Every author knows that most books have a dedication page, but are they really that important? Do they require a lot of thought, or can you just scribble something down last-minute?
I believe a dedication page is a big opportunity for writers who want to produce a truly meaningful book; and in this post, I’ll show you how to write one.
But, before we jump into that, let’s explore what a dedication page is: A space where you, as an author, can bestow honor to an individual for motivating or inspiring you to write your book.
While some are basically a glorified “Thank You,” a dedication page can be much more than that. Let’s look at 3 ways to make the most of yours.
Use Your Dedication Page as a Literary Device
Are you familiar with the A Series of Unfortunate Events books? They’re a series of books written by Lemony Snicket (pen name of Daniel Handler) that follows three unlucky orphans through a timetable of aptly-put unfortunate events.
The story itself is a unique tale in which the author actually inserts himself into the narrative as an omniscient, yet sad, storyteller, who longs for his lost lover, Beatrice—the same Beatrice each of his books is dedicated to.
Snicket uses the loss of Beatrice to set the gloomy tone for each of his books. His dedication page is actually used as part of the story and helped to inspire yet another book—The Beatrice Letters.
Lemony Snicket has completely mastered the use of the dedication page.
So as you can see, a dedication page doesn’t necessarily need to be outside of the scope of your story. It can indeed be part of the metadata. One that can lead to new and exciting possibilities.
Further Your Author Brand with Your Dedication Page
Did you know that your dedication can speak directly into the psyche of your readers?
Your readers can discern a great deal of information about who you are as a person (and as an author) through how you word it.
Is your dedication hostile and abrasive? Let’s say you wrote a dedication to yourself. One that says,
“I dedicate this book to me because everybody else has done nothing but hold me back.”
Now, that could be an interesting tactic. On one hand, people may take inspiration to do something for themselves. On the other… They might just think you’re mean and selfish.
But what if you wrote something a little more inspirational?
Here’s an example from one of the best sci-fi series of all time—The Dune Chronicles.
Frank Herbert’s dedication read,
"To the people whose labors go beyond ideas into the realm of 'real materials'- to the dry-land ecologists, wherever they may be, in whatever time they work, this effort at prediction is dedicated in humility and admiration."
In Herbert’s Dune, the ecology of the planet shaped the story. In his dedication, he not only showed respect to ecology and its students, but portrayed himself as humble and grateful.
His dedication long survives his death and has become a shining example of how a dedication page should be written.
Create a Complete Reading Experience with a Dedication Page
If you were to ask any author how to write a book, I doubt the dedication page will be in the top 5 (or even top 10) pieces of advice they give you. But… most books do have them.
Why is that?
It would be kind of like watching the Oscars and not hearing any dedications from the award winners. It just wouldn’t be the same.
As a reader myself, I love to read all of the pieces and parts that make up a book. That includes the forewords and prefaces, the conclusions and acknowledgments, and—that’s right—the dedication.
- Book Anatomy 101, Know Your Parts: Front Matter
- Book Anatomy 101: Book Body Parts
- Book Anatomy 101, Know Your Parts: Back Matter
As we saw earlier, the dedication can be an integral part of either the story or of literary history. So, don’t leave out the chance to make your mark or to just say thanks to those who deserve it.
Why Should You Write a Great Dedication Page?
We’ve all heard a great dedication before.
Whether it’s from a Pastor at his favorite lectern or Childish Gambino at Coachella, a well-versed dedication can emotionally set the stage for something great to come.
Dedication pages can support author brand marketing or the story itself. They can also serve as a simple thank you. And that’s okay. If nothing else, a dedication page is an opportunity to thank people who deserve it and delight those you love in a way they’ll never forget.
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