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How To Get Started With a Bang!

So many things go into choosing what to put in your publication and what to leave out.  Suggestions here are mainly provided to help decide what design and format to make your book.

One of our pressesWhile the world in general accepts that there are several main ways to reproduce books (i.e. print or copy), very few methods to produce printed books are alike.  Each print shop can employ not only a variety of presses and methods, but there are so many steps that are possible that the term "printed" doesn't really describe much once you start thinking about it. Due to the fact that a copied book production is so automated, once you determine the type of copier and quality of binding, you have a much better idea of what your book will look like.  This page will begin to discuss our production methods among other things.  We hope by doing this, you may have some idea of what actually goes into the production of a book.  Once you have grasped some of what is involved, you can go to any printer/publisher that wants to work with clients on a personal basis and ask for a tour or explanation of their processes in reference to your book project.

One of the best things to do when choosing an overall design for any product, look around to see what elements you see in other products of your nature to see what you like or dislike.  Remember this is your book, so what you want can't be wrong.  Make a list of what you like and want, then unless you are wealthy, mark the really important elements that you'd be willing to pay extra for.  Take your list in hand to your publisher and work with them to decide what things you want that will fit into your budget.  This is all ideally done before you begin producing finished manuscript pages, but can be done at any point as you prepare your manuscript.

If you are self-publishing (or vanity publishing) also sometimes known as desktop publishing, you may be keeping an eye on the bottom line.  Our company is always in search of the way to produce a great book while keeping costs down.  Because of this, when deciding on what size (finished dimensions - 6x9", etc.) you may want to take into consideration how much information can fit on a page at what cost.  An example is that with our company a book that is 6x9" and one that is 8½x11" cost the same to produce, but the author can get much more text on the larger book page.  One argument is that the smaller book can have smaller margins, however when one diminishes the margins it disturbs the smoothness of the book.  White space is important to book design.  Additionally, almost every printer has some specification as to what margins he or she need and/or suggest.

Don't make the mistake of feeling the need of a perfect book before you get your genealogy in print.  Especially with the "archival quality" push lately, some authors are choosing the budget needed for their own definition of archival quality as a reason for not publishing.  If you don't feel comfortable publishing in a printed format on your budget, consider offering your information in electronic form - with a printed book to come in the future.

Make your publication special!  While there are many ways to accomplish this, one way is to number each book of your publication.  The easiest way to do this is to place a notation such as "First Edition, ___________ of 50" somewhere in the fore pages.  When the books arrive, you number the blank and, if so inclined, sign the book.  Another way to do this is to commission a particular numbered page go in each book.  Such as with a run of 100, there would be 100 different title pages each saying a different number of 100.  This can run into some additional expense if the "one of" pages are mechanically destroyed during the publication process.  With our process, the page can be replaced if destroyed before binding.  However, the further along in the process it is when it gets destroyed means either:

  1. more expense replacing it or

  2. that number would not exist

Click here for more ideas.

We usually recommend the use of a "typeset" title page (rather than typewriter produced) for all books, as it adds to the pleasing appearance of any book. A title page may contain a photo or artwork, if you wish. We do, however, occasionally have a customer that specifies the use of his own title page, which is fine. Author supplied title pages are coming into their own with the rise of computers and authors who are gaining skill.  A page produced on a computer (digital typesetting) can look really fancy, or like it just came off a typewriter.

In today's world where it is fairly easy to "typeset" on the computer, don't settle for only text on your book cover.  While some binding types don't economically lend themselves to anything but text, with the right budget or the type of binding to best fit your expectations, the sky is the limit.  We suggest utilizing different fonts, and/or adding dingbats/wingdings as decorative "bullets", clip art, printers ornaments, drawings, photos, backgrounds and/or borders to your cover (again not all of these elements can be used on all bindings).  If a special cover layout is put together, it is also nice to match to some extent the title page.  The title page may match with font and layout, but drop border, background, and other graphic elements, though the pair may be reversed with the title being more fancy than the cover.  When choosing what to include and how to present it, one can never learn too much about Copyright: http://www.copyright.gov.

Book project with hardbound and softbound book split example.With the current economy, there are lots of suggestions devoted to producing a quality book with as little cost involved to the author as possible - this issue is no exception.  However, many family projects are the culmination of a lifetime of work, many times where the author has been setting aside funds for publication for years.  Additionally, as a labor of love, some families can't put a price on such a keepsake.  We'd like to offer a few more suggestions if "money is no object" - and ways to make the book look that way.

If a CD is to be included with your book, work with your publisher for the best way to do so.  If producing a soft bound book, a special envelope page bound in the spine might be best for holding a CD.  With a large hardbound book one might choose to glue a CD sleeve onto the end sheet, or a spindle core - if neither are available as part of the end sheet.  Of course, a CD can also be included in a book purchase without attaching it to the book - it's own sleeve/jewel case, etc. sent along with the cover letter for mail order and explained at point of purchase.

Same book project in matching hard and soft binding sample photoFinal book publishing costs can be reduced by the types of bindings that are chosen.  While a full project of hardbound books (standard, deluxe, or color) may not be affordable, a publishing of softbound books are generally within reach.  Depending on the project, it may be possible to hard bind a few of these special to accommodate special paid pre-orders, special gift and family books, collector editions, etc.  By printing the text blocks at the same time, offset orders even saves on printing, versus publishing a hand full of hardbound books separately.

You may choose to have matching stationery - including cards, invoices, inserts, etc.  This provides you and your project(s) visibility and product recognition.  If you incorporate your project(s) into your stationery and add a card or bookmark to all correspondence, you never know what interest you may pick up.

Traditional (offset) printing versus digital printing

Most printer/publishers have the capabilities to print by many methods, we offer quality offset printing from camera ready copy, as it is the most cost-effective approach to a permanent ink printed book. Due to set-up costs, we must limit our smallest run to 100 books. With our 36 years experience, it is just recently that we have found what we feel is a viable alternative.  Always make sure companies you approach to publish define their method of reproduction if you are interested in your work standing the test of time.  It is amazing to us how many books are reproduced on standard copy machines and personal computer printers that are being sold to the author as well as the customer as "printed".

When delving into the world of digital reproduction/printing, (family) historians should be sure exactly what they are paying for.  A large percentage of "digital print" that is being published is simply being produced on a digital based copy machine - sometimes even a consumer quality computer printer.  While today's digital machines (of any type) are much better than the copy machines even 15 years ago, this format hasn't been tested by time.  Much like any E-book format you can get today - it cannot be considered archival quality because of this. However, there are standards that can be met for preservation photocopying. There are some true digital printing presses - accepted and tested printing processes that receive their printable image directly from a computer rather than plate, film, or other media.  These are as archival as their printing process that have been tested over time.

Optional elements/and resources

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

Formal Copyright

Library of Congress Number


For more suggestions on this subject and more, order our book:
 

wholesale price eligibleWRITING Family History Or Genealogy For Pleasure and Profit, by Gregath Company, Inc., *updated* 2015. ISBN: 0-944619-00-2, 8½x11", softbound book, 126 pages, suggestions & examples of all facets of your project for the typist and/or computer user. Also available on disk. | Click here for more information.| G550-$20.00

Note: All G prefix books 100 pages or more, this one included, that are SB can be special ordered in hard cover edition - contact for details.

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