The Acknowledgments page cannot make a bad book better, but it can ruin a good one.
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IF YOU ARE A ROOKIE A-PAGER, here are a few rules of thumb: Keep outright groveling to a minimum. Ditto nods to the dead. Skip the proffered thanks to the editor-in-chief of your publishing house; she won’t read it. If you are an orphaned writer (and still got your book published), omit reference to your editor, unless you know the circumstances of his departure. Never acknowledge a lawyer. When thanking Amanda Urban, it’s inappropriate to include the modifier “super agent,” and never put “Binky” in quotes.
If you are a citizen non-writer who expected to be acknowledged but wasn’t, start your next campaign now. Offer your writer friend your summer house. Bring over fresh-baked cookies. Research the subject matter of his book and e-mail links. Leave lipsticked messages of encouragement on her mirror after you’ve walked her dog. Never use the word “deadline” in a sentence.
It’s possible to get excessively riled about Acknowledgments, with their false humility, gushy spousal odes, and numbing lists. Joseph Epstein, essayist and former editor of the American Scholar, takes a more mature view. “Acknowledgments are the literary equivalent of tipping,” says Epstein, “but with Monopoly money.” Thanks, Joe.
Jonathan Black, a former managing editor of Playboy, is the author of Yes You Can! Behind the Hype and Hustle of the Motivation Biz (Bloomsbury).
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?