The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
Would you like to publish the results of your genealogy research? Does your genealogy society or family name organization want to publish data in book form? Publishing genealogy books has long been an expensive proposition. Genealogy authors often have paid book publishers $5,000 to $10,000 or more in advance in order to have a book published. However, new business models today can reduce those "up front" expenses to zero, thanks to online services.
There are a number of publishers specializing in short-run books; that is, the publication of small quantities of books. These short-run publishers traditionally have charged the author for publication costs. Most genealogists who wish to publish their findings as books use short-run publishers for printing. Family organizations also use short-run publishers to reprint old family genealogy books that have long been out of print. These are the books you often see on the shelves at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, in other genealogy libraries throughout the world, and in the homes of many genealogists.
Self-publishing traditionally has meant paying thousands of dollars and committing to hundreds of copies of the book "up front." The author often pays to have a book printed although sometimes a family association makes the payment. In any case, someone has to take possession of 100, perhaps 500, or even 1,000 copies of the new book. Then there is the issue of advertising and selling the books. Finally, someone has to package the books and send them to the purchasers.
At times, the efforts of advertising, selling, and packaging books may seem to be bigger than the labor required to write it! I also remember hearing one sad story of an author who had nearly 1,000 books in inventory in his basement when a water pipe burst and flooded the basement, ruining all of the books. The insurance company said that “business inventory” wasn’t covered by homeowner’s insurance. Of course, one can claim that personally-published books are not “business inventory,” but I wouldn’t want to argue that point with an insurance company’s attorneys!
Luckily, there is a modern solution that can reduce or eliminate the financial problems as well as many of the problems associated with storing inventory.
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