Self-Publishing: Books, E-Books, and PDFs
by Meryl Schumacker, CG
In the September, October, and November 2018 editions of NGS Monthly, Aaron Goodwin offered his suggestions for how to begin writing your family history. I have been following his series with enthusiasm, and I am thrilled to contribute this installment.
I am fairly comfortable as a writer; my first career was in television writing. However I am new to the process of genealogical publishing. As I continue with my own family history monograph, I have been struggling with the question of what to do when I am finished. Should I publish a book? Or is digital preservation the way of the future? Today, we’ll be discussing different options for publishing your family history.Only NGS members have access to full articles of NGS Monthly. Please log in or click here to learn more about joining the National Genealogical Society.
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From 2011 to 2018 I self-published four books about my ancestors. I used this format. Chapter One – Story of my great grandfather with footnotes and photos. Chapter Two – Story of my great grandmother with footnotes and photos. Chapter Three – Collection of captioned family photos. Chapter Four – Collection of captioned family documents – Chapter Five – printout of the family with their ancestors and their children from my RootsMagic software database with footnotes. I took pre-orders from family members and ordered a limited number of books – about 60 of each book. Income paid for the books, padded mailing envelopes and USPS postage at book rate. 48 Hour Books in Akron, Ohio, did a great job with the printing, and using their software I designed my own layout and had them design my covers to my specifications. Very pleased with the results. https://www.48hrbooks.com/
I have used Snapfish for publishing books photos only and photos with text. They offer various sizes of a finished product, page layout options including backgrounds ranging from white to a variety of colors or patterns, and the cover can be hard or soft but the biggest factor for this is the finished size. There is a great deal of control, you can allow the program to auto place your photos or you can manually place them all, with or without captions or text on the page. You can copy and paste, but you are limited to their small catalogue of fonts and superscripts and footnotes do not transfer well.
I self-published a three-generational family history book in 2010 and used the BYU Print shop. They have been printing genealogy books for many years, both hard-cover and paperback. They can do both black and white and color. We were very pleased with their work. Their website is: https://printandmail.byu.edu/home/content.php?page=print/familyhistory§ion=print/print
I have begun the task of taking some of the extensive family research I have done, and converting it into a Biographical Sketch for the ancestor. The first was completed in December 2018, a 22 page biographical and historical narrative of my son-in-law’s German immigrant ancestor. I printed it on heavy paper as a PDF, and inserted it into a nice binder that I got on Amazon for $25. It was a Christmas gift for his father, and he was thrilled to receive it.
I descend from generations of photo-phobic ancestors, so there are very few pictures to fill in a narrative. I make up for this by including record images, pictures of ships, and anything else that will contribute to the story. In 2019, I am planning to complete two of these projects – one for my husband’s line, and one for mine. It is slow but very satisfying work. Jean Andrews, CG