Members of the Albuquerque Genealogical Society (AGS) in early 2017 initiated a Special Interest Group (SIG) on Writing and Publishing to encourage and assist AGS members in transitioning their research into family history publications. The goal is to capture such publications in the Library of Congress and other collections. This blog captures the path to achieve our goal and provides a history that should prove helpful to genealogists.
Source Material: Genealogy Librarian Lisa Kindrick has located numerous references in the ABC Library System on desktop publishing, writing family histories, and documenting genealogical research. The library desires family history donations, but non-traditional media such as collections in 3-ring binders are not immediately ready for library shelves. Hardbound or binding that permits reference labeling along the spine is preferred; the library will also advertise its accessions to other libraries.
Organization and discipline are key. A recurrent theme expressed by members is the lack of interest by relatives in either continuing the research or even reading what had been provided. One attendee had published DVDs with music accompanying the photos and a little genealogical information inserted to communicate with cousins.
Publishing Teams: It helps to work in teams; Michelle Weiss said she did all the computer work, and her friend did the copy-editing. Mike Blackledge said he had a three-person team working on his 2002 book and found it important to designate a single “database administrator” to log and keep track of all the team’s data and inputs, especially important when it comes to indexing the document. Discipline in devoting time to a writing/publishing project is required; Rosemary Winkler recommends committing one hour a day, beyond research.
The discipline also must extend to the organization of project materials; Mike commented that a 3-ring binder is not conducive to indexing. A genealogy or family history publication requires an index which requires page numbers
AGS Presentation: Mike Blackledge presented a talk on publishing for the July 2017 AGS program and noted that publishing is one way to bequeath your research. Your relatives might not be the intended audience but consider future researchers. One’s goal should be to get the work into a library, primary through donation of your publication. Only a few genealogical libraries, e.g., the Allen County Public Library or the Family History Center in Salt Lake City, may actually purchase family histories.
Binding: Each of us needs to consider whether our publication is to be hard cover or softcover. We have found some printers such as LithExcel in Albuquerque, can handle either requests. Hardcovers e.g., theses covers, are hand-crafted by bookbinders such as James Salazar (Albuquerque); Peter Ives remarked there are bookbinders in Albuquerque and Santa Fe that will provide Corinthian leather covers, marble paper, etc. at substantially more expense. Using copy shops is another way to publish your work; Peter mentioned one at Harvard and Silver that has free parking: a boon in the UNM area.
ISBNs: An International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is not required for publication; however, from a Library and resource standpoint, it does have advantages in the publishing world. Obtaining an ISBN means signing up under some other publishing company, or creating your own. A group (such as AGS, or this AGS SIG) can obtain a single ISBN from Bowker for $150 or 10 for $250 (a thousand ISBNs costs less than $1000). Our SIG has launched Copper Ave. Press in order to make a bulk purchase of ISBNs and provide an independent publishing entity for our members. We discuss this process elsewhere in this blog.
The Magic Button: Current software packages essentially allow one to publish at the push of a button. The software programs used by the group include Ancestry Quest, Brother’s Keeper, Family Tree Maker, Legacy, Master Genealogist, and RootsMagic. Several participants mentioned that publishing a first draft is useful to identify holes or incomplete information in the work and gather feedback. Mike Dietz mentioned that the pride of accomplishment in first seeing your publication is also significant. One consideration for your first publication is whether it’s to be a Family History or a Genealogy – or how to combine. Indexing is key to the utility of your work, but indexing is done last. Placement of photos is the next to last step, since the photos will affect pagination, and thus affect indexing.
SIG Homework: We meet on the 3rd Wednesday of each month from February through November, and work toward self-assigned goals. Each SIG attendee should have a writing/publishing project for which they can satisfy homework requirements. In particular, each participant should be able to provide a short definition of one’s project or book-to-be:
– Table of Contents
An additional goal is to develop the Preface for your book-to-be. Later you can build an index. Each of these will be addressed by the SIG with Lessons Learned captured in this blog.