Family History Books

Did you know that InstantPublisher prints family history books? We’ve helped many customers self publish their family histories, genealogies and memiors over the years.

Whether your family history is humorous, sober or serious, we can print it. This is your opportunity to professionally publish family traditions, ancestors’ stories and memories you have of family members. Many customers choose to have their family history printed in a color hardback cover, but the options are endless.

Here are just a few family history books we’ve printed:

If you’re interested in publishing your family history, you can order our free self publishing guide by visiting our website or giving us a call at 800-259-2592. Our customer service reps are ready to help you every step of the way!

Self Publishing is to your advantage

An author who decides to self-publish basically becomes the publisher. (The author does everything.) The author must proofread the final text and provide the funds required to publish the book, as well as the camera-ready artwork. The author is responsible for marketing and distributing the book, filling orders, and running advertising campaigns. In the past, the author had to decide on the number of copies to print, sometimes resulting in stacks of unsold books gathering dust in the garage! Fortunately, the Print on Demand (POD) technology now used by some self-publishing companies means that authors can have fewer copies printed.

Fundamental differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing:

Time-

With traditional publishing, a manuscript can take years to become a book. First, an author may have to pitch the manuscript to several publishing houses before it is picked up. Considering that the bigger houses can take up to six months to work through, to get to your manuscript and that you will likely have to try several publishing houses before you get one to show interest. That’s a lot of waiting. Then, if a large book publisher does decide to take your book, the actual process of producing the book takes at least another year. Admittedly, this process applies mainly to fiction. Nonfiction books that are topical and relevant to current world events might be pushed through more quickly.

With self-publishing, depending on the company, an author can literally have a finished book—hardcover or paperback or both—in his or her hands within a few months. And, with the advent of e-books, this can be reduced to weeks, or even days. Of course, authors have to pay for this service, which raises the issue of money.

Money-

In contrast, with traditional publishing, you are paid an advance, ranging from small sums to seven-digit figures. In traditional publishing, the publishing house, with its huge resources, experience, knowledge, and contacts, vigorously promotes your book. When you self-publish, you pay for everything—design, editing, printing, advertising, distribution—to get your book into stores and ultimately into people’s hands. You’re all by yourself; self-publishing works best for people who are good at self-marketing. The major payoff for all of your payout, though, is control.

Control-

Often an author’s joy at selling a manuscript turns into despair when an over-zealous editor at a publishing house rips that manuscript into unrecognizable shreds. Publishers might refuse to publish a book because it is too controversial, doesn’t fit the house’s list, or simply because [they think] it won’t sell. With self-publishing, the author has much greater control over the contents, design, and appearance, as well as where the book is marketed and distributed.

It’s all up to you…

Having looked at traditional publishing versus self-publishing, ask yourself some tough questions about what is best for you, your intentions, and your manuscript. Are you willing to play the waiting game in order to earn a large advance from a traditional publisher? Or is control of your manuscript and a quick turnaround more important?

The good news is that the available tools—POD, the internet, and online booksellers—are leveling the playing field between traditionally published and self-published books. Authors now have more options.

Remember, a document that’s free of spelling and grammatical errors is far more likely to catch the attention of a publishing house editor—or satisfy the customers for your self-published book. Submit your draft to one of our book editors today to ensure that your document is error free. Proof it until it’s right and error free, before you print.

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Edit Your Novel before Self-Publishing

Always let someone else proof your novel before you publish, and make sure your editor isn’t such a good friend that he/she won’t tell you about the problems he/she finds. Along with errant commas and missing words, your editor should look for plot holes, weak writing and unresolved situations.

{ A good editor will suggest changes that tighten up your novel and elevate it from good to great. }

Your copy editor (could be a friend who currently works at a big publishing house or a friend who’s a writer). These editors can suggest people who would be excellent editors. You may choose an experienced editor with 10+ years of experience or a newbie with 2-3 years experience. It’s also good to get 2-3 people to edit your book before self-publishing.

Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Time to fix those errors and polish your masterpiece.

Reread your novel, and as you finish each chapter, summarize the most important events that occur. Remember to focus on what happens in the novel including the character motivation and emotion that propels action and lends a human touch to the storyline.

Imagine that you’re telling your story to a group of friends. You won’t have their attention for five hours, but you will for a few minutes. So convey the essential storyline complete with tension, pacing and character emotion.

Make your synopsis complete and yet a quick read that stands on its own. The most effective synopsis provides the feeling of having read the entire book.

Of course, it’s impossible to tell from a single chapter or even the first few chapters whether an unknown writer can orchestrate the important elements of fiction — character, plot, dialogue, pacing, setting, and point of view. For this reason, editors find that fiction submissions of a plot synopsis or sample chapters aren’t enough to demonstrate, that the writer can carry through on what they promise. That’s why it’s important to write and rewrite your entire novel before submitting it for publication.

Printing your book is STEP #1 in your Self-Publishing Success Story

The mistake new authors make is in assuming that a physical copy of their book is the end goal. They don’t understand that creating a print copy is simply a step in the process. This is step #1. Then marketing comes. Authors must spread the word.

{ Printing your book is STEP #1 in Self-Publishing. }

The real problems begin when it comes time to market that print copy. Merely having a website on the internet or a placement on Amazon.com isn’t enough. You MUST have a way to drive traffic to your book.

Without major buzz, it is unlikely that people will flock to those sites in search of your book. More importantly, when you self-publish, you do not have access to the vehicles through which most new releases find homes: Libraries and large retail outlets like Barnes & Noble or Wal-Mart.

Some bookstores, under financial stress, are selling slots on their shelves to self-published writers, meaning that now the “author” not only has to pay for the printing of the book, he or she is also paying for space in a bookstore.

Self-publishing can be a viable alternative for non-fiction writers who are a part of a specific niche. Because they are connected to a well-defined segment of the market that is already interested in the subject matter, non-fiction writers have a potential leg up on sales. {It does help when you write a novel about a popular subject matter. This helps sell your novel.}

Although the fiction market is divided into genres, it’s tougher to harness that power because the market is so large and diffuse with many, many websites and social networking opportunities.

However, it does help you to have a professional website to sell your book. Also, you must have a blog. Blogs are very popular, and people can leave comments. Others will review these comments and the snowball effect starts. By word of mouth your book will start to get good reviews.

Yes, create a business Facebook page. This will help spread the word. Post comments about your new book 3-4 times per week on Facebook. *Note, make sure you post a link back to your website, about your book.

In summation, step #1 is to get your book printed. Self Publishing is a winner. To have success, you must network, network, network. Tell everyone you know about your book. *Yes, Amazon, and iTunes will help sell your book, but you must market your book by telling everyone that you have a new book.

*[Share your success story from self-publishing your book with InstantPublisher.]

Self-Publishing >>

How to Edit Writing Like a Professional

You can edit your book, if that was not part of your school training. Follow (carefully) the proceeding guidelines, to edit your book.

Ask who the intended reader. As an editor you will need to know, who is the intended audience. You will determine the readability level, the tone of the writing, the clarity, and the use of jargon for the intended reader.

Read the work thoroughly. When editing, read through a piece several times in order to catch as many errors as possible. The first time through, do not concentrate on catching errors. Instead, focus on getting a sense of what the author is trying to communicate. Then, as you read the piece a second and third time, start marking errors to correct.

Do a “spell check” and readability index. Use the spell and grammar check functions in your word processing program to identify possible errors. (*Note, the word possible. We need humans to actually read and proof books, because Microsoft Word will not catch all spelling errors.) These functions can point out specific types of errors. Most people use Microsoft Word for spell and grammar checks. Once the spell check function finishes, a “Readability Statistics” box is displayed.

Readability Statistics” box in Microsoft Word:
Click the Microsoft Office Button Windows, and then click Word Options.

1) Click Proofing.

2) Make sure Check grammar with spelling is selected.

3) Under When correcting grammar in Word, select the Show readability statistics check box.

While all the statistics in the box can be useful, the two which help the most are the Word Count and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score. The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score is intended to reflect school grade reading levels.

Make sure the readability score is appropriate for the intended audience. If the writing is designated for a first grader match the reading level to a Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of 1.0 to 1.9.

If the book is to be read by a general adult population, the readability score should be between 8.0 and 9.0. This level ensures easy comprehension and retention by the vast majority of adults. Remember this is a safe range for most adults to comprehend your book.

If the writing is intended for an academic audience or a highly trained level of professionals, such as engineers or doctors, then the writing level can be 12 or higher. Jargon is permissible when writing to a specialized audience who will be familiar with this selective vocabulary.

School papers and articles for publication may have word count requirements. In general, other pieces of writing do not. Word count is important though, because readers will stop reading documents they suppose too long. They appreciate writing which conveys its message fully and quickly. You may want to edit to lower the word count.

The following are some guidelines for adjusting word count.

  1. Less than 150 words: books for children under the age of 3.
  2. 400 – 500 words (one page): business letters, executive summaries, resumes, press releases.
  3. 400 – 600 words: books for children ages 4 to 6. The word count levels mentioned here are for books intended to be read by these children without assistance from an adult. Children should be read to from books with higher word counts allowing for the possibility of growth in vocabulary and language skills.
  4. 500 – 1,500 words: Internet articles, newspaper stories, magazine articles.
  5. 100,000 – 125,000 words (200 – 250 pages): most novels.

Calibrate your review to the intended reader. If the reading level is too high, use these techniques to revise the writing.

  1. Simplify sentence structures.
  2. Use vocabulary containing three syllables or less.
  3. Use sentences with “active voice” and in the present tense.
  4. Rewrite sentences which require semi-colons or dashes to make them less complex.
  5. Trim wordy sentences.
  6. Spell out contractions.
  7. Revise a paragraph, when possible, to a list. A list, well derived, shows essentials briefly and clearly.
  8. Keep all writing on target. Eliminate rambling or pointless thoughts.

Read through again and mark possible errors. Check the following:

  1. Spelling – spell check functions can help with this task, however, look for words spelled correctly but used incorrectly.
  2. Punctuation.
  3. Capitalization.
  4. Grammar – pay special attention to skipped words since grammar check functions do not reliably catch these.
  5. Repetitious word use – use your dictionary or a synonym finder for possible alternative words.
  6. Accuracy of statements of fact.
  7. Flow and consistency of the book.
  8. Logic – make sure any argument presented is supported and follows a logical thought pattern.

Once you have marked the possible errors, research them to confirm the error and provide suggested changes. Note, always use a dictionary or online dictionary. Note references as appropriate.

Provide feedback to the author. If you are reviewing in an academic or business situation, you may have guidance on how to provide feedback to the author. If not, here is an example of how to present your feedback. This format allows the author to locate the potential change, gives a solution, and a reason for the suggested change. *If you are in Microsoft Word highlight with yellow (tool beside the text color tool). If you are proofing an actual printed document, you a red pen to mark errors. Write notes clearly, and write specific changes to make for the author.

Page 1, Para 12:
• Line 1: Delete “Not” and replace “too soon” with “later”. Reason: Places the action in the correct time sequence.
• Line 4: Replace “her nose” with “Emma’s nose”. Reason: Clarifies the reference noun for the pronoun. As it stands the “her” would refer back to the immediately preceding noun which is the crab.

More Writing Tips >> , Why Self Publishing >>

Keeping Control in Self Publishing

In the self-publishing process you want total control from start to finish. You want to make the decisions, not Mr. Big Publishing House, Inc. You want to own all rights and have complete control of your book. By maintaining control over the editing and proofreading process, you have the ultimate say with what actually stays in and what is omitted. You are again “in control” of what the audience reads as the final printed version. With big publishing houses or publishing companies, they often will want to edit and omit parts of the book you actually want to leave in. These publishing firms sometime delete too much of the important parts out of your introduction or parts of chapters that you think or know will be important to your book.

You want to remain in control over your work. You want to keep control of the entire writing, printing, & selling process. Bottom line is you have 100% control when you self publish.

Self Publish >> How to Self Publish >> Advantages of Self Publishing >>

How to Create an attractive Book Cover

(A picture says a thousand words.) We have all heard this before. Research and hard work make a great book cover. A book cover is one element that usually catches the most attention of the readers and an attractive book cover makes the 1st impression. Without reading the entire book, you are able to get the concept of the story, by looking at the book cover design.

Inspiration- Get inspired! Look at other book covers in book stores or online. Ponder the main character of the story. Ponder how you want your cover to look. Find a Graphic Designer to help design the cover. Together create or talk about the cover. Develop 10 or more cover design ideas. In the end choose two (2) that you think are stunning, and will get readers reading. Finally choose the one you think is the winner. You must get their attention. You may browse book covers with or without a similar theme. Point being to find and agree on a book cover design that is pleasing and attractive. It should represent the story.

Challenge- Designing a book cover can be very challenging. Trying to summarize the content of a book on one page is not an easy task! Looking at other book covers is OK. You are not stealing ideas. You are brainstorming to create yours. You can overcome the challenge of creating a beautiful book cover. In the end you will be pleased. And remember sometimes the most simple design will suffice.

Title- Keep titles short and sweet. A title that is easy to remember is very important. Less is more when titling. Usually using a few words works best, because people are usually scanning and will get bored or lost in a long title. The DaVinci Code is a good example of a short title. Everyone’s heard of DaVinci. Be descriptive to convey the content. It isn’t necessary to state ‘The DaVinci Code that Solved the Most Infamous Murder in Paris.’ This is too long. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. This title is short and to the point. Create a title that definitely fits your book and describes in a few words your story or message. KISS – Keep it Simple Stupid, is an old design principle to stick by because it works. Find what works for you and your book.

More on writing Book Titles next.

Self Publish >> or read Self Publishing >>

How to Create an Outline for my Book

You can’t write a good story without establishing the outline. This helps you, as the writer, to understand the big picture. An outline is a roadmap for your book project. An outline helps you on your writing journey. For example, when I read the book ‘Favorite Beaches in Florida,’ the overall topic is “best beaches to visit in the state of Florida” and the target reader is people wanting to visit Florida for vacation.

►►►Establish your Outline!

This vacation topic is narrow enough to be a great book and it has a defined audience that would be interested in reading the information. That’s important when you are creating your outline. If you begin brainstorming and it looks like your book is going to be 5,000 pages, you probably have a problem with your overall topic. Rethink your topic.

Once you have a workable book topic selected, you can brainstorm a few general areas that might be covered in the book. In the case of the vacation book, broad topics include subjects like beaches with the best sand, beaches with the best activities, and beaches with the best restaurants. After you’ve brainstormed a multitude of topics, you can start grouping them into sections. Underneath these big “section” topics, you can start devising more narrow topics, to form your section or chapter headings.

An outline can be as detailed as you want it to be. Create subheads for each chapter, and sub topics for the subheads. (You may do this for the subheads or keep the story flowing in the chapters, and remembering to unify each chapter, to define your story.) You may choose to have a great level of detail – for your subheads and sub topics. In some situations it may make sense. Remember your outline will assist you in completing your masterpiece.

Writing Tips >> Self Publishing >>

Time Management – How to Find Time to Write your Book

Braking Your Time Down-

First of all, determine how much time you spend doing things that don’t really matter in terms of the big picture? I’m not talking about things you have to do like dishes, or working at your job, or taking care of your children? These are important things in life. I’m talking about things like watching TV or playing online games or playing on your X-Box. In the long run do these types of activities really matter. Okay, some TV shows are great, but what about reruns? What about watching the commercials? Every hour of TV has about fifteen minutes of commercials. Use those fifteen minutes wisely to write your book!

No Schedule-

Writing does not require a disciplined schedule. It doesn’t require the latest, fastest computer on the planet. It does not require a $100 pen. It requires a few minutes of thought here and there, and then later, tying those thoughts together.

Always Keep Pen & Paper-

Get a pen or pencil and some paper, or a laptop…whatever is comfortable for you. Go ahead and sit down in front of the TV, and when the commercial comes on, write. Make this a habit, and you will see the results. You’ll see your book in print.

If sheets of paper seem intimidating use sticky notes, use the side of a paper lunch bag.

The point is to break big things down into small things. Rather than staying at a desk for hours, give yourself five-minute writing spurts. Challenge yourself not to fill several pages, but just a small piece of paper. If you’re using your laptop, it’s great if you can turn on the word count so you can watch it increase. Write 100 words. Then 500, or 1,000. Each evening, try to break the previous day’s record. Make it into a game. Most of the time the story will flow for you, from mind to paper or laptop.

Small Goals-

Let’s say a typical novel-250 pages-runs around 100,000 words. If you write 1,000 words a night, you’ll be done in 100 days. If you only write 500 words a night, you’ll be done in 200 days. You can take off weekends. This may boost writing chapters during the week. You’ll have a rough draft for your novel, in no time. Keep up the good work, and reach your small goals. Remember every small goal you achieve will assist you in getting your book into print.

Remember patience and determination will get the book completed.

Writing the Novel-

You may say some of my writing is good, and some of it is bad. I have to proof, and proof it again, before publishing. Your goal may be to write 500 words and those 500 words are badly written, at least you have them on paper or on your laptop. You can always edit them later. The main thing is to write. Keep writing and edit later. That’s half the battle.
If you find you don’t have time to write during a TV show, write when you are picking up your kids from soccer practice or from ballet practice. You may write some inspiring chapters or words in just fifteen minutes. Do you commute 30 minutes a day? Do you babysit 2hours per day? Do you take your kids to the park or playground for 30 minutes a day? During these precious times, you may use a recording device or voice recorder. Record any thoughts, and later type them on your laptop.

Make Time –

Do you have a lunch break at work? Even if your break time is 30 minutes, take five to write some thoughts, write something. You can always edit later.

Do you have to walk the dog every morning? After, no during this must-walk-the-dog-time use your voice recorder, and record your early morning thoughts. Remember if it’s just five minutes, this may spark your ideas for another chapter or another introduction.

Do you exercise at the gym every afternoon? Before or after you exercise use your iPhone or smart phone to record or write some brief thoughts. These thoughts may have different inspiration because you feel better when going to a gym or you know you’re reaching your exercise goals. Take time to assist your goal of writing a book, even if it’s 3-5 minutes.

Time exists all around us if we take advantage of the opportunity. If you put your mind to it you can write your book. It takes discipline-fifteen minutes a day is sufficient. Pick up your pen or open your laptop. The commercials are about to come on.

Self Publishing >> Writing Tips >>

5 More Ways to Cure Writer’s Block

6. Limit Writing Time

If you’re a procrastinator, this might work for you. It works for those under pressure. Instead of writing for an entire day. Write an article, and restrict yourself to two or three hours. Sometimes knowing that you have a whole day to complete an assignment or book will only succeed in giving you an excuse to slack off. You think to yourself “It’s okay if I hang out with the girls (for girl’s day out) because I have the whole day… it won’t take very long, and I can write later”, or “I’ll just go play tennis for awhile and maybe something will come to me.” This usually leads to wasted time. Tell yourself, for example, that it has to be completed by 1pm, no excuses, no ifs ands or buts. Make no excuses about completing your work.

7. Read a Book, Magazine or Newspaper

Sometimes scanning the headlines or flipping through the images can inspire you, when browsing through a book, magazine, or newspaper. Seeing a headline that says “Loose 10 Pounds in 2 Weeks” might inspire you to write “10 Ways to Get Fit”, and so on. Reading current news can also help you think of an idea for your personal writing adventure. Also, reading for fun can help too. If you love to read National Geographic. You may be inspired from a favorite article or subject you find.

8. Always Carry a Voice Recorder or Notebook

Write down or record your ideas…anytime and anyplace. This will provide inspiration as you use your notes or listen to your voice notes. It’s very easy to forget about the things that inspire us as we go about our daily lives, so keeping a log can be a real lifesaver. This will spark us to expound upon a topic for your next chapter or next book.

9. Mind Mapping

Brainstorming, if you will, and write all your ideas on paper. Write down anything and everything you want to say about a particular topic. Try linking together your most unusual ideas. Once you have everything written down, it’s easy to sort ideas into categories and find something interesting to write about. For example, write down all words related to a picnic. (pickles, apples, oranges, sandwiches, chips, blanket, basket, peanut butter, knife, fork ,etc) Then you may write about a romantic couple having a picnic in the middle of the park.

10. Meditation

Meditate. Having a healthy body is important. Making time to meditate helps all aspects of life. However, emotional and psychological stresses, of daily life, convey tension and worsen our episodes of Writer’s Block. The answer is MEDITATE. Meditation at the beginning of everyday, for example, brings harmony to our body, mind and soul. It helps the thought process. It will help the writing juices flow, and you’ll write better every time you pull out your laptop or little notebook. Conquer your Writer’s Block.

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