You can enjoy the great pleasure that comes from giving your family members a book filled with genealogy and family history information that YOU created. Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • You will just plain "feel wonderful about it." Sharing the legacy of your family with your family is a very special thing. It is hard to put in words. I challenge you to do it and try to describe it to me.
  • This is a great way to get family members who are reluctant to share genealogy information to open up and be more helpful. They will be impressed with you and your efforts - and be much more receptive to you in the future.
  • Just by doing this - you are actually taking an important step in preserving your research work. Your family will keep and cherish your book. It will become a honest-to-goodness family treasure.

Never, ever forget that almost every person in your immediate and extended family is interested in their family history and genealogy.

Of course, your family members may not want to do any research themselves. And, some may not be very willing to help to you with your research (this is a classic pet peeve of many genealogy researchers). But they ARE still interested.

See For Yourself: Is There a "Tough Case" in Your Family?

You can especially see dramatic proof of this if there is a "tough case" in your family. Think of some gruff and grumbling old uncle or cousin (or anyone in your family) who you think could care less about the family's history.This is the first person that you want to give a copy of your book to.

Just make sure that you have some information on their family line in your book. You'll be surprised at what happens almost every time. Hearts will soften and doors will open. It is really amazing.

One time, when I found out my grandfather was coming to town, I printed up a twenty-five-page book with my computer and stuck it in a notebook. It took me about ten minutes.

He was so remarkably pleased to get it… that little book may have as well been pure gold to him. This was a touching moment in time that I will not forget. And I kept thinking to myself, "Gee - it only took me ten minutes to do this with my computer… in the old days it would've taken DAYS!

Question: So, you've decided to self-publish your book. Should you go with a genealogy "vanity publisher" (see ANY genealogy magazine) or just do it easily and inexpensively completely on your own?

Answer: DO IT YOURSELF!!! Self-publishing with your computer and your kitchen table is the best way by far. Here's why:

  • You will be one hundred times more likely to get it done: This is the MOST important reason because you can do this with the least amount of headaches and cost. So, there is a much better chance of getting it done. And when it gets done - you will reap the rewards.
  • The content is the most important thing - Period!!! Who cares if it is not a hardbound "professional" book. So what if it starts as a twenty-page book. At least you started.

So…your book is copied at the office supply store and you put it in a notebook. So what? It will be no less of a treasure to your family because of the value of the information that it contains.

Many people get hung up with having to have a "real" book printed. What is real anyway? The content is the most important thing.

As I look over at one of the bookshelves on my bookcase - I see a row of popular standard genealogy books. These are a few of the staple "regular" books, worth hundreds of dollars, that you might see in the genealogy section at your local library.

On that same bookshelf are two little cheap "report notebooks." One of them has U.S. Census information on one of my lines that someone gathered and typed back on some 1940's typewriter. The record covers a forty-year span. Back then, this was an incredible effort.The other little notebook has a copy, of a copy, of about fifteen typed pages that a long since deceased Ragan researcher compiled many years ago. It is priceless to me.

Let's say that a harsh winter sets in and the heat goes out - and I have to throw books in the fireplace to keep warm. Do you want to guess which books will get burned and which two little notebooks will be pulled from my frozen hands because I refused to let them go?

  • You can "kitchen table" self-publish quickly and make changes anytime you want: Nothing is set in stone. You can easily make changes with your computer and send it to the family members who got your book and say, "here - replace page 15 with this." You can also make additions a little at a time and have them add them to their existing copies of your book.
  • You can give your book away to your family with little expense to you. The average cost of vanity press publishing is between one and two thousand U. S. Dollars. Remember, it is business - and any publishing company will want you to spend as much as they can get.Then, you have to try to get your family and others to pay for their copy of the book to recoup your investment. What a royal headache.

Here's the Key: The giving away concept is VERY important

If you can, give them away. More people in your family will be interested in getting them. This generates goodwill and is a positive situation all the way around.In fact, don't ask anyone for money. You may be surprised when some of the family members sending you money towards your book project without your even mentioning it. If you are diligent on your end, you will be helped in different ways by your family. Mark my words on this.

It is SO EASY: Here Are Some Helpful Tips

  • Enter information one time and let your computer do most of the work: Almost every genealogy computer program that you get these days will print gorgeous pedigree charts, family history group sheets and reports. Once you enter your genealogy information in your program - with the mere push of a button you can print information that your family will be delighted to have.
  • Publish on demand: This means that you can go and have one copy made or twenty copies made. You don't have to make a big investment up front. This will work for any budget.
  • Making copies of photographs: Some genealogy programs will let you include photographs that you scan, some will not. But what if you don't have a scanner or a decent printer? Easy, use your word processor to make the pages that your photos will be on. You can measure the size of the photo and create a "blank box" with or without a border around it. Be sure to include names and dates, etc. in the caption areas of blank box. Then just adjust the size of the box on the pages so that the photos fit.

Then go down to your local office supply store. Many of them have fancy copy machines with many features. Most of the photos in your book will be black and white. Did you know that you can experiment with the contrast? Adjustments of the copier and even IMPROVE the clarity of the picture? This works surprisingly well.

A Good "Rule of Thumb" on the Content of
Your "Self-Made" Genealogy Books

You can do things however you want - but here is a good general rule of thumb on the content of your book:

  • 75% Print outs from your genealogy program. This includes: pedigree charts, family group sheets, and various reports that your particular program will generate. Remember, the computer does most of the work once you have entered your information.
  • 15% Personal notes and family stories. There are a wide variety of things that you can include here: Additional information on some of your ancestors mentioned in your book, favorite family stories, partial transcriptions from old family letters, and even recipes that have been handed down over the years.
  • 10% Photographs. Try to include a few "rare" old family photos in your book. The chances are high that many of the people you send your book to will have never seen them and be very grateful for your efforts.

The suggestions in this post have been proven to bring many rewards to those who will make a slight effort to print and share genealogy information with their families. It will happen to you as well.

And many times, being involved with such a noble endeavor can open doors that can give even long time researchers the "breakthroughs" that they have been hoping for.