Here's a question Vanity Fair proposes-- is it weird that Jonathan Franzen supposedly dedicated his upcoming book to his agent and editor?
I actually saw that in another recent book, and thought it was... weird.
Let's distinguish between dedications and acknowledgments. They both usually come at the front of the book, after the copyright page but before Chapter 1. Sometimes the acknowledgment page is at the end of the book. The writer uses the acknowledgment page to thank those who have helped in some way-- maybe a firefighter who gave advice on arson, and the town clerk who provided so much research on the town, and the critique group who read through every draft. This is where writers usually acknowledge the editor and agent, often in fairly fulsome terms. "Thanks to my wonderful agent Anne Agent, who took a chance on an unknown and bolstered my spirits at every stage... to my brilliant editor Edward Editor, who with tact and talent turned this pumpkin into a Cinderella!" This is also where writers mention their families if they dedicated the book to someone else. (Children are usually thanked for not complaining about being neglected. :)
So the acknowledgments generally show gratitude for help, usually for the specific time of writing the book. They're usually more professional than personal in tone. The dedication, however, is usually a personal shout-out to someone who has had a profound effect on the writer's life-- her parents, or his wife, or a beloved teacher, or a best friend. Some heartbreaking ones include the death date-- an "in memoriam." Some dedications are more didactic-- Toni Morrison dedicated a book to "the 60 million" (Africans who died in the "Middle Passage" into slavery). But dedications are often a glimpse into the deepest values of the writer, and who inspired the book or helped create the person who wrote it.
Anyway, I have to say, a dedication to an editor and/or agent seems odd to me. They might have sold/bought the book, but did they inspire it? Did they help the writer become the person who wrote it? Probably not. But the writer must have felt a sense of gratitude beyond the professional?
So... who are you going to dedicate the next book too?
And are there people you'll acknowledge in the acknowledgment page?