Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Selling your Book to Family, part 2

This post is a continuation from part 1. Here is my suggestion if you are trying to sell your book to cover most of your costs.

I suggest that you include the family in several communications as you work on your book which will help a lot when it comes to collecting the money for the books. You don’t want to surprise them with a phone call saying that you have written a book and are going to print it next week and need $125.00 tomorrow for the five copies of the book for their family. Most families won’t be in a financial situation to react that fast and will decline the books even though they really would like to have them. But if you communicate with them several times along the way, everyone will be much happier and better prepared. Contact them in the information gathering stage and let them know what you are doing and the scope of the book (who and what will be included in the history). Ask them if they have any information or pictures that could be included in the book and let them know that they will be given the opportunity to buy some copies for their family when it is done. Then contact them again when you are writing and nearing the completion stage. Tell them that you anticipate printing the books in a few months and that the cost of the book will be about X dollars (you can get a ball park estimate from most printers that will help with this part). The next contact can be when you have finished the book and have the bid in your hand. You now know how much it will cost to publish and can estimate the shipping costs. Contact all of the family letting them know what is included in the book, the number of pictures and number of pages of the book. Let them know some of the key stories and important information that is included; this way the can see the value of the book. Then tell them the price of the book and the shipping costs. Let them know what date you need the money to be included in the advance orders. Then, here is a tip that I learned a long time ago, tell them that there will be a few extra copies of the book that will be available to purchase after they are printed and the cost is $5.00 or $10.00 more per book. People love to save money and they will be more willing to meet your deadline so they can save. You will still need to follow-up after the deadline with those that don’t order to see if they just forgot to order the books or if they really don’t want some, but you will have a much better response with this tip. (Be sure to read my post about printing a few extra copies.)

I hope you find this helpful as some of my other clients found in overcoming the financial hurdle that may be keeping you from moving forward.

Chris Stevenson

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Selling your Book to Family, part 1

There are three schools of thought when it comes to financing a family history project. First, you might be publishing it to sell for a profit. Second, you could be financing the whole project and are going to give copies away as a gift. And third, you are going to sell the copies of the book to try to break even or recover most of your expenses. I have worked with all three categories of people, but the most common by far is the third category, so that is the focus of this blog.

First, let’s take a look at the expenses of a family history book. They will include costs for gathering the information, such as buying certificates or mailing expenses writing to people who have the information that you need. There are expenses associated with writing the history like the paper and ink cost for printing all of the editing copies or maybe you bought a scanner to scan the pictures. Then there is the expense of printing and binding the book. And lastly there are the shipping or distribution costs. (You probably noticed that I left out the value of your time spent on the project. That is because if you are producing the family history to get paid for your time and effort then you would fall into the category of selling for profit, so I’m not covering that in this post.)

Typically, most people that I work with are only trying to recoup the cost of printing, binding and shipping. All of the preparation and writing expenses are a gift they give to the family. It isn’t too hard to figure out the amount of money that you need to cover the cost of printing, binding and shipping when your book is all ready to print and you have bids in your hand. But the problem is when your book is all ready to print you will want to do it right away and you will need to pay the publisher to produce the book.

In the next post I’ll give some suggestions to overcome this challenge that have worked well for others. (I’d include it in this post, but it would be too long. Besides this gives you something to anticipate for next week.)

To be continued …

Chris Stevenson

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Old to New

Some days “change” seems like a bad word. It seems to me that things are changing at a faster and faster rate. Don’t get me wrong, I like the changes and the convenience of the newer software programs and the easier to use devices. I’m glad that smart people are figuring out how to make my life easier. The problem is not only learning the new programs (I understand that they are called apps now) and devices but converting all the old files to the new formats. (You may have guessed that I am going to focus on computer file changes for this blog.) Every now and then I need to look at an old file that I used years ago. The information is still valuable and it will save me a bunch of time if I can open the file and modify it instead of retyping the file. For word processing files, most of the time I am able to open the file and convert it to my latest version. For instance, years ago I used WordPerfect for word processing. I have hundreds of files in WordPerfect file format. Today I use Word 2007. If I need to open a file that is in WordPerfect 5.1 format, Word won’t do it. I first have to open the file in WordPerfect 9.0 and save it in that format, then I can open it in Word. My worry is, someday my future computer might not allow my WordPerfect to work with the operating system, so I won’t be able to access the information. The exact same problem could happen with my genealogy program. If I have a data file that is from PAF 2.31, I might not be able to open it in RootsMagic which is what I am using now.

The solution is to migrate the files with you as you move forward. I know that it may seem like a waste of time and you might be thinking that you will never need the file again. If that is the case, then delete it. But if you think that there is a chance of needing it, then set up a routine for changing all 0f the files to your newest version of software. My suggestion is to do this every time you get a new computer or each time you get new software. After you get used to using the new program or computer, then plan a time to methodically go through all of your old files to delete them or convert them. This is an investment in the future. Especially if you have gathered information for years for a family history that you want to eventually publish. If you are like most people who bring in their old program files to us and ask if we can still open them because they can’t, then you will be very happy that you spent the time moving the old to the new.

Chris Stevenson

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Multiple Volumes

How many pages can I fit into one book? This is a question that I get asked every now and then. They usually have a very long history and need to know at what point it would need to be split into two volumes. I think there are two different principles involved. First, is there a logical split because of the content? If you have two different family lines then it might make sense to split it into two different books. Second, if the book is so large that it is going to be hard on the binding as well as uncomfortable for the reader to hold, then two volumes makes sense. The general guidelines that I use for hardbound books is a minimum of 100 pages (50 sheets) and a maximum of 700 pages (350 sheets). If your book falls between these two numbers then you should be just fine. If you are less than 100 pages, then you might consider changing the binding to a soft bound book. The harder situation is when you are over 700 pages. There are a few things that you can do to make this fit into one book. You can change the margins to a smaller number and you can change the point size of the font to a smaller font. Both of these will decrease the number of pages in your book but will also make it a little harder to read. Hard choices. If your book is still too long, then you should decide to separate it into two volumes. Oh, and by the way, good work gathering and writing all that information. That many pages represents a huge effort.

Chris Stevenson