Thursday, January 28, 2010

Volume Two, Years Later

Here is a dilemma that was again presented to me, so I thought I would address it here in case someone else has the same issue. You might find yourself like this gentleman who published his life history 15 years ago on legal size pages. He now wants to update his history by adding additional pictures that would be inserted into the first history and then adding a few more chapters about what he has done in the last 15 years. The hard choice is deciding on the format of this new printing.

Here are the choices: #1) Format all of the new material the same as the first printing (legal size) so that they match.

#2) Retype all of the first printing so that both the new and the old can be produced in a preferred size (6 x 9 or 8.5 x 11).

#3) Create the new chapters in a self contained book in a preferred size and copy the original book the same (legal) size and give the family two volumes (one legal size and one letter size).

#4) Reduce the original book pages to 8.5 x 11 and then add the new pages in the back so the whole book is letter size.

Here are the strengths and weaknesses that I can see with each method. You might think of some additional reasons, if so, add them as comments below.

#1) This is by far the easiest, but if you don’t like the original size or it is not preferred by the reader then its usefulness decreases very rapidly. Another advantage to this way is that you only need to copy the additional material to give to those that already have the first volume. The main disadvantage is that you don’t really like the old size (or at least your readers dislike it).

#2) This method is the most work but will yield the best finished product. The new book will be all in one volume and can be distributed to your readers as an updated history and will be in a more pleasing size. The disadvantages are that you have to spend a lot of time (or hire someone) to retype all of the text and scan all of the photos from the first volume. It will also be more expensive because you are reprinting the first volume in the new format.

#3) With this method, you are using the preferred size for the new material and not having to retype all of volume one. Volume two will be a friendlier size for the reader and for those that have volume one already, you won’t need to reprint those pages. With this method you will have two different size books, not necessarily a bad thing, but this may bother you or the readers.

#4) With this method you avoid having to retype volume one and your new edition has both the old and new all in one book. The disadvantages are that it will be difficult to read the reduced pages because the type will be much smaller. Also, the margins will be extra large on the sides of the reduced pages. And like method number two, it will also be more expensive because you are reprinting the first volume in the new format.

If you have a similar challenge, hopefully this has been helpful to you. There isn’t just one right answer, so study the advantages and disadvantages of each method and decide which will work best for you.

Chris Stevenson

If you have a question or need help with a history, please let me know. I would be happy to help.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Stories Will Make it Great

Tell a story; don’t just get stuck in the dry facts. Anyone who reads your personal or family history will likely be interested in the facts, but what they'll enjoy most and remember are the everyday details - favorite stories and anecdotes, embarrassing moments and family traditions. Sometimes it can add interest to include varying accounts of the same event from different perspectives. Personal stories offer a great way to introduce new people and chapters, and will help keep your reader interested. If your ancestors left no personal accounts, you can still tell their story as if they had, using what you've learned about them from your research. Look at historical information at the time to see what was happening in their city. Be sure to make it clear that this
information is not from their own writing but is added to give an example of what your relative might have been doing at the time. Use a phrase like "Mary didn't say this in her record but I can just imagine her ..." The stories in your history will help to make it memorable and enjoyable for the reader and satisfying to you. The Stories will make it great.

Chris Stevenson

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Video Histories

Ever since YouTube came along, the younger generation want to see it instead of read it. Adding a video DVD in the back of you book could be the icing on the cake to cause your grandchildren and great-grandchildren to really enjoy your life history. Here are some helpful hints if this is something you are considering.

There are professional companies that can interview you with a camera rolling and video some special family events. Then they will take that film and edit it into a wonderful DVD to be enjoyed over and over again. If you want to have a more hands on approach or do it on a smaller budget, you can do it yourself for a simple but effective look. I few critical things to keep in mind when you are doing a video. Be sure that the lighting is good so that you don’t show up as a black blob on the screen. Also, do the taping where background noise isn’t a problem and where you are close enough to the camera to be heard clearly.

Here are some web pages that will be a great recourse for you:

Interviewer tips:

Make your DVD fun and interesting and it will capture future audiences for years to come.

Chris Stevenson

Email questions and I’d be happy to help.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Decide Your Page Size in the Beginning

Occasionally someone asks if I can take there letter size (8.5 x 11”) book and reduce it to 6.25 x 9.5” size. I can, but the margins will are much too large on the top and bottom so it doesn’t look very good. I would suggest that you decide in the beginning on the size that you want your finished book. Then when you are typing and placing pictures in the document, everything will fit together nicely and your book will have a more professional look.

I would also suggest that you choose a good readable font. Three common fonts that are easy to read are: Times Roman, Bookman Old Style, and Garamond. Try these out and see which font you like best and find the most readable.

Another tip is to include the chapter in the header on the same line as the page number. One caution, don’t number the pages manually, use automatic numbering. This will save you hours of time and the page numbers will stay consecutive even when you add pictures and edit your book.

Chris Stevenson

Email questions and I’d be happy to help.

Here are two examples of headers with the chapter and page number on the same line: PorterV3