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:
Friends who helped me brainstorm/critique
Co-workers who critiqued/encouraged
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!