THE IDEA OF DOING A FAMILY BOOK SCARES ME.
Every person, family, and organization has stories of its
past and present. You would not hesitate to tell someone or write a letter to someone describing a recent
happening in your life. Well, writing stories for your family (whether you decide to do a book or
not) is no different. You write the stories, you have someone else read them to see what pertinent
detail you may have left out and you make corrections. Read
why people are afraid to write.
In time the stories may add up and you begin to feel more
comfortable in the process. Once you are finished writing, you pull out the photos that go with
the stories. Or you decide to simply have a few pages of photos in the middle of the book. Read
Book for the easiest way to do a book.
You can read about how to arrange your pages and then how
to "design" them. Look at a book you like and see what others have done. If you don't
want to design the pages, we offer that service.
Most people get nervous about doing a book and remain
nervous until the finished book is in their hands, beautifully printed and bound. So
"nervous" and "scared" is not uncommon. When many authors hold their new book
in their hands, they heave a sigh of relief, express their joy, and tell us, "I'm going to
write another book now."
There is hardly a book on book store
shelves today that does not have an error. What one author placed in the Preface of her third
though I have tried to avoid errors, I am certain some will slip through, and I take full
responsibility and I apologize in advance. (Please do not call my mother nor any other contributor
about any errors!)" And she is an attorney and a detailed writer. She knew from experience to expect to see a date or name in error.
No one is perfect.
See the helpful pages listed at the
top of this page. And if you are nervous about our capability, read what our clients say in
Many stories are handed down through a family line and some
distortion of facts or perspectives will necessarily occur. Also your own
memories of many decades ago may have dimmed. These are not as important as
relating the story as you remember it. Some authors invite other family members
to write their memories of the same event. It is always interesting to see that
each person viewed and remembered an event differently. This should not
intimidate you. It simply proves that each human being has a uniquely different
perspective. To have several stories about the same event brings greater
perspective to the reader.
When writing a history, there are times when an author will
add dialog or paint a word picture of the area as he thinks it was at
that time. This allows the reader to "see" and become involved in the
One author included in her book: "The events are all true to history, but told in my own
language. I have drawn on my imagination as to what the characters in the story
might have felt and said in certain situations and even as to what they might
have done under these circumstances."
When dealing with history, a writer often does not have all
the facts, dates, or names. You can place a disclaimer on the copyright page or
in the Introduction explaining that some data has been approximated.
Creative license is important to the writer of history. Usual
spelling and punctuation may be manipulated to accomplish the time and place of
a story you are re-creating. But when you deviate from normal usage, be sure
that others "get the message" you are trying to send; otherwise your
words can sound staged.
A WORD OF ADVICE
Because you work with the same material day after day, you
may be missing errors. Every time you see your material in a different format,
you will see things you have been missing. To avoid having to pay for
corrections after your Book Proof is in your hands, have someone new go over it
carefully now. Reading from bottom of page to top is the best way to find
errors, because you are not pulled into the story. If you need a proofreader, we
are available. Read more.
WHEN TO COPYRIGHT
Copyright law today says that placing the copyright symbol or
writing the word Copyright on your copyright page, along with the year, and your
name legally establishes your ownership to it. Doing so also requires that you
send one finished copy to the Copyright Office. However, you are not required to
place a copyright notice in your book.
Do place a statement on the copyright page saying you give
permission to others to quote from your book, or not. Some authors want the
right to give written permission only; others are willing for material to be
used without permission. If permission is required, your copyright page (this is
the back side of the Title page) should provide a telephone number or address. See
Whether you use a copyright symbol or not on this page, it is
still referred to as the "copyright" page. See
of a copyright page.
NAMING YOUR BOOK
Distant family members may be looking for information on your
family. We recommend that either in the title or sub-title, you include the
family name and perhaps the geographical area in which they settled. This will
make it easier for people searching for information to find out about your book.
SELLING BOOKS TO OTHERS
As the project develops, start a list of family members who
may want a copy. Most people find that names continue to pop up as the project
You may wish to send inquiries to these people, both to
determine their interest in purchasing a book and to see if they have applicable
photos to include. If they send photos, ask for an appropriate caption
describing the photo. Try and include the year and location where the photo was
taken, first and last names, etc.
Many people will want credit for providing
the photo, and this is placed under the caption.
Of course, the question will be asked: How much will the book
cost? And your response must be: We do not yet know. It will be determined by
how many total pages are in the book and the quantity we order. Explain that the
more books ordered at one time, the lower the per book price.
You may wish to factor in shipping costs to those people who
cannot pick it up. Read more under
Ready To Send. And you will also need to acquire sturdy boxes, bubble wrap
or other cushioning material, and tape.
When the time comes to print the books, you will have
discovered the price. One idea many people use is to collect the money on sales
in advance so the monies are in hand to pay for the books.
PRICING YOUR BOOK
Pricing a book to other family members is always a business decision. In the world of
book manufacturing, the greater the quantity you order at one time, the lower
the per-book price. But printing a large quantity of books requires a large
initial investment. Printing a small quantity means you pay more per book. Thus
it is a business decision to consider.
While family members may not realize it, you have spent time
and money preparing the book to be published. You may choose (or not) to factor
that cost into the price you charge them.
WHAT IF I DON'T REMEMBER
Memory in the brain is like a
computer. All your memories are stored away just waiting to be called
forth. They are filed away so effectively and economically that we think
we have "forgotten." Here is the way to access memories.
•First you spend a few
minutes "pondering" on that time in your life. PONDERING is
like asking your computer to find a file you haven't used in a long
time. Your brain – like your computer – begins a "search."
To your surprise, a little memory will pop up.
Ponder again. Another tiny
memory will come forth, related to the first memory. Give this process
some time and it will work. Another help is to "talk" about
that time in your life with another person. The mere act of talking
about it will cause other little details to reveal themselves. Pull out
old photos or letters. And so the process goes.
I'M NOT A PROFESSIONAL WRITER
Most people aren't and it isn't
necessary to be one when you tell your stories. Family members are more
interested in reading a story the way you actually talk, rather than how
a professional writer would express what you are saying. Such books are
CURRENT SPELLING AND GRAMMAR
In the past few years, many
spelling, grammar, and punctuation usages have changed. It is also
possible that older computers will spell check a word as correct, while
a new computer program will show it as incorrect and offer a different
So what is one to do. Among
historians, it is understood that spellings of certain words change over
time. And all editors today see the ongoing changes in punctuation and
grammar. Either obtain a consensus from the members of your group about
specific choices in these matters, or have a detail-oriented person go
over the material with a dictionary once you are finished and suggest
Also be aware that if you can
spell and apply grammar well, you are in a fairly small group. Why do
you think all the computer companies have developed "spell
check" and "grammar check." Spelling and grammar concerns
should not prevent you from writing your stories.
I HAVE GENEALOGY CHARTS, NOT
Genealogy is reported to be the
third biggest hobby in the U.S. This information is printed on Pedigree
Charts, Family Group Sheets, etc. More and more researchers are
preserving their years of hard work by having these sheets printed on
acid-free paper, and then preserved in a hard cover with sewn binding. See a
Such a book is valuable whether
it has accompanying stories or not. However, it is interesting to have a
short introduction on each main family line.
Many family books include
information about parents and grandparents only. If you want to include
information on your ancestors, that is fine. But remember, the most
important task to accomplish in your book is well within your grasp.
Tell about your life and how you have lived it.
I'VE NEVER DONE FAMILY RESEARCH
Searching out the why, how,
where, when, and who of those involved in the early family can be
accomplished either by examining early written records or from
interviews of people who may remember those details. Whether using
written records or the memories of people once involved, there will
always be discrepancies–for that is the nature of writing about
history. So make peace with it. See a page of
You may wish to write something
controversial about a family member. Be aware that any printed material
is subject to laws governing slander, etc. Unless you have the person's
written permission, signed and dated, and the signature and date of a
witness, agreeing for you to publish your exact wording of the incident,
etc, you are at risk of a lawsuit and if we print/bind your book, so are
we. So when we do a book, a paragraph in the simple contract covers
If you plan to include in your
book more than a short quote from another book, if it is copyrighted,
ask for permission from the publisher. If the book is old enough, it may
be considered Public Domain and you do not need permission.
It is difficult and risky to
provide a general rule of thumb about these matters. If you are in
doubt, seek the advice of an attorney. You can also access general
information on the Internet.
Our clients who do books work hard to include stories and
photos they feel their family or group will like. Then when they are finished and we begin (the
project is finally out of their hands), they begin a serious case of worrying they have made
errors. We explain to them that no book is error free and they need to begin making peace with
that. We explain that all authors go through this short process. It is natural.
Then low and behold, when they and their family or group
finally hold the finished beautiful book in their hands, everyone is so impressed and pleased.
Only then does the author heave a sigh of relief.
If you have questions or concerns, please
call us: 1 800 360-5284 or tell us on our