Just Do It! Self-Publishing Your Family History

Instructor: Jill Morelli, CG, CGL
Dates offered: 28 March, 4 April, 11 April, & 25 April
Time: 3:00 pm PT to 6:00 pm PT
Cost: $300
Additional costs: the cost to publish the first draft of your project (probably between $25 and $100)
Registration: 18-24 January 2023

Course Description
Genealogists know they should write up their family history, but when they make that decision, they are often puzzled by the options for publication— both digital and physical. The focus of this course will be on producing a physical output using a self-publishing website.

There are many benefits to self-publishing. Assuming that your book is not suitable for the commercial market, self-publishing is cheaper than traditional print shops; you don’t end up with 100 books in your basement; you have more control (but not total control); and it is cheaper—did I mention cheaper? (Your first draft won’t cost any more than subsequent copies.)

While we will compare and contrast the many options available for self-publishing, I will use lulu.com for teaching purposes. We will cover the major options. You may, however, use any online publishing service that gives you the result you wish.

This course will not cover digital only publications like blogs or websites. This course will not cover the intricacies of writing a numbered genealogy book, but will cover how to get it into book form.

This is not a writing course. No, you do not have to have a book ready to publish to take the course, but you need more than nothing. You can have as little as 15 pages of content on anything and still successfully take the course.

My goals for each attendee:

  • Understand the options for publication, and the editing process.
  • Learn how to achieve a professional looking output
  • Understand the options offered within your chosen self-publishing site
  • Share your publication with the class and the world

Skills based requirements
You need to have:

  • a good working knowledge of one of the word-processing programs or In-Design
  • a working draft or completed project for which you wish to publish a physical work product. The minimum requirement is about 10-15 pages of content (think: a chapter).
  • a willingness to compromise on your “wish list” to accommodate the requirements of the self-publishing website.

Recommended Resources

Course Outline
Your pre-assignment will be to share the 1.) a 300-500 word section of what you wish to publish for editing and 2.) describe the physical output you desire (book, magazine, photo book etc.).

The four sessions will look something like this and be a combination of discussion, presentations, breakout groups and even a guest speaker!

Session 1

  • Explore options for publication
  • Learn formatting/graphic “rules of thumb”
  • Learn basic editing rules (guest speaker)
  • Session Goals: attendee will decide on the publication company, apply formatting/graphic “rules of thumb” and edit their own work.
  • Assignment: develop a style sheet and apply it to your own work;

Session 2

  • Explore of the options for front and back matter
  • Session Goal: attendee will understand the importance of each component of front and back matter and will apply that to their own project for a professional looking product

Session 3

  • Overview of all the options within the chosen self-publishing site
  • Session Goal: attendee will understand the options, design their cover and request their first draft of the hard copy

Session 4 (two weeks later)

  • Share published work products with the class
  • Learn where to share your work product
  • Session Goal: attendee will share their work product with the class (if received); describe what they will do differently in the final draft and share their distribution plan

I have published numerous books of all kinds, mostly through Lulu.com. I am working on a travel book and one on my orphan train riders. I will work on and publish a draft during the class with you!