Writing acknowledgements. Wouldn’t all aspiring writers love to pen those? It would mean having a book finished and possibly being published. In a recent comment on the subject of acknowledgements in the News Review part of the weekend edition of the Sydney Morning Herald, host of ABC TV program The Drum, Julia Baird, however, referenced American author Emily Gould as arguing against the inclusion of any acknowledgements and quoted her as saying, Your readers, trust me, will be thanking YOU.
I disagree. As a reader I love acknowledgements. For me they signify that the author is humble and kind enough to acknowledge the help that any author needs to get to publication stage. Not having any, as some authors do, interestingly often men, to me signifies the culture of entitlement I so despise.
For readers who are also aspiring writers, acknowledgements can be a treasure trove: some authors, such as Emily Maguire and Karen Viggers in their most recent novels An Isolated Incident and The Grass Castle respectively, acknowledge not only their publisher, but also their literary agent. For books similar in genre and style, this can give you a hint of who might be the publisher or literary agent to approach with your manuscript. Some, including Emily Maguire and Inga Simpson in her most recent novel Where the Trees Were, also acknowledge their editors who may be staff of the publishing house as well as freelance editors. Even though editors are not usually identified as staff or freelance, if you read acknowledgements as eagerly as I do, you will come across the same editors’ names for books published by different publishing houses, which suggests that they are freelance.
The acknowledgements that I have never forgotten are those by Amit Majmudar in his amazing debut novel Partitions, set in India in 1947 during the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan, published five years ago. Amit Majmudar’s final words are these: Finally, I am grateful to every reader of this book, whoever you are, wherever you are. Your time has been a gift.