To those authors who read endless guides on getting published, this is a question about audience, market share, and pitching, but to everyone, it is also a question of heart. Whenever I open a book, I stop at the almost blank page at the beginning – the one that says something simple like “For Amy”, cryptic like “For H.K.”, or effusive, like “To Mum, for all the times she picked me up before I fell”.
It’s not the same as the Acknowledgements at the back, although I usually read those too. This isn’t the place for colleagues, research assistants, or a long list of family and friends. It’s a moment of intimacy, even though reading those words tells the vast majority of the readership nothing at all.
I always pause there, but I can’t tell you why. Maybe it reminds me that there’s an author behind the words; that there is a true story hidden behind the fiction. Maybe it just appeals to the romantic within me. Perhaps it’s simply that I am addicted to reading (I’ll read anything – toothpaste tubes, adverts, ingredients lists … even contract small print!) and can’t turn the page without taking it in.
If I ever get a book properly published, I don’t know who I will dedicate it to. There are so many possibilities – people who have changed my life, or shaped my craft; those who matter the most to me on a wholly personal level; various people I have loved and lost; even the people I have never met who have somehow influenced that particular novel (Melanie’s story, for example, could be dedicated to other child carers like her).
Is this something that published authors think long and hard about, or do they go by gut instinct? Is it perhaps just another place where the muse stamps her authority or where a publisher makes suggestions? I don’t know, but I hope one day to find out.
Do you have plans for a dedication? Do you stop and read them, or is that just me?