You plan to write a family history book. You have been diligently researching for some time and amassed a good deal of knowledge about your ancestors, but there’s a lot more you would like to find out. You are not alone. We spoke at the Genealogy Event in New York City last weekend where a number of our conversations with family historians included the words, “I just need to research a few more things, then I’ll begin writing my book.” Before you follow the inclination to put off starting to write while you try to gather a bit more research, you might want to consider an observation by two time Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough. In a 2003 Interview with National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman Bruce Cole, McCullough said, “There’s an awful temptation to just keep on researching. There comes a point where you just have to stop, and start writing. When I began, I thought that the way one should work was to do all the research and then write the book. In time I began to understand that it’s when you start writing that you really find out what you don’t know and need to know.”
Is your book legally protected from copyright infringement? Would you be able to prove your rights to your work in a court of law? Though anything you create in written or viewable form is automatically copyrighted according to United States law, such a claim will not stand up in court. To prove you own the work, you need a certificate from the Copyright office at the Library of Congress. It’s a pretty easy process to obtain a copyright certificate. You fill out an application online, pay the fee (between $35 for online registration and $85 for paper registration), then send two copies of the work to the Copyright office at the Library of Congress. It takes several months to process the application after which they send you a copyright certificate. Keep this certificate on file in case of any future legal issues. Here’s how you do it.
Are print books an endangered species? You can find plenty of people to argue either side of the question. But if you find the whole debate a bit tedious and would be happy to continue reading your print book, you’ll get a chuckle out of Swedish furniture retailer Ikea’s video announcement of its 2015 Catalog.
There has been a lot of advice on the web of late suggesting that writers can improve their productivity by paying attention to their environment, routine, work style and craft. Here are five of the best posts on the subject.
Ancestry has found a new home for My Canvas. There has been a good deal of celebrating in the genealogy community. At Stories To Tell we are always happy to see more opportunities for people to share their family history. But this is a good time to ask whether My Canvas, the best known place to publish a family history, is really the best way to create a family history book. There are two reasons My Canvas seems an attractive option to people who want to publish a family history, but don’t know much about how book publishing works: Ancestry's credibility, and My Canvas's Ease of Use. Before choosing My Canvas as your publisher, you might want to ask some additional questions.
Every writer is looking for ways to enrich the characters, deepen the conflict and build a more dramatic story. Here are six great tips from around the web to help you do just that.
If you are looking for ways to share your ancestor stories and family history, there are a growing number of online sites offering easy ways to do it. They provide templates with which you can upload everything from a single anecdote to a full book. These service providers also promise to store your stories either on-site or with a cloud-based system. We always encourage people to share their stories, but advise caution when embracing a net-based solution. The latest object lesson is Ancestry.com’s decision to shut down its My Canvas publishing program.
One of the questions we are frequently asked is, “What is a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) and how do I get one?” A LCCN is distributed for free by the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. and corresponds to a created record in their system that libraries across the country can look at if they want information on how to catalog your book.
You’re in a bookstore or at an event looking at a book and it’s so poorly designed that it’s distracting to you and you choose not to buy it. I’ve had this happen so many times that I want to write the authors and tell them about our book design services before they print their books again. Whether a book is designed by a mainstream publisher or is self-published, the design needs to look clean and professional.
We’re in Salt Lake City for day two of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) annual conference. The attendees are a wonderfully serious and enthusiastic group who have asked us some great questions. One of my favorites was, “Do you have the app to make days 48 hours long so I have time to get my family history written?” I had to admit that our crack R & D department is still working on that one. By far the most frequently asked question was, “What’s the best way to organize my family history?” There is no single best way, but here are five questions to think about when you are organizing you own book.
Now you have a book in your hands! It’s been written, edited, designed, and printed. What a glorious feeling! Congratulations! And then the question sets in: what do you do with it now? There are many places you can market your book such as bookstores, events, in magazines, and online. I have found the most success when I have the closest direct contact with readers.
We are getting ready to head to Salt Lake City for the annual conference of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies which begins July 27th. It’s always fun to talk with enthusiastic people about genealogy and their family history. But what we are especially interested in about this conference is one of the activities for participants. The Conference Blog explains: One hundred years ago, the second day of our conference, marks the outbreak of World War One. The anniversary of the “War to End all Wars” will be a major focus of our conference, with sessions exploring how the War impacted the lives of our ancestors. Consider submitting your World War I Story to be included in our collection. Your story need not be about the war or someone who was in the military, but it can tell the story of what your relatives did during the war. There’s no better way to memorialize our ancestors than to tell their stories. We are looking forward to reading and talking about the stories participants submit which will be posted online at the conference.
Why does it take so long to get a book into print? That’s a question a lot of first time authors ask. There are plenty of good reasons that the process takes so long, but a humorous look at how a book gets edited, designed, published, publicized, distributed and marketed is much more fun. Enjoy the video published by the Digital Marketing Team at Macmillan titled From the Typewriter to the Bookstore: A Publishing Story.
When I’m enthralled by a good speaker or a great book, it’s usually because I’m being told an intriguing story. I love a good story. As humans, story is one of our most powerful tools of communication. A good story gives us new perspective, helps us gain understanding, lets us know we’re not alone, and passes along tradition and familial heritage. One of the powers inherent in writing is being able to voice what can be difficult for other people to share. It takes courage to be that voice—an opening of vulnerability.
One of the first things an editor learns is the importance of a good style manual. When tricky questions of grammar, punctuation or usage arise, it’s good to have a “bible” to refer to get the definitive answer as to the “correct” way to write something. Today I got a good reminder. Correctness is not always absolute, even with the best of style manuals. My problem was simple. I wanted to create a possessive of the name Julius. My client had written Julius’s. My recollection was that no additional s was necessary and that it should be Julius’. Which was correct? I checked the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition and found the following advice: