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The Art of the Acknowledgement

Rarely is the acknowledgement page something authors look forward to writing. Sure, saying thank you to those who played a major role in getting your book to market may seem like a simple task, but for those of you that haven’t had to do this before, you can’t imagine the stress it causes.

We’ve all seen stoic actors fall to pieces and become blubbering messes when reciting their acceptance speeches, then frantically rushing through a list of unidentified names as the exit music kicks in and the glorified stage hands attempt to escort them off camera before the commercial break.

Sure, authors aren’t doing this under the duress of national television, but they still deserve some sympathy, because what they say goes in print – life-long evidence – of who they remembered to thank. And more importantly, who they forgot.

A recent client of mine was having a terrible time, and I wish I could post the first draft of her acknowledgements page here without potentially risking a hit being put out on her. Because when she emailed it to me I almost fell out of my chair.

This woman had been through hell and back getting her book together, it was non-fiction so she had a research team, she had to coordinate with other professionals in her field, she had a company designing a brand new website, then there was the editor, her book cover designer – honestly not an unusual line up – but she had so many issues along the way she was basically ready to take hostages.

Needless to say the genuine thank yous weren’t flowing freely.

And again, because I can’t share my client’s original draft I had fun coming up with a few celebrity examples (inspired by my previous post on celebrity book deals) that will give you an idea of what most authors really wish they could say:

From Charlie Sheen: To my loving ex-wife Brooke Mueller, for your continued drug use, stints in rehab, and uncanny ability to get photographed looking like a total train wreck, making my numerous indiscretions appear like the lesser of two evils for our impressionable young sons. #winning

From Britney Spears: To my father, Jaime, who continues to hoard all my money and petitions to renew his conservatorship so no one will ever take me seriously again, including my now ex-fiancé who realized marrying a woman who’s one more bad decision away from a straight jacket just wasn’t the best idea. I’ll be single forever, daddy’s little dividend.

From Miley Cyrus: To my Disney family, who I will forever be able to thank for completely pigeonholing me as the cheeky, but pure, southern young lady. Because of you I’ve had to celebrate every birthday with a penis shaped cake, smoke mystery substances, get engaged too young, cut my shirts off just below my tits, and chop off my hair in an effort to be truly respected as an artist.

From Chris Brown: To Rihanna, for sticking with me through thick and thin, uppercuts and bitch slaps. If it weren’t for your blind devotion and lack of self esteem I’d still be dating that one no-name trick that never got me any publicity over the last year. Thanks to you people are taking my picture and following me around town again. Bless you baby girl.

From Jodie Foster: I have so many people to thank I don’t know where to start, but I do have dry cleaning to pick up, a hamster cage to clean, and lunch with Mel on Tuesday, plus there are so many scripts to read in this bat-shit crazy world we call Hollywood. I may never have this chance again so I hope that covers it. Jodie Foster was here, I still am, and I want to be seen, to be understood deeply and to be not so very lonely. Can I get a wolf whistle or something?

From Keri Johnson: Many people don’t know me so I should thank my close friends and family, who have been my real support system through everything. But what have they really done for me? Who I really want to thank Jessica Simpson, the home wrecking whore who busted up my marriage and stole my husband and allowed me the opportunity to write this book and finally make a name for myself. Kiss my ass bitches!

From Kim Kardashian: Thank you to all the pathetic losers out there who continue to think my shows and products are worth paying attention to. Even though my family and I laugh at all of you over dinner every night, and wipe our asses with $100 bills, it’s you who keep me going, who help me get up in the morning. Love and kisses! Oh, and tune into my new show, “Kim and Kloe Get Bikini Waxes”, starting this summer on E!

From Lance Armstrong: To that bitch Betsy Andreu, I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. If you hadn’t ratted me out to my docs back in 2006 I could still be falling asleep with all my medals on every night, I’d still be the king of all things sport, I’d be loved the world over. And to Oprah, thanks for being so easy on me during this year’s most anticipated interview, your kindness and lack of integrity when it comes to hard news helped me retain what I had left of a reputation. And to Oprah’s camera guy, I didn’t commit your name to memory, but you got my better side – fist bump.