From today's Guardian:
One of the things nobody tells you when you write a book is how to do a dedication. Presumably they figure it is the least of your problems, and it is. Like the title and the acknowledgements, the dedication is primarily a challenge faced by authors who have already secured both a publishing deal and a plausible ending. But if you are stuck, a title can be suggested by someone else; a dedication really should be all your own work (the authors of The Diary of a Nobody dedicated it to the man who came up with the title: problem solved). And a dedication is meant to be a permanent memorial, even when the bulk of the print run ends up being pulped. It is something you are supposed to craft with care.
I'll confess that I wrote the dedication page of my first novel while I was waiting to hear whether the editors at Steeple Hill Books liked the full manuscript they'd asked to see. I've always wondered what percentage of writers believe so strongly in their novels that they start getting ready for publication even before their books have been sold.
Here's another interesting bit from the Guardian article:
In his book Invisible Forms, Kevin Jackson argues that many of the bits of books we tend to disregard - epigraphs, acknowledgements, indexes, bibliographies - are actually "paratextual", in other words, worthy of analysis in their own right. But this argument works better for prefaces and glossaries than for dedications. Some are funny, some clever or illuminating, but the vast bulk of dedications are dull, uninspiring, and, if you are lucky, brief. A review of the Bloomsbury Dictionary of Dedications described it as "a catalogue of favourite aunts, perfect spouses and the profoundest platitudes. Dedications really do bring out the worst in authors."
Be sure to click over and read the full article, because it contains a funny story about how the author's attempt to write a clever dedication went awry during the publication process.
How do you feel about book dedication pages? Do you read them or skip past them? If you're a dedicated dedication reader, do you most enjoy funny ones, poignant ones, or those that appear to be private jokes?
Examples will be appreciated. (I'm trying to think up a dedication for my next book.)