Archive for the ‘Save money’ Category

Four Ways to Publish Those Family Treasures

Friday, September 7th, 2012

In 1990 my mother, my brother, and I compiled, edited, and published several of my maternal grandmother’s essays. Most were autobiographical — “My Childhood,” “My Marriage and Family,” and the like — but two were about others. One was “Our Other Grandma,” a tribute to her husband’s mother, whom she refused to call her mother-in-law, because she didn’t like all the critical jokes about mothers-in-law. The other essay she entitled, “Sheepherders I Have Known.”

The resulting short volume (about three dozen letter-size pages) was not a sterling example of the publisher’s art. I printed 15 or 20 copies on my dot matrix printer, then had them bound at a local copy center. There were no illustrations or photographs, not even a sample image or two of the handwritten originals. But it was an instant and enduring hit among its small audience.

This summer I decided to reissue the collection. My mother passed away several years ago, and my brother was busy getting married, so I did it myself. It occupied two or three evenings plus a full, long, 20-hour day off work, but it was ready in time for our annual reunion in early August.

ONE

I couldn’t find the old word processor file, so I used my scanner and the OCR software which came with it. The output text didn’t need much cleanup. I added some old photos, a name index, and a place index. I improved the front cover and the formatting generally. Then I printed about a dozen copies on my laser printer and hauled them to the nearest “big box” office supply store and copy center.

Bertha Babcock History 2nd EdI wanted a Velo binding, as we’d used before. It looks better and is far more durable than . . . anything they actually do at that copy center, as it turned out. They sent me to the local Kinko’s (officially, FedEx Office store), telling me it was the only place in town that could do that kind of binding for me. So I went; it was only about 200 yards away.

Aha! They could do it. But alas! They’d have to send it offsite, because they don’t actually do it here in American Fork. Where? I asked. To Orem, they said. So I thanked them and took it to Orem myself, since it’s on my way to work. By the end of the day, the job was done, and I was pleased with the results: a good-looking binding and a durable, frosted plastic cover, front and back. Between the binding costs and my printing costs, each book cost me about $9.00.

My plan was to give a copy to each of my mother’s six surviving siblings, and also to a couple of relatives who helped a lot with the reunion. (My sister and I were in charge this year.) I couldn’t afford to give it to the next two generations, even if my mother’s generation insisting on paying me for what I intended to be a gift.

Making money was never our object with this publication; we have just wanted to put it into the hands of lots of family members, in the hope that they will read it.

TWO

As I was planning the second edition, I realized that I now have at my disposal three relatively new ways to distribute a document inexpensively. I decided to use them all.

A PDF file of the entire document is about half a megabyte, so it is easily e-mailed. Almost anyone with a personal computer or smart phone can read a PDF file, and the original appearance is faithfully preserved. So I announced to the family that I’ll send the PDF file free of charge, upon request.

THREE AND FOUR

That might have been enough, but I made bigger plans. I published the book electronically at Amazon.com for Kindle and the various free Kindle apps, and at BarnesAndNoble.com for Nook and the free Nook apps. I wasn’t happy with the automatic conversions, especially from HTML, but the conversions from Microsoft Word produced a tolerably good reading experience. One of these first months I’ll have to figure out their raw format, so I can exert more control over the appearance and positioning of images (photos), among other things. In the meantime, it will do.

I set a minimal price for the book at both sites: $0.99. That’s a lot cheaper than printing hard copies, and within the budget of any family member who can afford a Kindle, Nook, or smart phone, I think.

The old, the new, the Kindle app on my iPod

It’s an experiment. I don’t expect the e-books to catch on like wildfire (a painful simile this summer in the American West), but I’m curious to see how they do in the long term. So far, there have been four purchases in all, and one was mine. Twenty sales in the next year or two would delight but not surprise me.

If there’s enough interest among the family, I’ll be happy to publish some other good documents in future years. I haven’t heard of anyone else publishing for small family audiences on Kindle and Nook, and I don’t see very many genealogical works that are available as e-books. But if it catches on among my family, it will be an economical means of getting ancestors’ histories into their descendants’ hands and, one may hope, into their minds and hearts.

In case you’re curious about such things, I pledged to pass on the minimal royalties to the annual reunion fund.

FIVE (An Unadvertised Bonus)

My more knowledgeable colleague at MyHeritage, Mark Olsen, learned of my efforts and pointed out another local opportunity. It may exist in some form local to you, too.

At nearby Brigham Young University, the campus bookstore has a custom publishing service which can turn out relatively affordable soft-bound books very quickly, and pricier hardbacks less quickly. They estimated the cost of producing additional soft-bound copies of my grandmother’s essays about about $7.50 per volume. That’s roughly the same amount I paid elsewhere, but in this case for something that looks a lot like a real book.

Sometime soon I’ll give them a try. All they need is a pair of PDF files: one with the cover, and the other with the rest of the book.

Meanwhile, I’d be interested in hearing how readers are publishing family history documents these days.

As I’ve said before, as important as the names, dates, and places are, the history is by far my favorite part of family history.

Ten Ways To Save Money on Your Genealogy

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009


By Whitney Ransom McGowan

This year one of your New Year’s resolutions may have been to set a budget and stick to it. Here are ten ideas to help you save some money on your family history research:

1. FamilyHistoryLink.comFamilyHistoryLink.com is a free site that allows you to connect with other genealogists to do your research. Using FamilyHistoryLink.com, you can find other people who are searching the same surname you may be searching. You can also be connected to people who are researching in the same city or area you are. Individuals using FamilyHistoryLink.com can also list on their profile page if they are willing to do a free lookup for you. This can, for example, save you the cost of flying to Maine to get a picture of your great, great, grandfather’s headstone. Currently FamilyHistoryLink.com has more than 111,000 members. To sign up, go to FamilyHistoryLink.com.

2. Subscribe to free newsletters -Subscribing to free newsletters can give you access to great content ranging from the latest genealogy news stories and products, to genealogical tips, upcoming events, and even some freebies. In addition to the free WorldVitalRecords.com newsletter, try other free newsletters such as. Dick Eastman’s standard edition newsletter, Family Tree Digest, About.com: Genealogy, Family Tree Magazine’s Free Weekly Email Update, Gould Genealogy – Taking Genealogy Into the Future – Newsletter, and much more.

3. Purchase Google Your Family Tree - As you may have heard, Google Your Family Tree is an excellent, new genealogy book from FamilyLink.com, Inc. Once you purchase the book, you will be able to learn how to use the Web’s largest search engine to find information about your ancestors In the book you will learn many new tips that will save you money, and that will help you find links to your ancestors. Click here to purchase Google Your Family Tree.

4. Free databases on WorldVitalRecords.com. – WorldVitalRecords.com currently offers more than 500 free databases. Plus, all new U.S. content is free for ten days at WorldVitalRecords.com.

5. Familysearch.orgFamilySearch.org is a non-profit service sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch.org encourages all people to find their ancestors and preserve their family histories. To help in this pursuit, the Church has been actively gathering and preserving genealogical records from all over the world for more than 100 years. The site is contains an ever-growing amount of free genealogical resources.

6. Book conferences early – Although genealogy conferences may not be considered “cheap,” the information one can glean by attending a conference is well worth it. Many conferences also offer vendor booths, free demonstrations, networking opportunities, and more. Plus, when you register early you often receive a discount. Decide which conference(s) you will attend early in the year, and then book the conference. You can also often save on airfare if you book early.

7. Collaboration – Collaborating with others is a great way to cut down on costs because you can split the costs among those with whom you are working. Plus, you have the opportunity to work through brick walls together, while sharing resources and ideas.

8. We’re Related – We share an article about We’re Related in the News section of this newsletter edition. We’re Related is free and is a great way to stay connected with your family. You can even find relatives you may have lost contact with, or even some who you didn’t know exist.

9.Go to the library. - When was the last time you went to your local library? Libraries are treasure troves for many genealogical resources including family histories, maps, city directories, genealogy books, and much more. You may even find microfilm collections containing vital records of your ancestors. Some libraries also offer free access to large Web databases.

10. Get free charts and demos online. Many Web sites offer downloads of free pedigree charts and family group sheets. Also, don’t forget to take advantage of free trials and demos on a variety of genealogical products and services.