Thursday, June 21, 2007

This is dedicated to the one I love

On Tuesday we discussed acknowledgements pages in novels. Today I thought you might like to weigh in on the subject of book dedications.

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.)


Katie Alender said...

If I happen to glance at the dedication, so be it; if not, just as well. It's a part of the book that seems to belong to the author.

Becky Johnson said...

I guess I'm one of those that faithfully reads every page of the book but the ads for other books they are starting to include (unless, of course, it's about that author's upcoming works). I do enjoy the humorous and thoughtful ones, and even those that appear to be inside jokes...but what I can't stand is a gushy, sickeningly sweet dedication that borders on overdone.

Lisa Jordan said...

Reading the dedications gives me insight into the writer. I read the dedication page (or pages, in some cases) of each novel I pick up. To me, it doesn't matter if the dedications are humorous, sappy, or private jokes. I'm an odd duck who enjoys reading them. :)

Anonymous said...

I particularly like the dedication of your second book....


Brenda Coulter said...

I particularly like the dedication of your second book....

Only because I finally admitted being mean to you when we were little.

Mirtika said...

I often skip acknowledgements, but I never skip dedications. I think it's like this little personal glimpse into the author's life, and plus, I like the one's that are especially beautiful and touching and brief. The ones that are like small intimate gems.

Most are pretty ordinary, but now and then, a really lovely one is pleasing.


Anonymous said...

More often than not, I only read the story. I do like the short bios that kind of let you get a look at the author outside of writing.

But, I have to admit, I kind of worked out most of my dedication before my ms was ever requested. I was thinking positivitely. :-)

Michelle's Writing Space

Brenda Coulter said...

Way to go, Michelle.