After The End: 5 Reasons to Read a Book’s Acknowledgments Section
To many, the end of a book is the final page of a story, the part where your characters have resolved their issues, perhaps embarked on new adventures that’ll be explored in the next installment, or left you feeling numb, heartbroken, or contemplative over a standalone. However, the pages of the book, file, etc., continue. Sometimes you get an epilogue, a sneak peek, an appendix, or an index—or all of the above. And many times, after that, you’ll encounter a section called Acknowledgments.
If done well, the Acknowledgments section is one of my favorite parts. I have made a habit of reading them, even if they are mostly just a list of people. Why? Here are my top 5 reasons.
1. Hear the Author Speak
You’ve spent hours, days, or maybe months in the author’s imagination and thoughts; now, the Acknowledgments offer the author’s own, raw voice and emotions for you to explore. This is the part where authors can express themselves, explain some of their writing process, and engage with the audience and those who’ve aided them in forming this incredible piece of work you’ve chosen to commit to reading. (One of my favorite Acknowledgments sections is Neil Gaiman’s for The Ocean at the End of the Lane, in which he speaks to the reader directly.)
2. Get to Know the Team Behind the Author
An Acknowledgments section is more than just a list of names. If you read them closely, you’ll see a list of people who’ve helped in many different ways. Most times, the author’s publisher, editor, and literary agent are thanked (always thank them; they have worked tirelessly to make this book come to life, in more ways than you can ever imagine; from my perspective, editors are just as in love with an author's world and characters as the author is). But more often I see people’s beta readers, book clubs, writing clubs, family, and writing inspirations mentioned by name too. This list is a litany of people who’ve believed in the author's story. It takes a village to bring a book to shelf of screen, and the Acknowledgments is a great reminder of that.
3. Take Notes for the Future
If you’re trying to break into the writing world, the Acknowledgments might give you ideas on where to go to get published. You can use this section to note the publisher, agent, editor, and writing clubs the author might’ve worked with throughout the publishing process. You could then research these individuals or companies and see if they’re a right fit for your book.
The Acknowledgements is full of appreciation. It’s the author’s finale to this piece they’ve composed for readers around the world. To write a novel is a big task, taking months or years to get it right, and having an Acknowledgments section is important, as it brings that process into focus—for both author and reader. Reading the Acknowledgments is the last stage you can do to thank the author and help them complete their journey.
5. Realize They're Not All the Same
The Acknowledgments section changes from book to book and author to author, allowing you more opportunities to appreciate the author’s process, gain new knowledge of the work that goes into publishing a book, and develop a better understanding of the writing process. If you’re a writer, it also gives you more avenues to pursue your publishing dreams.