If you envision yourself someday writing a book, this article is for you.
Authors don’t necessarily write a book by themselves.
The writing process may be done privately, but writing a book often requires inspiration and support from those around us.
Perhaps it’s a family member, a spouse, a child, or an otherwise inspiring and important person, but whoever it is, their presence and support in our lives (or sometimes, their lack thereof!) influence the book’s creation.
Authors often choose to include a brief section at the very beginning of a book after the title page, known as a dedication page, on which authors dedicate their work to that important person.
In this article, we’ll explore the nature of book dedications. We’ll include famous examples and tips for writing your own dedication page.
Book dedication examples
Here are some real examples of book dedications. You may find that some dedications are personal enough that you will find an inside joke and sometimes, a peek into dark days.
There are many wonderful things and possibilities in a well-crafted dedication. It will live forever as a true memoir of the author.
A great dedication makes a reader curious about the story within, providing an invisible hook to reel readers to immerse themselves in the book.
CS Lewis – The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
Lewis wrote a very heartwarming dedication for his godchild, Lucy Barfield. His own writing reflects his affection for his lifelong friend’s only daughter:
My dear Lucy,
I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result, you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather,
C. S Lewis
Neil Gaiman – Anansi Boys
You know how it is. You pick up a book, flip to the dedication, and find that, once again, the author has dedicated a book to someone else and not you.
Not this time.
Because we haven’t yet met/have only a glancing acquaintance/are just crazy about each other/haven’t seen each other in much too long/are in some way related/will never meet, but will, I trust, despite that, always think fondly of each other…
This one’s for you.
With you know what, and you probably know why.
Black Beauty – Anna Sewell
To my dear and honored Mother,
whose life, no less than her pen,
has been devoted to the welfare
of others, this little book is
The Secret Adversary – Agatha Christie
To all those who lead monotonous lives, in the hope that they may experience at second hand the delights and dangers of adventure.
The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint Exupery
Leon Werth is a French writer and critic who’s also the author’s friend:
To Leon Werth
I ask the indulgence of the children who may read this book for dedicating it to a grown-up. I have a serious reason: he is the best friend I have in the world. I have another reason: this grown-up understands everything, even books about children. I have a third reason: he lives in France where he is hungry and cold. He needs cheering up. If all these reasons are not enough, I will dedicate the book to the child from whom this grown-up grew. All grown-ups were once children—although few of them remember it. And so I correct my dedication:
To Leon Werth, When he was a little boy
Cosmos – by Carl Sagan
The author dedicated his work to his wife:
“In the vastness of space and immensity of time, it is my joy to spend a planet and an epoch with Annie.”
East of Eden, by John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck’s dedication in a book title East of Eden is addressed to Pascal Covici (Pat), a book publisher and editor he worked closely with:
You came upon me carving some kind of little figure out of wood and you said, “Why don’t you make something for me?”
I asked you what you wanted, and you said, “A box.”
“To put things in.”
“What kind of things?”
“Whatever you have,” you said.
Well, here’s your box. Nearly everything I have is in it, and it is not full. Pain and excitement are in it, and feeling good or bad and evil thoughts and good thoughts- the pleasure of design and some despair and the indescribable joy of creation.
And on top of these are all the gratitude and love I have for you.
And still the box is not full.
Have you been able to pick your favorite book dedication to inspire you in someway writing your own?
What is a dedication page in a book?
Dedication pages are found at the very beginning of a book. They are short pieces of text the author chooses to include to honor or show appreciation and gratitude to an important person or people in their life.
These people have a positive influence on the author and the creation of the book.
Book dedications make the author a more real person in the reader’s mind. Knowing that the author took time to dedicate a message or thank you to someone in their life makes us, the target audience, feel a more tangible connection to that author.
How to write a book dedication page
Read through the examples above and search for more to understand what a dedication message can look like.
By looking at the examples, you’ll see that there are no hard and fast rules for writing a book dedication.
It can be a line or a couple of paragraphs. It can be funny, heartfelt, or cynical – it’s entirely up to you.
Below you’ll find some of the most important parts of a book dedication.
1. Your dedicatee
Choose a person or people to whom you’d like to dedicate your book. Often, authors choose one of the following people:
- A spouse
- A child
- A teacher
- A parent
- A family member
- A close friend
- A significant place
- A religious figure
- A publisher or collaborator
Who inspired you to write this story or start writing in the first place? Is there someone whose support has been particularly significant to you?
Who has helped you in your life, and where has that help and support helped you face significant challenges?
Whose criticism of you has motivated you to be your best? To whom would you like to prove something?
A book’s dedication isn’t always a friendly and loving sentiment toward loved ones. Sometimes they center around spite, often with a touch of humor.
You can write an utterly beautiful dedication in the first, second, or third person point of view. From whichever POV you choose to write your dedication page, make it meaningful.
Without meaning, a dedication lacks purpose altogether and is best left out. Don’t write a dedication for the sake of it.
Put your heart into your dedication.
As mentioned, a dedication offers the reader insight into your thoughts and values as an author, helping them to connect with you and your work on a personal level, rather than considering you a faceless entity and exploring your work without an emotional connection to you as a creator.
Keep your dedication short and sweet.
You don’t need to write a love letter to your dedicatee. If anything, the book itself is a sentiment of love for that person.
While your dedication demonstrates your individuality and emotional sentiment as a person and a writer, you don’t need to indulge.
The reader may very well appreciate your dedication section, but it’s not the story they’re looking for. Don’t make it so long that it distracts the reader from the story to come.
Write the sentimental message you wish to share, but don’t use your dedication section as an opportunity to acknowledge and thank everybody who helped you.
Include such message of appreciation in the acknowledgments section.
Your dedication can take any tone you like. As seen in the examples included earlier, sweet sentiments and expressions of gratitude make for heartwarming dedication and connect readers to the author.
Equally, humor and cynicism can set the tone for the rest of the story, offering readers an understanding of the author’s sentiments during the writing process.
Remember that there’s no exact formula or template for your book’s dedication page. The only person who decides to whom you would like to dedicate your book and what your written dedication looks like is you.
If you don’t know precisely how to write your dedication, a great idea is to get started on reading other dedications for inspiration. The more you read, the more likely you will find a dedication that resonates with you.
Perhaps you like the style, the use of humor, or the sense of love and appreciation the author gracefully adds to the book’s opening message.
Find what you like and let it inspire you to have your own voice to come up with a personal note in your own dedication.