in there!! But if ever I wanted to acknowledge the Seekers, it was then, and I deeply regret forgetting to do so.


Pam Hillman said...

Good morning all! I'm at the day job today, but will comment when I can.

Helen, pass the coffee, and some toothpicks to pry my eyes open!

Melanie Dickerson said...

I'm sure they forgive you, Julie!!! So now you have to forgive yourself. ;-)


Nancy Kimball said...

Great post Pam!
I had no idea there was such a thing as an acknowledgment page, so I will start keeping my list now.
I'd like to get an early start and say thanks to Mary Connealy for her one encouraging comment here on Seekerville that inspired me to keep pushing forward with Chasing the Lion.
And to Larry K, who explained that not only is it possible to kill a charging lion with a stick, but spent a half hour explaining how.
And my 7th grade English teacher Mr. James. You were wrong. My writing isn't worthless. Not now, and I'm beginning to think it wasn't back then either.

Casey said...

I LOVE the acknowledgements. I almost always read them in books and when I wrote my first WIP, I was so thankful for the help I was given (mainly in support) that I had to write an acknowledgement of my own. It was one of the most fun parts of the writing process for that book. I will say that is what I look forward to the most someday. :)

Lorna Faith said...

thanks for the reminders...great advice!


Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Thanks for the wonderful post Pam!

I never thought of what Debby said about some people not wanting to be mentioned.

As always, the seekers cover everything :)

Debby Giusti said...

Pam, great topic and one that hasn't been blogged about before...and we know coming up with fresh ideas can be tough since we've had over 1200 blog posts in Seekerville so far.

Did I get that stat right, Tina?

Whenever I went to the grocery story before I published, I checked out the acknowledgment and dedication pages of the suspense books on the shelves. I kept a small notebook in my purse and jotted day the name of agents the various authors had thanked.

Before long, I noticed some of the same names being thanked over and over. Those agents were making sales, which was what I wanted. Also, since the author had thanked them publically, the agents must have been easy to work with and as asset to the writer.

In the same way, I learned which editors were buying the type of book I wanted to write.

Moral of the story? You can learn a lot from acknowledgements and dedications.

Debby Giusti said...

Julie H Steel!

Thanks for your thank-you to Seekerville!


Ruth Logan Herne said...

I was here earlier and had to bug out.

Think "Top Gun" although around here bug out COULD mean being taken over by large, multi-legged creatures.

Pam, since I am the queen of messing up acknowledgements AND dedications...


Oh my stars, I will never live these things down...

And I always leave out SOME VERY VITAL PERSON.


Even with the Word doc open.

BUT.... I brought home-made crepes and EVEN found a recipe for a crepe torte...

Very interesting! ;)

Pam, thanks for sharing the tips AND thanks to Robin too...

If the world at large knew how good Pam is at brainstorming, plotstorming, seeing 'beyond' the norm and pulling those threads together.

Amazing talent, Pammers!

Vince said...

Hi Pam:

I consider ‘dedications’ and ‘acknowledgements’ to be reader rewards.

I love it when the author dedicates her book to her ‘hero’ and wonderful loving husband.

Somehow this makes me think the author knows what she is talking about. However, one author wrote this:

“To my lover and my husband.”

To which I wrote her and asked if they were two different people. She was scandalized and wrote a long letter back to me assuring me she was a good Christian woman and they were one in the same!

I consider acknowledgements to be very important and I strongly believe that they should be in the front of the book. I even suggest that if an author does not have any expert acknowledgements, that she go out and get some.

It means a lot to a reader to know that the author’s book on the Army’s CID was researched with a professional in the field. Especially one who will let his or her name be used in the acknowledgement. Otherwise, the reader cannot be sure that the author is getting her facts right and thus cannot feel good about learning new information along with the reading enjoyment.

Always dedicate a book and always give acknowledgements.

No dedication seems to indicate that the author has no friends or loved ones. Not a good sign for a romance writer.

No acknowledgements, even if the author is an RN herself writing a Medical Romance, makes me think the author thinks she knows it all. This is also not endearing.

In all my reading, I think Missy is the Queen of Dedications and Aknowledgements. : )


Linnette R Mullin said...

I haven't started it yet, but my plan is to open a word doc and put in every person who helped and how they helped.

Missy Tippens said...

Vince, thank you! I agonize over it. :)

For my first book, it was too long. My editor wrote tell me it has to fit on one page. LOL So I had to shorten each one. About broke my heart! :)

Michelle said...

Thanks for the post! I second the fact that it is great information for those of us not published yet. I belive that it is important to thank people for their help, but I never thought that I might need to keep track for a later date!

Cara Lynn James said...

Pam, if I don't keep a list I forget everyone I should thank. The dedication is easy though. I always have trouble trying to remember all the Thomas Nelson people I want to acknowledge because there are so many of them who contribute to a book.

Missy Tippens said...

I used to use OneNote for Windows. Now have a Mac, so use the notebook view on Word. And I make a tab that's for acknowledgements. As soon as someone helps me, I got right to it so I don't forget.

I second what someone else said. Always ask the person if you can thank them publicly. They may not want you to for any number of reasons.

Faye said...

Sometimes our human brains can only remember so much. *sigh*
remembering who to thank is so important.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I love Nancy Kimball.

I'm just sayin'....

Vince, you're such a dear! I love those suppositions and probably think the very same thing, LOL!

I just think it's a hoot that my family PORES over these things to see who I love best.

Which is fairly useless since I'm not all that fond of the lot of 'em.


Nancy Kimball said...

Thank you Ruth! The more I get to know the ladies of Seekerville and the friends of Seekerville, the more I'm blessed by it.

Otherwise how will I learn things like I need to keep track of who to thank in my acknowledgment page. I've certainly never come across that in the craft books I've been tearing my way through like a teenager with an itunes giftcard. I love this blog!!!

CatMom said...

Great post, Pam! Thank you for sharing this important information.~ I was thrilled when sweet Cheryl Wyatt listed my nephew's name (and mine) in her acknowledgement section of one of her wonderful books. Although all I'd done was "relay information" from my Air Force nephew to Cheryl, but she was very appreciative. (And of course my nephew and I both felt like celebrities *grin*). ~ Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo :)

Andrea Strong said...

I have a running list in my brain of acknowledgments...hopefully it doesn't run too far before I finish the book. ;)

Great Post, Pam!

Patty Smith Hall said...

I just wanted to add to my early morning comment--

Although I don't have an acknowledgement page in the book coming out, I did write thank you notes to everyone just after they helped me. I know that's not the same thing, but at least, it was something.

I may be a smuck at times, but I try to be a thankful one.


Pam Hillman said...

Sorry I was AWOL today everybody. Busy, busy day, but aren't Monday's mostly like that?

Great discussion about acknowlegments.

Sounds like it would be fun to write one now for books that haven't sold, then add editors, publicists later.

Just dreaming ahead of time, huh?

Hope everyone has a safe night free of stormy weather!

Walt Mussell said...

My thank you list could be longer than my book.

Vince said...

Hi Ruth:

"I just think it's a hoot that my family PORES over these things to see who I love best. Which is fairly useless since I'm not all that fond of the lot of 'em."

Do you think your family reads your posts?

BTW: I once read an ‘un-dedication’ that went something like this:

“To my husband who fought me every step of the way, never offered any encouragement, and insisted that no one would ever publish my scribbling.”

It was a travel book and not a romance.


Martha Ramirez said...

Very awesome post. I always jot down names of people who help me in the process.

These are great tips! Thanks for sharing.

Rita Monette, Writer said...

Thanks Pam. I never thought about keeping a file. Guess I figured I'd retain it all in memory. What was I thinking?? Off to start a file now!!!

apple blossom said...

Thanks for sharing