More detail on Self-Publishing a Book

This blog covers:

Different ways of publishing
The parts of a book
Self-publishing: tips and tricks
I will also give a detailed guide of setting up for the layout of a book in a coming blog.
I will start by using some examples of the different types of books and journals that you might consider using for your work.

– limited run small books for family only (using SNAP™ or Officeworks™ or the like)
– booklets (16 to 48 page size) e.g., about the size of a journal or magazine
– books (paperbacks, hardbacks), perhaps 250 to 400 pages.
– e-books – a good way to economically achieve international availability using Apple iTunes, Amazon Kindle and KoboBooks, however marketing e-books has its own difficulties
– websites and blogsites – most family tree programs will automatically produce family history reports as well as family tree charts. All these are easily placed on the web.
– articles in magazines and journals (2000 – 7000 words usually). Examples in Australia are: Queensland History Journal, History Australia, Victorian History Journal, and the genealogical magazine, Ancestor
– photo essays/ captioned photobooks
– Powerpoint™ and audiovisual presentations and videos
– social media, such as Facebook™, can be used as an interactive way of publishing

Today, however, I will limit my discussion to producing a non-fiction book. But we do need remember that some authors have no desire and feel no need to spend the money needed to produce a book – that is not their purpose in writing.

front cover
back cover
title page (full title & short running title)
legal page (back of title page, NLA Cataloguing in Publication entry, copyright statement, ABN, publisher details, year of publication, printer details)
contents page
list of illustrations and maps and family charts
list of appendices
preface (and foreword?)
acknowledgments (record the details as you get each piece of help)
endnotes (could, alternatively, have these at end of each chapter); consider use of footnotes as well
index/s (general index, place index, people index, or just one general index)


Most non-fiction books serve quite niche markets. Although most of us would love a commercial publisher to accept our ‘masterpiece’ for publication, the reality is that only established authors and writers of textbooks will achieve this. This reality is especially so in the family history/ social history genre. Simple mathematics will soon show that a book with a potential market of around a 1000 copies is of no interest to a commercial publisher who would have to face all the costs of assessment, editing, proof-reading, and indexing as well as production and distribution costs. So lets consider whats involved in self-publishing. With modern home computers, user-friendly software and digitisation of the printing process, self-publishing is not all that daunting. The big advantage is that it gives you complete control of your product, its appearance and quality, and the financing of it. You take control of the artistry of the book. In fact you take total control, and YOU decide when you need to call in help and from whom.

So what are some of the decisions you will need to make?
Choosing the cover (the image, the fonts, matt v gloss)
Choosing size of book (A5, B5, C5, A4 etc)
Choosing the thickness of the book (and thus its weight)
Choosing the paper type and weight and quality
Choosing a font to suit the content as well as being easy to read, and commonly used by printers (e.g., Garamond, Times New Roman)
Copying similar books by professional publishers; looking at examples by other family historians
Placement of illustrations and maps
Use of colour
Use of ‘white space’
Margins and gutters
Headers and footers
Page numbering
Endnotes v Footnotes, or both?
Sections (each chapter a new section)
These choices will determine the ‘look’ of your book, its artistry, its readability, and its relationship with the reader. They are important decisions.

In my next blog, I will discuss marketing and promotion, selling your book, and distributing your book.

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