(+) Publishing Your Genealogy Book on Demand

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 in advance $2,000 to $10,000 or more to a book publisher in order to have a book privately published. However, new business models today can reduce those “up front” expenses can be as low as zero, thanks to online services. In fact, if your book is ready to be sent to the publisher, you might be able to make it available for sale within ten minutes. Would-be purchasers can order your book directly from you or from your web site, from the publisher’s web site, or from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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 have used 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 normally see on the shelves at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, 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.” However, today’s companies use print on-demand (POD) technology to print books as they are ordered. The key to making all this work is “on-demand printing.” The publisher does not print hundreds or thousands of books in advance (for which the author must also pay in advance). Instead, books are printed one-at-a-time as orders are received.

Startup costs vary from zero to perhaps $500. Buyers can purchase your book from the publisher’s web site, or from your web site. You can order as many copies as you wish for your own inventory or you may prefer to wait for the orders to arrive and then print only the copies needed.

Within the past few years, an additional offering has become popular: e-publishing. That is, you can offer your book as a traditional printed publication or as an electronic download or both. Your customers may elect to purchase only an electronic copy of your “book” which they may download directly to their computers or they may order it as a paperback or even a hardbound book.

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