Thoughts on Developing a Publishing Platform

Although it will always be a work in progress, this Barkers of Kincaid Mountain project does have a plan. It’s part of a publishing platform that has evolved over the years. First I was blogging individual stories – something I continue to do. Then, as the number of stories grew, I began pulling them together as published projects – some print, but most of them digital. During that same period, I’ve moved from Windows to Mac computers and jumped on the iPad bandwagon. I’ve found some amazing applications that have made writing, digitizing, photo-editing and design more fun than effort. Fortunately, most of my family have also gone mobile and all have easy access to some kind of tablet. Which is perfect now that I’ve discovered the joys of digital storytelling and publishing.

Over time I have created a publishing platform that supports my working style. It supports my publishing goals and fits nicely into the way I work. It took time to master some of the software and there are always new apps to check out, but I’m quite comfortable with it and enjoy the progress I’m seeing with my projects.

I’m using Scrivener to manage the writing effort and the Keynote presentation app for layout. I have my Scrivener projects set up by family group and each project serves as both a writing platform and story archive for that group. The collected stories in a Scrivener family project have the potential to be used in a number of different publishing projects. Keynote provides a broad range of layout capabilities and offers a lot of flexibility. I have the option to give each page its own unique look or use a template that will keep the style consistent throughout the publication. Using Keynote, I can create a book, photo album, multimedia scrapbook or even a video documentary. The one other tool I need is a photo editor. I use Pixelmator.

My favorite format is a story collection – a sort of story scrapbook. These story collections are built one story at a time as my research and writing effort allows. Because each story is laid out as one or more slides in Keynote, it’s easy to position new stories at the appropriate point within the collection’s timeline when they are ready. The result is a scrapbook where text and photos getting the design priority. Although I do include design elements in my layout, they aren’t the centerpiece of the design. My style is more minimalistic than most scrapbook layouts.

Whille I do use some purchased graphic elements in my layouts, many designers’ terms of use seriously limit the types of projects I can create. I’ve found several designers – like Catherine Haugland at Eclectic Anthology –  with liberal terms and I now limit my purchases to them. I’m also finding that it isn’t that difficult to turn my personal archives into one-of-a-kind digital ephemera which add even more value to the stories I’m creating.

Most of my publishing platforms are digital but I don’t rule out a print project. Digital offers many benefits like color at no extra charge, functional hyperlinks and the ability to update and redistribute a project at any time. Since family history is a never-ending story, there will be many updates.

Have you considered a publishing platform for your family history? If so, I’d love to hear what works for you.

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