Special Interest Group for Publishing

The Albuquerque Genealogical Society (AGS) has initiated a Special Interest Group (SIG) on Writing and Publishing to encourage and assist AGS members with an interest in transitioning their research into a family history publication.  The focus should be on publishing family stories with photos rather than a collection of Web pages.

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. She also pointed out that the library desires family history donations, but 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 made CDs 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 have a “database administrator” to log and keep track of all the team’s data and inputs, which is especially important when it comes to indexing the document.  Discipline in devoting time to a writing/publishing project is required; Rosemary Winkler said she commits 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 to the July AGS meeting and noted that publishing is one way to bequeath your research.  Your relatives might not be the intended audience but rather future researchers. One’s goal should be to get the work into a library; he mentioned that it may be possible to sell your family history to the Allen County Public Library or the Family History Center in Salt Lake City.

Binding:  Mike said James Salazar (Albuquerque) is ‘the’ bookbinder in New Mexico; Peter Ives remarked that while there’s only one affordable bookbinder in New Mexico, there are others 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 if registration issues can be worked out.

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 the months over the summer, sometimes with mentors assigned for focused subgroups. You should have a writing/publishing project for which you can satisfy homework requirements. In particular, each participant should be able to provide a short definition of one’s project or book-to-be:
– Title
– Subtitle
– Table of Contents
Additionally, develop the Preface for your book-to-be.  Later you can build an index.


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