Have you penned a masterpiece? As part of this masterpiece, do you want to include a book dedication? A book dedication is a message of gratitude from the author to the person or people who have supported them on their journey. It’s a way to thank the people who have supported you emotionally and it’s one of the most creative ways to honor someone.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Step 1: Decide Who You Are Dedicating Your Book To
- Step 2: Look to Other Authors’ Dedication Pages for Inspiration
- Step 3: Stay On Brand
- Step 4: Protect the Recipient’s Privacy
- Step 5: Pay Homage to the Relationship You Have with the Recipient
- Step 6: Listen to Your Gut
- Book Dedication Examples
What should you include in your book dedication page? We break down the process of how to write a dedication and provide some examples.
Step 1: Decide Who You Are Dedicating Your Book To
Most dedications are for people who have a personal connection to the author. Most authors save the dedication page for family members, close friends, or even teachers.
- Did you have a teacher who encouraged your interest in writing at a young age? That might stick with you.
- Was your best friend your first and most enthusiastic reader of early drafts? She might be on your mind.
- Did your children inspire you and your spouse supported you? You may want to share the credit with them.
Some people thank a few people for their dedication. But generally speaking, the dedication should be kept to a single person or a very small group of people. That way the presence of many people doesn’t dilute the place of honor.
Step 2: Look to Other Authors’ Dedication Pages for Inspiration
Many writers are also avid readers. Chances are, you have a bookshelf full of authors whose books you have admired. Take some time to look at their dedication pages. The tone they take may inspire you. Some book dedications have actually become even more iconic than the books themselves.
- The poet E.E. Cummings self-published his first book. He dedicated it to all fourteen of the major publishing houses that rejected his manuscript.
- Jenny Lawson dedicated her memoir to everyone who helped her create it “except for that guy who yelled at me in Kmart when I was eight because he thought I was being ‘too rowdy.’”
- Author Peter Leeson went for a more sentimental dedication with this message: “Ania, I love you; will you marry me?”
Looking through dedications can help you gauge the kind of tone and content that resonates the most with you.
Step 3: Stay On Brand
When writing a book dedication, you should also keep the tone of your own story in mind. If you wrote a light book of essays about funny family stories, then your dedication can be similarly lighthearted.
But if your book is about a dark family tragedy, a humorous dedication page might feel jarring in comparison. If you wrote a story about the life of a beloved family member, you may also want to dedicate the book to her. In that case, you can always dedicate the book in loving memory to that person.
Step 4: Protect the Recipient’s Privacy
Few authors reach rock star status. Even widely-recognized authors like Stephen King tend to lead pretty normal lives.
But whenever you put a story out into the world, it becomes public, and that includes the dedication page. Sometimes devoted fans want to know as much as they can about their favorite authors. That might include looking into their personal lives.
If you want to dedicate your book to someone you love, it’s a beautiful gesture. But it’s also a kindness to preserve some anonymity. A lot of authors achieve this by simply omitting the last name of the recipient. Referring to the recipient by first name feels intimate and personal, and also keeps the recipient out of the public eye.
Step 5: Pay Homage to the Relationship You Have with the Recipient
The dedication page is the most personal page of all. Your message should encapsulate the kind of relationship you have with the person you dedicate your book to. If you dedicate your book to someone you admire greatly, a more formal tone is appropriate.
But if you’re dedicating it to a family member, you can be more informal. Author Tad Williams elevated that concept to a whole new level with his “Otherland” novels. He made a splash when he wrote the following dedication to his father in the first volume:
“This book is dedicated to my father, Joseph Hill Evans, with love. Actually, Dad doesn’t read fiction, so if someone doesn’t tell him about this, he’ll never know.”
That was a funny moment on its own. But in the next four installments of the series, he kept upping the ante. He continued to dedicate each book in the series to his father while updating readers that his father still had not actually picked up any of the books. He claims his father is still unaware that the books are dedicated to him.
Readers look just as forward to Williams’ dedications as they do his books. It gives great insight into their family dynamic, which is what makes it so fun.
Step 6: Listen to Your Gut
Sometimes the hardest thing about dedicating a book is choosing the person you want to dedicate it to. You may want to dedicate it to one person, but feel obligated to dedicate it to someone else.
At the end of the day, no matter how much a person helped you, your book is yours. You should dedicate it to the person you want. Remember, you can always thank other people in the acknowledgments section, too.
Book Dedication Examples
Now that we’ve seen the steps that go into writing a book dedication page, it’s time to look at some examples. People use different strategies to write dedications. Some people stick with simple and sincere messages.
Other authors use inside jokes that have a hidden layer of meaning to the recipient of the dedication. Others turn to famous quotes that contain meaning. Whatever path you go down, just remember to speak from the heart. A heartfelt dedication will always go over well.
For a deceased loved one
This book was written in loving memory of my Grandma Joyce. From the time I was able to walk, she patiently helped me learn everything I know about cooking. None of the recipes written here would have come to fruition without her guidance and love.
For a partner or spouse
Life is a team sport. I can’t think of anyone better to have on my team than my husband, Fred.
Thank you for all the times you handled bedtime solo so I could stay up writing. Thank you for staying on top of the laundry and for keeping me in clean yoga pants. Thank you for brewing me endless cups of coffee. But most of all, thank you for believing in me from day one.
For your children
This book is for my beautiful and brilliant daughter, Harper. Thank you for teaching me how to look at the world through fresh eyes.
They say parents are supposed to teach their children, but I learn so much from you each day.
For your parents or grandparents
This book is a love story. I couldn’t have written it without witnessing the love story that my grandparents live every day. Thank you for being a model of what eternal devotion truly looks like.
For a friend
For Abby, who emailed me every day demanding more chapters to read. I may have written the book, but it would have never been completed without your relentless cheerleading.
This is Dedicated to the One I Love
Writing a book is a deeply personal process. Many people spend years of their lives crafting a book. They might carve out time in the evenings for themselves to write after work.
They might jot down notes on slips of paper when they’re inspired. Finishing a book is a tremendous accomplishment. But it’s not one that happens in a vacuum. If you’ve penned a book, it was likely done with the help of supportive friends and family members. They might have been your cheerleaders or your sounding board. They may have taken on extra household tasks to give you more time to write.
You know it’s good to send a thank you note to people who have helped you through challenges. Writing a thoughtful book dedication is one of the most powerful ways you can say thanks.