Self Publishing Guide
Genealogy Book Publishing
Television shows like “The Antiques Road Show”, “The Collectors” and “The Antique Collector” have made us much more aware of our histories than ever before. Many attempts in the past have been made to help us preserve those family memories. Kodak was instrumental in getting an inexpensive camera into the hands of millions of people so they could record their family experiences in either stills or movies.
In time the VHS tape was developed and large cumbersome movie cameras that would use these tapes to record family events and have them played on your home VCR and TV. In time, very small, moderately priced, digital movie cameras were introduced, where the movies could also be played back directly from the camera to your television, and the sales went wild.
Then the digital still camera started to become popular and the digital movie camera has gone from three versions of digital tape to a mini CD. In the mean time the sales of digital cameras have rocketed and all sorts of different versions, attachments and recording medias have been developed.
Creating a family genealogy book is a perfect way to protect your valuable memories and family history for many generations to come. Old photographs, letters and newspaper clippings deteriorate with time, especially when they are handled. Reproducing and organizing these in a book provides a way for you to share these important items with all your family, without risking the important originals. Genealogy books make excellent gifts for family members.
Where to Start
If you don’t already have your family genealogy manuscript book written yet, there are a few things to consider about the book you want to print.
Producing the Children’s Book Manuscript
It is imperative that the content or text of your genealogy book be in one contiguous file. If all of your chapters are saved as individual files, they will all need to be amalgamated into one large file for printing.
Most word processors can accomplish this simply by cutting the text from the existing chapters and pasting it into the text of the new document … which leads to the next topic.
Selecting the software to write your manuscript.
This can be a little confusing with the number of products on the market today, combined with how they function under different circumstances.
Below are some outlines of most common programs to help you in selecting the most appropriate.
Microsoft (MS) Word
MS Word is easy to use and produces very good print results when it comes to simple text. This software even performs adequately with a modest amount of graphics embedded in the text, but for large manuscripts that will require large volumes of graphics, other products may be more suitable.
Corel Word Perfect
This is another great word processor, and like Word, WordPerfect is best for text and modest volumes of graphics.
Adobe InDesign and Quark Express
These software products are more to book manuscripts where there are large volumes of graphics, which we would typically expect to see in genealogy book layouts. Either one of these products will handle text just fine, but they are a bit more cumbersome where only large volumes of text are concerned. Where they shine is where there are larger volumes of graphics, and text to go along with them, which is what we would expect most genealogy books would be comprised of.
The only drawback of these programs is that they do take time to learn and are a bit more expensive to purchase.
Editing and Proofreading your novel
Proofreading any manuscript before any printing is undertaken is essential.
Genealogy Size Layout
Since the paper your book will be printed on comes in specific sizes, it will be best to keep within those sizes in order for your book to remain as cost effective as possible.
The two most common sizes for family genealogy / family history books are 8 ½”x11” and 5 ½ ” x 8 ½”. This larger 8 1/2” x 11” is best used when many pictures and graphics are to be included in the book.
Since a genealogy book would typically contain at least some graphics, (primarily photographs), it is important to know the kinds of quality you will need in order to reproduce these images if you are planning to scan your own material. The final image should be in 300 DPI (dots per inch). Anything lower than this and the quality will suffer and the images will look terrible. If you cannont produce at least 300 DPI we suggest you consider another image that can be reproduced at that quality.
Family Genealogy / Family History Book Binding Types
There are three main ways genealogy books can be put together or “bound”.
50 to 1,000 pages: Hardcover books are the most difficult and most
expensive to produce but are also the most valued because they look
excellent, and are long lasting, which of course is essential for
genealogy type books. Disadvantages are the cost to produce and to a
lesser degree the excess weight for shipping.
- Soft Cover Perfect Binding: Approximately 40 to 300 pages: These types of books use a soft cover, but retain the “book feel” of hardcover books because they have a square back. Most pocket books, for example, use “perfect binding”. The main advantage of this type of binding is that it is less expensive than hard cover to produce while still looking very good (especially with a color cover). Disadvantages include the fact that the covers can tend to wear out with heavy use (although we recommend laminating which will help prevent this), and that these books don’t have the same premium appearance as hard cover books, but are still a very good choice.
Genealogy / Family History Book Cover
The cover of your genealogy book is an important element of the project.
As the owner and author of the book, you will want a cover that looks good, is robust and long lasting, and that reflects the contents of the book so readers who glance at the cover will still have some idea what is contained within the book.
Laminating book covers (for soft cover perfect bind books) can result in covers arching or bending from time to time, depending on weather conditions. This is a normal process which is caused by the lamination which blocks the flow of moisture through the book cover creating a small amount of pressure on one side of the cover and making them arch slightly. This is the normal reaction of cardboard covers with plastic lamination, and can really only be solved by going to hardcover books. Since genealogy books maybe used as coffee table books, this may be important to know ahead of time, as the covers will rarely lie flat against the pages like a hard cover book would.
The size of the cover of the book, if you are designing your own, will need to be slightly larger than the actual book you are planning on printing. This is to allow for trimming of the final book and cover to make nice clean lines on all three exposed book sides. If you are going to be making a “perfect bind” book, you will also need to allow for the thickness of the back of the book (spine) as determined by the number of pages in the book.
If you are going to be using any images or graphics on the cover, we recommend using a professional graphic program like Adobe Photoshop for best results.
Most authors are not graphic artists, and coming up with a book cover can be very difficult for them.