Wednesday, June 6, 2007

You - The Author

As our collection of family history data, photos, histories and documents expands, we come to the realization that we are 'sitting' on real treasure. Other family members, both immediate and more distant, have interest in our 'fabulous' collection of family history records. The collection really is 'fabulous'. We know how much time, effort and money we have invested in collecting the records and don't want those efforts lost if we are gone.

How can we save and share this precious treasure? There are several methods such as burning CD's and DVD's, sharing the data as a gedcom file, digital photo files,
electronic documents, etc. Another option is to publish the data in book form.

Write a book? Me? Yes, you can create a book. Many genealogy software programs will 'write' a book as a report option. Some programs create better text output than others. I personally use Legacy version 6.x which has a 'publishing center' tool. The tool allows you to insert pages, introductions, bibliographies, indexes, etc. along with narrative reports of your data. However, you'll probably want to export your 'book' as a text or .rdf file so you can massage the verbiage with your writing style.

Another method of creating your book is to collect the histories, photos, etc. and take them to Kinko's or a similar business. Tell them to copy the pages, put covers on it and bind it with a spiral binding. The key is that you have actually put the information in a format that has a chance of surviving beyond your lifetime.

Books can be passed on to family members, donated to libraries, etc. Even if your book isn't perfect, any of your research, notes, etc. will be welcomed by family members and other researchers.

One publishing option is to use online publishing sites. One of my favorites is To publish, you create a file, upload it, create a cover using their tools and hit the publish button. You choose who can see the book on their site. You can even sell your masterpiece to the whole world on the Lulu website. Each book is printed 'on-demand', so there are no out of pocket printing expense like those involved in going to a local printer. The author sets the selling price of their publication, Lulu collects a 20% commission from each sale and the difference between the sale price and publishing cost is given to the author.

Visit the Lulu website and watch the video tour of the process. I think you'll see how easy it is to publish your work. Also note that Lulu allows you to publish calendars, DVD's, CD's etc. You may even want to publish the bedtime stories that you tell your children as keepsakes from their youth.

There are other similar tools and websites for publishing. Search the web and talk to local printers, including the BYU printers before you decide which option is best for you. The bottom line is that any of us can publish our work and by using a method like the one offered on Lulu, the cost is minimal.