Julie's Genealogy & History Hub

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Self-Publishing for the Family Historian, Is It For You?

MP900430487I am no expert when it comes to the topic of self-publishing, but I know people who are.  It’s been a hot topic lately, both in the genealogical community and in general.  I’ve come across several articles that may help you decide whether self-publishing is something you want to pursue.

Biff Barnes, historian and writer behind the Stories to Tell Blog, kicked off the new year with a series of posts about self-publishing.  If you are considering publishing a book in the near future, these are must-read posts.

I’ve also run across several posts on the subject of self-publishing from various writers.  All of these posts offer general advice about self-publishing and do not relate to genealogy specifically.  Nonetheless, they are still worth the read.

The remainder of these posts come from the genealogy world and offer advice on making the most of self-publishing, as well as some insight on various tools.

After reading some of these posts, do you think self-publishing is something you want to pursue?  Or do you think you’ll stick to the traditional route?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject, so be sure to leave me a comment and voice your opinion.

  • Marion Woodfork Simmons says:


    Thanks for referencing the two links on my blog regarding self-publishing. Self-publishing was a great experience for me. I am not a professional writer and had never written a book. When I started my project, I had no idea what I was doing. I did a lot of research and figured out the process along the way.

    In my case, the benefits of self-publishing out weighed the use of traditional publishing for many reasons. My book was a local history book about a school in a rural community. I doubt a traditional publisher would be interested in the subject because the sales for such a book would not be great.

    Genealogy/local history research is my avocation and does not pay my bills. I have a professional career that sometimes requires a lot of my time. Since I was self-publishing, I was not tied to a stringent time line. I set goals for myself and established a time line, but if something came up that prevented me from meeting those goals I was free to make adjustments. I doubt a traditional publisher would have been as understanding or flexible.

    I changed my mind numerous times on the organization and layout of the book. Since I was self-publishing, I was free to make as many changes as I wanted until I was satisfied. I doubt a traditional publisher would have allowed so many changes or have been very receptive to my input.

    By self-publishing, I am free to choose the quantity of books I want to order. After the first year, the sales for my book have slowed down; therefore I only reorder the book in very small quantities when needed. Most traditional publishers have a minimum number of books that must be ordered. Therefore, if I used a traditional publisher I would be required to order far more books than necessary which would be expensive and require me to have a large inventory sitting around.

    In summary, I find self-publishing to be a very rewarding experience. My advice to people thinking of self-publishing is to go for it. There are a lot of companies available so do your research before you make your selection. I used Create Space and have been very pleased with the results.

    I also strongly suggest spending the money to hire an editor and a graphic designer so that you will have a professionally looking final product. It is well worth the expense. I did a little fundraising to help raise money to defer the cost for these professional services.

    Marion Woodfork Simmons

    July 4, 2013 at 7:25 am
    • Julie Cahill Tarr says:

      Thanks for sharing some additional insight, Marion. Sharing your experience with self-publishing is helpful to all of us as we try to make decisions on getting our family history out there.

      July 4, 2013 at 3:18 pm

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