google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html How to Identify the Book Inside Your Family History Blog. | The Armchair Genealogist

How to Identify the Book Inside Your Family History Blog.

For years now you've been sharing your genealogy research on your family history blog. You've been writing small snippets of stories inspired by your genealogical finds. When a story spoke to you, you shared it. You revealed your ancestors a little bit each time, their character, their obstacles, their challenges and took us to the time and place where it all played out. Perhaps you even shared the lessons learned by yourself and your ancestors. You may have written about how it changed you, your vision of the world and how you perceived your ancestors.

You built a tribe. Your family history blog has been a wonderful space to share your passion with family and friends. It’s been successful as cousin bait and a great tool to improve your writing.  Even complete strangers have stopped by and enjoyed your stories. But know perhaps it’s time…..time to repurpose your blog content. It’s time to take those years of blog posts that you loving wrote about your ancestors in and shape them into a family history book.

You may have never set out with the intention of writing a book. You may have never wrote those blog posts to be the material of a book. However unintentional, your blog posts could very well be the key to completing that first family history book. Like a lump of clay on a pottery wheel, those posts require merely some gentle guiding and shaping to produce a beautiful artefact for your descendants to hold, admire and cherish.

I’ve been approaching the blog to book project for the most part from a single perspective, encouraging the family historian to start a blog for the purposes of writing a book. However, many of you who have a blog full of content, and this content is perfectly primed for repurposing into a book. The book you never thought you could write….or would write! Today let's talk about booking your blog.   


Here’s How!


Currently you have a collection of blog posts, stand-alone pieces of writing. These individual pieces can be organized and shaped into a series of short stories about various ancestors and combined into a book. If you have enough blog posts that focus around a single ancestor or family you just may have enough material to create your first family history book or perhaps even a series of books.

Identify the book hiding in your blog and fast track your way to a first draft. ( tweet that if you like)

The 8 Step Plan


1. The first step is to identify the content of your blog. The best way to understand how much information you have on anyone ancestor or family is to take a close look at the tags or categories of your blog. You just may be surprised at how often you wrote about a single ancestor and there just maybe enough content to create a book. Is there one topic/ancestor that stands out else?

2. If you didn’t take the time to tag your blog posts, now is the time to go back and do that. Not only will it make your blog search engine friendly, but it will help you to indentify the content for your book. Once you’ve done that you’ll want to return to step one.

3. Take the title of each blog post you identified and list them out. When you wrote these posts they were stand alone pieces, but now you want to organize them so they flow together.  If they were chapters in a book, what chapter do they belong in? Create an outline with the titles, shuffle them around until they have some flow and continuity.

4. Click on each post that you have identified as a possible contender for your book. Copy and paste that post into your preferred manuscript format in the order that you have identified above. For most, you’ll be using a Word format.  I’m using Scrivener and I’ll show you why in a future posts. (Hint: a video is coming soon)

5. Once organized identify any missing information that you may need to write about to round out the story. Does a particular chapter need more to make it complete? Is there a chapter missing to make the story and book complete?

6. Transform your blog posts into essays. You can accomplish this by removing the use of lists, removing links, removing mentions of previous posts or past posts. You’ll wish to edit out any repetition, filter out addressing readers comments and questions. Remove the blog titles now, although some of them can be repurposed into subtitles or chapter titles. Remove pictures, charts and documents for the time being. You can add them back in later after the final revisions and when your ready to go to print, so be sure to keep them organized in a separate file.

7. Transform your individual blog posts into a single manuscript by filling in those missing pieces and writing transitions so your individual posts now flow from one to the next in a essay style.

8. Congratulations, you now have a completed a first draft of your family history book. While your book may not be ready for print, you have fast tracked your way to a first draft using your blog posts. You now have a working copy and your ready to begin revisions and editing.



10 comments:

  1. That works if your family history book is going to be what I call an expanded ahnentafel, or a collection of essays pulled together in chronological order; but, I am finding that by using fiction techniques for writing, we can turn our family history book into something that a broader audience would enjoy reading. I am going through the step-by-step process in my blog right now if you'd like to take a look: http://www.ibawcross-culturalgenealogy.blogspot.com

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  2. Debra, I completely agree here. Although it doesn't necessarily have to be an expanded ahnentafel, it will most certainly depend on just how the blogger wrote those initial blog posts. And they certainly do not have to be in chronological order.
    While I as well prefer using fiction and creative-nonfiction tools to write my family histories, I like to offer options for the many different family historians reading this blog. Debra,I enjoy reading your posts and I certainly value the knowledge you bring to writing family histories. You are a knowledgeable asset to anyone looking to write their stories.

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    1. Thank you, Lynn. I value your opinion because of your expertise! You have been a great encourager to me over this past year!!!

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  3. I really like your ideas. I have just recently started a genealogy blog and it is helping me to realize that although writing a book seems a bit overwhelming, that writing the stories on paper one blog post at a time is really possible. Thank you for sharing your steps for transforming those posts into the beginnings of a book.

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  4. @shellt, I'm thrilled you can see the value in writing your family history one blog post at a time. Your blog is a beautiful tribute to your Southern family. You put so much of yourself into your posts, I admire that. If there is any way I can assisted you with your journey please don't hesitate to ask.

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  5. Great tips! Luckily, I have tagged posts in my blog since day one!

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  6. I read Debra's blog and of course, read through this as well. Our story is so different and even harder to put into perspective but I am encouraged by what I have found here and will put many of these tips into use. Thanks for sharing all this information for those of us who know we want to turn our story into a book and are looking for ways to achieve it. I am using Scrivener and love the flexibility.

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  7. @Wordstock, I'm happy to hear you're encouraged and are finding methods that can work for you. Isn't Scrivener fantastic! I'm looking forward to demonstrating how useful it can serve a family history writer.

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  8. Lynn, I love the fact that you encourage to people to put the family story into a book. Since I wrote my book, it's really my mission to get people to write their story, and I also believe that a blog is a great way to get people started. Writing a family history book or memoir can seem overwhelming, and breaking it down into small section really helps. The cool thing about a blog is that it doesn't have to be in a chronological order or any real order at all. But it gets people writing and like you said so well, it becomes a great collection of family stories. You suggestions of how to transform them into a coherent first draft are fantastic!

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