What’s the best way to get your memoir or family history book into print? That’s a question with many answers, and even more people out there telling you which answer you should choose. Which one will work best for you? Begin by asking yourself three questions: • Who is your intended audience? Are you hoping for commercial success with wide distribution of your book? Or, is your goal to distribute a limited number of copies to family and friends? • How many copies of the book will you need? This will help you decide whether it will be better to use a digital printer or an offset printer. [For a discussion of the different types of printing available read our blog posts Printing Choices in Self Publishing and Print on Demand Lowers the Cost of Family History Books .] • How to plan to pay for the book’s printing or publication? When you’ve made some decisions about these questions you will be better equipped to make a choice on who you want to print or publish your book.
Newspapers have long used sidebars, short stories presenting sidelights to the main news story. Textbook publishers do the same thing. A science text offers a short biographical sketch of the scientist who developed a particular theory to accompany the chapter explaining his ideas. Sidebars are a tool that memoirists and family historians might use as well. Here are some examples of ways you can use sidebars to include interesting stories or bits of information to provide interesting sidelights to your book without interrupting its narrative flow of a memoir or family history.
Christmas is a great time for storytellers. Each of us has a collection of holiday tales that we’ve gathered through the years. We’d like to recommend two stories (and some ways to preserve your own family stories) to you:
Looking for a model for your memoir or family history book? This is a great time of the year to find one. Everyone who cares about books is rushing to get their Top 10 List for 2011 out there. Here are 10 places you might look for a good memoir or family history to start the new year with (or maybe as a last minute gift).
Writing a book can be a complicated process. You have multiple elements to manage: Generating ideas, research, planning and organizing, as well as the actual writing. You are juggling a lot of ideas, details and tasks. Thoughts related to any of the things you’re working on occur at odd times and can be forgotten before you act upon them if you don’t have a tool to capture those odd thoughts. That’s why a lot of great writers keep journals. Think of your writer’s journal as a project ,management system. Here are just a few of the ways you can use a writer’s journal:
Do you have family memorabilia like collections of letters you’re not sure how to preserve or share with others? They would make a wonderful book. We’ve worked with clients who have created books from collections of love letters between grandparents, correspondence sent home by relatives serving in the military or by a loved one traveling abroad. No matter the nature of your letters, a few simple ideas will help transform them into a book you will be proud of.
Wow, you have a lot! A lifetime of stuff, and your parent's stuff, too. You’ve been researching your genealogy a long time, have you? Recently, Carol Davis wrote me an email, "My first goal is to have my collection cleaned up enough if so I drop dead tonight I will not have to listen to my family moan and wail because they do not know what in the world to do with what I have. They would not toss it, but I would know truly how they feel about me if that happened. More to the point, this is my mess and mine to straighten up." I replied, “Carol, believe me, you're not the only one with this problem.”
Carol, like many genealogists, wants to leave a family history book as a legacy to her family. They may never be interested in “the whole mess”, but they will treasure a book, one that contains her most important knowledge, and one that was written for them.
Here's a way to think about sorting through your “stuff” that may speed up the process and make it more manageable. What if you consider all your stuff, and put it into two categories: digital and print. Not the form it's in now, but whichever form would be the best outcome. For example, anything that's strictly factual can be stored as digital, database information, and therefore it is easily preserved and can be archived for later. Consider that family members can step in and complete this work for you most easily. You can feel safe about putting that factual digital information on the back burner while you deal with the rest.
The second category contains anything that is wonderful to look at and handle, like documents and photos. Many are suitable for a print project - and they are also more fragile and likely to be lost if anything happens to you! These are your most important artifacts. Most likely, they need you and your memories to explain them and bring them to life. After all, what does your family care about? You, and your memories.
Now, these objects can now also be sorted into two categories: worthy of a book project, or not. You may have one or more, even several, book projects in mind. Select and scan all the essential, book worthy stuff first.
Then scan the other, secondary stuff that won't go into one of your book projects and so will remain digital. Make folders of all those scans, grouping them simply by topic or period. That way, someone else can make sense of them if anything happens to you.
Next comes the fun part: narrowing down your first book project so that it doesn't overwhelm you. Instead of throwing in the whole kitchen sink (or your whole family history) into one book, look at your best scans, and think about what's most important for you to say, and for your family to hear after you've gone. For this first time out, limit yourself to a small book. Cover just four generations, instead of twelve. One do just one branch of the family. Why a smaller project? Because you will finish it.
Write the book simply, in your natural voice, and tell your stories. Utilize lots of the scanned images of your precious family artifacts. This way, you don't have to write as much text and the book will be move along more quickly, because the pictures will help to tell the story. You can always supplement the book with a CD, if you want to include more stuff, without taking the time to write a longer book.
Remember, you’re trying to finijsh this pproject before you “drop dead”. To do that, you need to set a deadline, say within a year, and work on the book exclusively – expect to giveup your research time until you're done!
This method will also allow you to publish quickly, and to get that book into your family’s hands. They will be delighted! And they will want more. After all your hard work, they will still want more, because what does your family care about? You, and your memories. So, you put one book into their hands, satisfying your original goal, and if your hurry, you’ll live long enough to do another family history book. Even as you write your first, you can plan the second to include the things you didn't get to cover in the first. You'll be more experienced the second time around, and the process will be easier, so the second can be a bigger book.
But first, start with an easy, smaller project, and finish it. You know what they say... "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."
Nancy and Biff Barnes, editors from Stories To Tell, will join host Thomas MacEntee on GeneaBloggers Radio, at 6:00 p.m. (CST) Friday, December 16th to discuss the question, “Do Books Still Matter in Genealogy?”
What do a book and a pair of shoes have in common? A slogan. Nike has made a fortune admonishing people to “Just do it!” The writer, staring hesitatingly, at the blank first page of a book would be well served by the same advice.
When it comes to placing images in your book, not all images are equal. Nor should all images be used in the same way. One of the most important things to consider in deciding how to place the images in your book is to consider the relationship of the text to the image. How do text and image work together to tell a story? Let’s look at some examples of the kinds of choices you might make in placing photos.
When Seth Godin talks, it’s a good idea to listen. But it’s also a good idea to question some of his conclusions. Leo Babuta recently hosted the man American Way Magazine called “America’s Greatest Marketer” on his zenhabits blog for a session titled On the Future of Books: A Discussion with Seth Godin. Godin had just decided to end The Domino Project which he had conducted in partnership with Amazon with the goal of reinventing the way books are created, purchased and read. It was a stimulating and provocative conversation.
The holidays are a time when lots of us resolve to get a record of our lives down on paper. That’s great! But before you begin banging away at your keyboard take some time to consider your goals for the book. There are several ways to tell your story. We work with a lot of genealogists who have been researching for years and want to turn their research into a factual chronicle which documents their family’s history. Others are raconteurs who love to spin a good yarn. They are practiced storytellers who want to regale their audience with the best stories from their lives. But others seek to reflect upon the facts or the stories to draw meaning from them and to see what lessons their life experiences have to teach. These are the memoir writers. It is with people from that last category that New York Times columnist and author of the recently released book, The Social Animal: The Hidden Source of Love, Character and Achievement, David Brooks, conducted a project that should interest anyone who cares about memoirs.
In our previous post we explored some advice to authors of children’s books seeking an illustrator.In today’s post we’ll explore the question of how to find an illustrator if you plan to self publish your children’s book. Begin by deciding how many illustrations and what size you want. Then decide on you budget for the project. Armed with this knowledge you can begin searching for your illustration.
In the course of editing and designing books for people we often get questions. One we’ve heard a lot lately is, “Can you help me find a good illustrator for a children’s book?” Like many things associated with creating a book, this question is more complex than it seems. To begin with, you must deal with another question: How do you hope to get your book published? Will you follow the traditional process and submit it to a publishing house or do you plan to self publish? Your answer will take you down one of two very different roads. Today we’ll focus on the road to traditional commercial publication.
Matt Richtel and Julie Bosman of the NY Times reported that many tech savvy adults may love their Kindles, but For Their Children, Many EBook Fans Insist on Paper. They found that, “Print books may be under siege from the rise of e-books, but they have a tenacious hold on a particular group: children and toddlers. Their parents are insisting this next generation of readers spend their early years with old-fashioned books.” Their reasons for limiting children to paper books are based on personal feelings about the reading experience. Other than parental feelings about books is there a reason children are better off with print books than ebooks? Not really.