Thinking about writing a family history book someday? Most genealogists and family historians do. Over the years, we have offered lots of advice on how to research your ancestors in ways that will help you write an interesting family narrative that will engage your readers. Today we will focus on a much more nuts and bolts topic: documentation. Must your family history have a bibliography and source notes? No. There are no rules about what your book will or won’t contain. You are the author. You get to decide. However, if you want to create a record of your ancestors that other genealogists (maybe the next generation in your own family) can build on, you’ll need to document your sources. As Family Search advises, “The best way to judge the quality of a family group record is by its source footnotes.” So, if you do want document the story your book tells, here are two pieces advice that will save you time and frustration as you do.
Are you looking for a publisher for your book? Take a moment to think about your reasons for seeking a publisher. Chances are they will include: Legitimacy and Prestige - A publisher’s imprint confers legitimacy on the book. It has been vetted by a literary agent (usually) and an acquisitions editor (always). The professional judgment of these gatekeepers confirms the quality of your book. Advance Payment – A traditional publisher gives you an advance paid against future royalties when it buys the rights to your book. Distribution and Publicity - Your publisher will handle distribution of your book. They can get your book into bookstores. The publisher’s publicity and marketing departments will get the word out about your book. They will handle advertising, schedule interviews and line up a book tour for you. Sound good? Before you sign a contract, let’s take a closer look at these benefits.
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What’s the key to writing an engaging life story? It’s a challenge faced by memoirists, biographers, and family historians. How do you get at the essence of the person you’re writing about? A recent New York Times Book Review piece by Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, author of My Name Is Red, Snow and Museum of Innocence, posed a question by which all life writers might be guided. In a review of Adam Begley’s biography Updike, a life story of two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist John Updike, Pamuk asked, “How was Updike possible? Every literary biography should ask and attempt to answer the same question for its own subject.”
We love a great family history conference. What’s even better is sharing one with friends. We would like you to join us at the premier genealogy and family history event on the West Coast Southern California Genealogy Jamboree, June 6-8 at the Burbank, California Marriott. To make that happen we are raffling off a free full weekend registration. All you need to do is visit the Stories To Tell Books Page on Facebook. Like the contest post and you are entered in the raffle.
To construct a narrative family history one must gather the family lore and stories to supplement the facts drawn from vital records. Unfortunately, as most family historians know too well, the people we would like to ask about those stories are often no longer with us. When that’s the case, you need to reconstruct your family’s narrative from the limited records available. Letters and diaries can be a rich source of family stories. Even a single letter can be a wonderful tool in understanding an ancestors time and place.
Family history books are unique. They are usually targeted to a very small audience of family members. As a consequence, producing a family history presents an author with some unique challenges. Many family historians think finding a publisher is one of them. The truth is, they’d be better off without one.
Telling a good story often depends on asking the right questions while you discover the facts of the tale you want to tell. Keeping three questions in mind as you research your genealogy will help you to create an interesting family history which will engage your readers.
What are you doing for Preservation Week? It’s an important question for genealogists and family historians, whose mission is to preserve their family’s heritage. Here’s a chance to take action! The American Library Association launched Preservation Week in 2010 out of a concern that “our cultural and information heritage…continues to be at risk.” The goal of this week, April 27-May 3, is “preserving and collecting personal, family, or community heritage.” You can see it on the ALA website Preservation Week: Pass It On! The ALA’s efforts focus on our tangible heritage – documents, photos, artifacts, and digital collections of records. That’s good! But what about your family’s intangibles, the family stories and lore? Here are some things you should be doing right now.
10 quotations about the craft of writing from great literary figures. These ideas will both inspire and instruct any writer.
Any self-publishing author who wants to get his book out there might ask: Is there a no-hassle way to sell my book on my website, Word Press blog, Facebook, or Pinterest page while keeping a larger share of the profits than I’d get on a third party site? The 2013 Australian start-up Selz provides just that. Its website promises, “Effortless ecommerce for selling online from any website.” Let's check it out.
If you’re a self-publishing author, you have some important choices to make. In this blog series, we are discussing the pros and cons to help you with the most important decisions you’ll need to know about: How authors can market their books online without technical skills? In any group of self-publishing authors, this is always the big question. Here are five great ideas we have talked about in the past and links to our posts that explored the marketing tools in detail.
How to hire self-publishing experts without the costs and problems of using a subsidy publisher. When you hire freelancers they are responsible to you. You maintain control of your book’s production. You decide what kinds of help you need and keep costs down, paying only for what you need, rather than paying for a package of services that you don’t need. Here are some things to keep in mind while hiring.
If you’re a self-publishing author, you have some important choices to make. In this blog series, we are discussing the pros and cons to help you with the most important decisions you’ll need to know about: Is self-publishing as a DIY project? Or should you hire others to help with editing, book design, publishing, distribution, publicity and marketing? Beginning authors see the “self” in self-publishing and think it must be a DIY project; that they have a long learning curve ahead to master every step of the process. That’s not always the case; in fact, almost all experienced self-publishing writers take a team approach.
“The indie author insurrection has become a revolution that will strip publishers of power they once took for granted.” - Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords If you’re a self-publishing author, you have some important choices to make. Here is one of the most important decisions you’ll need to know about: Do you really want to “self-publish,” or should you use a “self-publishing company”?