First, let me define what I mean by personal publishing. I see personal publishing as a way to share the stories of my family – both yesterday’s and today’s. It’s more like a technically-advanced version of the scrapbooks, diaries and photo albums of my ancestors. Thanks to technology, it has a broader reach. And, it’s not necessarily a solitary occupation either.
I’ve been blogging for more than ten years now and my fascination for this platform continues to grow. It’s easy to use, yet serves not only as a journal but also a magazine, scrapbook, photo album and even a movie theater. In addition to written stories, I can create photo documentaries with presentation programs such as Keynote or PowerPoint, audio or video interviews with Skype and even home movies with my digital camera – all “published” through my blog site.
That being said, the blog isn’t the only form of personal publishing. Today we can publish books ourselves using tools we already have and are comfortable using. And, those books can be beautiful bound volumes or e-books read on an electronic reader. We can broadcast our own video and audio productions and even serialize them in the form of podcasts. Projects in electronic formats have a world-wide reach if you choose to make them public and many family historians have made connections with distant relations as a result of their online efforts.
Personal publishing has many rewards – connecting with other family members is just one of them. Thanks to Internet search engines, a blog post from a personal blog has instant worldwide reach. As a result, a worldwide community of family history/genealogy publishers has developed. Known as Geneabloggers, this community is both inspirational and supportive. Here you’ll find you’re not the only person fascinated with dead relatives and you can share your research brick walls and triumphs with others who know and appreciate your efforts.
Although I don’t see personal publishing as a commercial endeavor like publishing a novel, I’m not against getting a little return for my effort. Once again, there are many online services that will not only help us produce our family stories, but also provide a platform where family members can order their own copies. These services will collect the money, print/produce the story product and provide all the shipping and customer service functions for you. And, if you have chosen to add a bit of profit to the cost, the service will send those profits to you as your sales generate them. All of this is done with no upfront costs and no project is too small.
I’m fascinated with the many publishing opportunities available today. The popularity of book readers and tablets have given us the ability to bring our ancestors to life in ways we couldn’t begin to imagine just a few years ago. Things are happening so fast, it can be hard to keep up.
Here at the Gazette you’ll find articles discussing the tools and resources now available to us along with project ideas to show you how to take advantage of these opportunities. And, if you’re working on a personal publishing project, tell us about it in the comments section. New ideas are always welcome.