Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Acknowledgments assemble!

When researching a book, I keep track of literally every person I talk to in my quest for information. So as I document my subject, I must simultaneously document those who helped me document my subject.

With my upcoming picture book on Bill Finger and Batman, that list has exceeded 200 (and, although the manuscript has already been signed off on, continues to grow).

Some people let loose bombshells while others provided nothing new. Still, with only a few exceptions, everyone was kind and, if not helpful, apologetic that they couldn’t be. My tendency is to want to give a nod in print to anyone who took time to hear me out about a project, however briefly. Yet, like any part of the writing process, self-editing is necessary.

If space were no issue, I’d include them all in the acknowledgments. However, when is space not an issue? I will manage to thank a good percentage. Curiously, I’ve found that I feel compelled to thank people who were courteous even if they knew nothing with equal weight as those who contributed vital tidbits.

For the first time, it made me reflect on the reality that acknowledgments are not only a blueprint of the knowledge base that builds a book but also a reminder of the truth that sometimes, all someone needs to do to earn someone else’s gratitude is respond to a stranger’s e-mail.

Authors, do you thank only those who contributed information that made it into the book or do you thank every nice person you consulted along the way?

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