Happy New Year!
I have a suggestion for a New Year's Resolution for anyone thinking about getting a family history book or memoir published this year. Set a date to get it finished.
We've just finished the holidays. In the couple of months leading up to Christmas and Hanukah we've talked to too many people who have said, “I'd like to get my book done to give as holiday gifts.” Unfortunately, we've had to tell some of them that they didn't have enough time to get it finished.
So if you want to have a book in print for next holiday season, plan now for what you'll need to do to get it finished. Work backwards from the finished product creating a timeline for all of the various steps: completing the draft of your manuscript, choosing photos and illustrations and getting them scanned, getting the draft edited and revised, designing the cover, laying out the pages, choosing a publisher, getting the manuscript shipped off to the printer and printing it. Will you need help with any of these steps? If so, decide who you want to help you and get them scheduled.
A caution to family historians – when you begin working on a book recognize that you are dealing with a product not a process. Doing family history is a process. Research is ongoing. You'll probably be doing research for the rest of your life. But a book is an end in itself. Recognize that your research won't be finished. Your book will be based on what you know now. If you are going to get your book into print, you've got to be willing to say, “I am ready to publish what I know at this point.” If later research gives you new information or insights, great. Publish a second edition of your book. If you think about your research and realize that you have things you won't have ready in time to publish, limit what you will include in your book to what you know. When you finish the research you still haven't done, write a second book.
It will all be worth it. We had a number of clients who did complete their books for this holiday season. Seeing their happiness, excitement and pride was really wonderful.
So if you want to create a book, make your New Year's Resolution to get it done for the 2011 holiday season.
Best wishes. Have a great 2011!