After the hard work of writing, how do you publish your memories and stories? There are lots of options. Here’s a quick run-down on some of the most popular ones.
Simply Print and Share
Word and other editing software are basically desktop publishing systems. Once you’re compiled your memories and/or family stories, you can simply print them at home or use a local print shop to make multiple copies.
My grandmother, not sure she wanted to share her stories, never took them beyond her handwritten journal. It was my mother who transcribed and typed Grandma’s Treasure Chest of Memories. She printed every child and grandchild a copy at her local Kinko’s and put them a folder. (I would actually recommend a binder instead.)
Because Grandma didn’t want her stories to go beyond the immediate family, it was a practical solution. Though I upgraded the folder to a binder, I don’t think the lack of professional layout or illustrations made it less of an heirloom. It is just as Grandma imagined it.
Of course, it matters how widely you want to share. If you’re interested in a world-wide audience, you can go the traditional publishing route. Traditional publishing entails querying an agent, who will, in turn, try to sell your story to a big publishing house. Authors can also query small publishing houses directly.
Writers&Arists.co.uk explains why can be tough:
Traditional publishers only take on work they believe is worth investing their own money in, confident it’ll make a return when the book hits the shelves. Indeed, this is precisely the reason (or one of) it’s so difficult for new authors to get published. The publisher has to be sure that the book will sell.
Vanity Publishers: Hiring a Company to Publish your Memories and Stories
Vanity publishers will publish any work for a fee. The author pays for all the costs and takes ownership of all printed books to distribute and sell as they see fit. Some companies, especially “heritage” publishing companies will also help authors type-set and compile stories for an additional fee.
At the time of this articles’ publication, Family Search recommends the following companies which will “produce a hardbound book from your digital files:
- Stories To Tell
- Higginson Book Company
- Family Heritage Publishers
- Family History Publishers, Inc.
Self-publishing your Memories and Stories
Not too many years ago, writers only had two routes. Traditional publishing or a self-publishing model like the vanity publishing mentioned above.
Today, there are software and vendors who will help you to format your manuscript to upload to Amazon and other online book dealers. Though that sounds easy, most self-published authors will tell you there is a step learning curve when it comes to formatting your books.
The nice thing for authors is that once it is online, the bookseller takes care of the distribution of your book. If you want print books, as opposed to e-books, Amazon and its competitors also offer Print on Demand (POD). Books are printed when people order them, so neither the author or vendor has to pay up-front for inventory—or find room for storage.
For serious authors, hybrid publishers offer a middle ground between going the traditional route and self-publishing. According to author coach Jane Friedman, the services these firms offer can vary greatly and writers need to do their research before signing a contract.
Yes, blogging is a type of publishing. There’s no reason you can’t start telling your stories via a blog. In fact, that’s the way I started, with a free WordPress blog called MemoriesInTheWind.wordpress.com. It’s an easy way to share stories as your write them. Additionally, because you can use a service to print your blog posts, this doesn’t rule out having a print copy.
Read more in Blogging Your Memories: To Blog or Not to Blog?