google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html Five Steps to Funding a Family History Book | The Armchair Genealogist

Five Steps to Funding a Family History Book

A few people have asked me how I went about funding my family history book. Many want to make a book, however they soon discover that it can be an expensive proposition. After having been through the process of writing and selling a family history book to family members, I have learned some important lessons on reducing the cost of your book and making it affordable to all family members.

Here is how it worked for me. We created a beautiful 190-page book through Ancestry.com. We chose this program because in our opinion it was the best on the market, however probably the most expensive. When all was said and done our book came in at $117.76 per book, (I can here you all gasping, and trust me I did as well).

Let me start by saying, it was never our intention for the book to be that expensive, but we decided the path and chose to reduce the cost through other measures. At the end of the day, we were able to sell the book for $55.00 (at no expense to us).

I have created a list of options to consider helping you reduce the costs of your book. You can use all of them or choose ones you feel most comfortable with for your situation.

1. Seek out Sponsors /Advertisers

Consider offering a memorial page in your book. For a fee, you can offer relatives an opportunity to pay tribute to a relative who has past while collecting funds to help reduce printing costs. Alternatively, perhaps some relatives with businesses would consider taking an ad on an advertiser’s page/ sponsors page. You can sell spots; family members can advertise their business or just provide sponsorship for a fee in exchange for a place of recognition in the book.

2. Donations

You can seek out donations, anonymous or otherwise, this can greatly reduce your costs. We received several anonymous donations. Don’t under estimate this option. Let it be known you are looking to reduce costs so that all family members can afford a book. Donors looking to provide a greater good for the family will welcome the opportunity to help.



3. Printer Discounts

Many printers set their prices based on the number of books you order; the more you order the greater the discount. We took a pre-order for the book, to determine how many books we would require. If we sold over 20 books, Ancestry would offer us a volume discount. We sold 75 books; this resulted in a substantial savings.

4. Fundraise

If you have a family reunion, consider having a fundraiser for the family history book. A silent auction is great fundraiser. Ask relatives, to bring or better yet make something for the auction table and sell them off to the highest bidder. A family yard sale is another great way to raise funds. We received book expenses raised through a fundraiser at the previous family reunion.

5. Size of the Book

Many print-on-demand companies offer a base rate. This base rate allows you to print a book up to a certain number of pages before charging you for every page after that. Once you go over the page limit then the book becomes exponentially more money. Although I seriously did not follow this tip, I can certainly recognize the effect it had on the price of the book. For example, Ancestry.com gives you a base rate of $29.95 for the first 20 pages. Everything after that is an additional charge of 75 cents a page. Therefore, if you can keep your book to a reasonable size it will go a long way to keeping the cost down.

After all our discounts, donations and sponsors, the cost of the book came down from $117.76 to $55.00. We were able to order 75 books at this price, and this included a couple of free books for the authors, the archives and a couple of relatives who were instrumental in providing information for the book.

Once you are ready to order, ask for payment upfront so when the bill comes in you won’t be left chasing down money or are stuck with books you can’t sell.

I knew I had a sizeable audience to sell to, and they knew they were in the book, so this made it a far easier sell for me. The key is to know what your audience is willing to pay, whether that be a free or a $55.00 book, or somewhere in between. Then you take the necessary steps to create a book that falls in their price range.

I wasn’t able to create a free book, but I reduced the cost by over 50%. I suspect if I had chose a more inexpensive program, or reduced the size of the book, I have no doubt that I could have created a free family history book. However, I believe we created a beautiful book and at an affordable price.

The lessons I learned certainly paved the way for the next book, I hope they can for you.

Have you published a family history book? How did you fund it? Share your ideas!

Related Reading
The Ultimate Guide to Writng a Family History Book

6 comments:

  1. I can't do one side without doing the other. Don't tell me your not planning a second book. It's like child birth you soon forget all the pain. Certainly won't be as big as this one. Are you looking for a new job as graphic artist?

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  2. Great article! Thanks for sharing! I'll keep this in mind.

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  3. I'm curious...when you were putting the book together, did you make a book for just one branch of your family or did you do it for both of your parents and their families on back as well as your spouses family or did you do separate publications for each branch? I ask because I've discovered that doing both of my parents and their families and including my spouses will take up a lot of space in the book. Also, did you go back just through immediate connections or did you include all the research for all of your cousins too? I mean, some of the branches branch off in large families. Back in the pioneering days families were huge to work the farm and stuff. As I look at all the information I've compiled, I just don't know how to put this book together. This is my single biggest issue to overcome.

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  4. Troy, my first book contains only my father's family. I am know compiling a book for my mother's side. My research followed my main lines. I come from a very large family so I understand your problem Here is how I laid out mine. I started with my father's paternal line. I demonstrated the line as far back as my research allowed, told that story. I then told the story of my father's maternal line, again demonstrated the line as far back as my research allowed. That constituted the first half of the book. I then told my Grandparents story and brought it up to the present including all my cousins 42 of them, their spouses and families. I believe the book finished out a 200 pages. Not an inexpensive book to make, it was full colour, coffee table style book hence why the fundraising becomes an important part of the process. Stick to your main lines, you can certainly list family and names, but keep the stories focused on your main two lines, you can include stories of their spouses to some degree, but certainly need to set yourself some perimeters. Hope this helps Troy. Keep me posted.

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  5. Thank You! This is the format I've been looking for - except my plan is to do my mother's line. What to include indeed, my mom is the 6th of 14 children. I seriously have lost track of how many cousins I have now. I'll stick to the main line!

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