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    « How to Interview a Printer or Publisher | Main | "Fair Use" in Memoir and Family History Books »

    Three Questions About Books at the Family History Expo

    We just finished a wonderful weekend at the Midwest Family Historry Expo in Kansas City. We presented a seminar on Family History Books: Editing, Design and Publishing and had the opportunity to talk with a lot of very nice people about their family history book projects.

    The questions we were asked most often related to three topics:

    • What should the scope of my book be?
    • What will I need to submit to a editor, book designer or printer?
    • How do I choose a printer or publisher?

    We’ll look at the first two today and the third in our next post.

    If there’s one thing genealogists and family historians love it’s research. The question they all face is, “How much research is enough?” We advised people to recognize that there is a difference between the process – reaching the family history, which will probably never be finished – and their intended product – a family history book, which will contain a finite part of that ongoing research. The difficult decision for most people is, which part?

    For people who have been researching for years it many not be possible to include everything they have learned in a single family history book. We discussed several possible ways to decide what to include. You might include only one line of ancestors in your book (with the possibility of doing a future book on another line). You might place a chronological limit on the book. For example, you might deal with only the last three generations or choose a year like 1900 or an event like World War I as the starting point.

    Some of the people we spoke with were somewhat frustrated by the fact that they have had difficulty finding stories about segments of their family. They felt blocked by gaps in their research. We talked with some of them about writing their own memoirs and including their own memories of their families.

    The scope of a book will vary from person to person, everyone must decides what fits their family and their research in deciding what to include in their book.

    We have recently posted an article on the second question, “What will I need to submit?” on our website. Click here to see the article, What Your Editor Wants From You.


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