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Saturday, May 11, 2019

Self Publishing Your Family History

Self Publishing Your Family History
Noeline Kyle

Stay Local
Stay as local as you can for the publishing/printing process.  Using a local printer/publisher provides for easy access to obtain quotes and to talk to the printer.  If you have extra questions or there is a problem it is easy to contact a local person.  The same rule applies to online printer/publishers.  A local website in your county/country/town/locality is a good first option. It is the case that with online/internet access it is also possible to contact overseas printers/publishers and many of these are an excellent choice also. 

Gather Information via 3 Quotes
Obtain printing quotes from at least 3 printers.  Learn from them.  Ask additional questions as you become more familiar with the process. Here is a preliminary list of questions/ideas for the printers:
200 copies (you can ask for a quote for 20, 50, 100 or 200 copies), in most cases the printer will be offering print-on-demand and the unit cost will not differ (you can check this with the printer when you contact them)
(Print-on-demand is a fixed cost per copy of your book regardless of the size of the order.  In the past typesetter printers would charge less per unit if you ordered 200 copies compared to say 100)

·         26,000 words ( let your printer know the number of words as well as page number)

·         Page size:  A4 is an easy size to work with if you are new to formatting and decide to do it yourself.  A4 allows you to arrange images and text easily.  However, if you decide on a different size, say  C5, 230 x 155 mm you may have to pay someone to do it for you, (more of this later in this blog post).

·         Paper:  something like Satin Art paper, 95 gsm.  Each printer will have suggestions for your publication.  Fuji Xerox have Colotech paper which is 100gsm white, and excellent for producing clear and vivid text and images, (can be purchased from Officeworks).

·         Colour:  no colour, all black and white, including all images, and the cover. Or you might have some colour, and you will be required to detail these.

·         Cover:  You will need to do your own cover and supply a PDF file, more on this later in this blog.

·         Binding:  Perfect binding.

·         ISBN:  It is not necessary to have an ISBN, however including it will identify your book and simplify the ordering process for bookshops and libraries, for Australia, see ISBN Australia

The Software
For most self publishers the manuscripts will be completed in WORD.  If you are inserting images as you go it is best to work on each chapter individually as large WORD files can become unstable.   Each chapter can be converted to a PDF (if this is how your chosen printer specifies) and then combined into one PDF file with a program like PDF Combine CutePDF
Your chosen printer can also combine your files for you.  However, be aware that if you ask another party to combine your PDF or WORD  files the result may shift your images/text in ways that you then have to edit again.  A good strategy is to ask your printer to combine your files and then return the final file to you for checking.  You can take the file to Officeworks or some other printing company and have a draft of your book printed (back to back pages) in a simple print edition that can serve as a draft for you to work from.

Be Realistic
If you are not confident to do your own editing and/or formatting then you can employ individuals to do this for you.  For some straightforward advice on editing see my chapter 4, p.42 of my ebook Writing Family History Book 5: Publishing your family history, a practical guide obtainable from Amazon at: for $2.79 AU.
For formatting your text you can ask a family member who is confident and experienced with this task to do it for you.  If you do not have a friend or family member to help and you would like to employ a professional then look at the following and choose several, say 3, and obtain a quote for the work you want them to do, Australian Book Designers Association
You can also use this association to find  a cover designer as well.  You will need to provide some information on what your approach is both for the formatting (book size) and for the cover provide information about the major themes and what images you might like on the cover.
For example when I was publishing a book on Midwives of the Mid North Coast, one of my major sources were the almost daily and/or weekly advertisements these women placed in local newspapers.  The book designer Karen Scott Book Design cleverly used these to design a cover that mimicked a newspaper page.  She also utilized an image of a midwife with a baby and photographs from the main streets of the towns featuring children and/or historical scenes, see following images:

The back cover should have a description of your book content plus a biography of you, the author, see above:

©Noeline Kyle 2019

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