The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
For 50 to perhaps 75 years, many genealogists have provided a valuable “cottage industry” of publishing genealogy information. Sometimes this information is in the form of reprinting old, out of copyright family history books. Other services include the publishing of local tax lists, school records, census extracts, histories of towns or counties, and much more. Sometimes these publishing efforts are done by private individuals while others are offered as public services or money-making activities by local genealogy societies. Whatever the source, the goal of these efforts has always been to publish valuable genealogy information that is of interest to others.
Many of these publications have been low-budget efforts, often photocopied manually and bound together with hand-stapled covers. Over the years, I have purchased a number of such publications and have found most of them to be valuable for finding information about my ancestors. Many times, I was able to find information in these “home productions” that was not easily found anywhere else.
As the world moves to more and more of an online environment, we shouldn't be surprised to see many of these “cottage” publishers moving to an online environment. In some cases, the publishers continue to produce paper documents but have opened online “catalogs” that anyone can easily search. You place an order, and a book arrives in your mailbox a few days later.
Perhaps even better, some producers of these small books have moved to online publishing. In this case, you can place an order and then receive access to the book within seconds. With books published online, you can read the pages online or save the entire book to your computer's hard drive or even print some of the pages of interest or perhaps print the entire book or a combination of these options. The choice belongs to the buyer.
If you are a publisher of genealogy information or if you wish to become such a publisher, you may wonder, “Can I sell information online?” The answer is, “Yes, you can.” Self-publishing online can work both for you as an individual and for you as a member of a local genealogy society that has a fund-raising idea of publishing and selling local historical information. In both cases, the means exist for you to reach a much larger audience with less time, labor, and expense.
I have been publishing information (this newsletter) and selling it online for years. During this time, I have experimented with several solutions and have talked with other publishers about their methods. Some methods worked well. Some did not. In this article I will share some of the lessons I have learned about what works and what doesn’t.
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