google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html Everyone Has A Story to Tell | The Armchair Genealogist

Everyone Has A Story to Tell

Everyone has a book inside him or her, so it is said, however I particularly believe if you are a family historian you may have several.

What to Write About?

Before we answer the question of why you should write a book, let’s address what you should possibly write about in your book.

First, you have been collecting information on hundreds if not thousands of dead people over many years. Picking away at every intimate detail of their lives. I’m sure there is a story or two in there that you would love to share in a book.  Use your family history as the inspiration. Many a great book has been written on far less.

Aside from those family stories, there is also your own story. Perhaps your journey in revealing your family history has been adventurous. Maybe a memoir based around your personal journey of uncovering of a family secret, a tragedy or just an epic event in your family history is worthy of sharing. Possibly you returned to your ancestor’s homeland, discovered long lost living relatives, found a family member you never knew existed. So many possibilities for a book lie within your family history and within your experience of researching your ancestry.

Then there is your knowledge of genealogy. Perhaps you have become an expert in a particular discipline of genealogy and you want to share your understanding with a larger audience, you may wish to consider a non-fiction book. 

Do you feel you have a perspective to offer that hasn’t been covered?  How do you know? Simply go to Amazon and search for the topic you are interested in writing about? Go ahead I will wait here while you do that.....(fingers tapping on desk)

What did you find? Is there a need for your brand of expertise, is there a gap in the knowledge that is available? Can you offer a different or unique perspective? Is the most recent book long outdated and it’s time for a new and improved version....yours. Then perhaps a non-fiction book is in your future.

Maybe you transcribed a collection of documents in your own genealogy research, could others benefit from your work.  Have you considered publishing that collection?  Even though many documents are digitized and on the internet, not everything is available. Perhaps you have a collection you could provide in book format or better yet an ebook format. Who wouldn’t pay a small price to download and have accessible to them a collection of documents important to their genealogy research on there ebook reader no less?

Most likely you and I  are not going to be the next New York Times bestseller but there are still many advantages to writing a book, some much more practical then fame and fortune. Although nice if you manage to achieve both, most of us do not.

However, gone are the days of thinking you have to be some great talent to write a book, gone are days where writing a book is an elusive dream. Today it is practical to turn your knowledge, your experience and your stories into a viable, profitable book.

Today the reality exists that writing a book is for all practical purposes a great business move. If you’re in the business of genealogy then a book can benefit you in a few ways.

The Benefits of Writing a Book 

  •           It gives you credibility- a book can catapult you into an expert. With a book to your name, it can open up speaking engagements at genealogy conferences and at genealogy societies. It can expand your business opportunities as clients see you as an authority.

  •             It expands your current business clientele, brings you new clients, as you will be viewed as an authority simply by virtue of accumulating your knowledge in a book format.

  •            It can be your calling card- a business card of sorts, perhaps expensive but at the end of the day, it serves as a great marketing tool for the rest of your business. 

  •            If offers you another income stream – perhaps you already have a list of services you offer your clients, a book can be an alternative income stream. It probably won’t make you a millionaire, but it might pay a bill or two.

If you’re not looking to use your book as a business tool, but still have a story to tell, then tell it. Aside from the business opportunity, a book is a great expression of you, a means of communicating with the world and a remarkable way to leave a legacy.


Linda Gartz said...

Hi Lynn
Another inspirational post. Honestly, I sometimes feel you are writing directly to me -- (of course I know that you are choosing topics that many, many readers must find as helpful as I do). Each time I read one of your posts on writing, it gives me more and more reasons to keep at it. I've actually hired an editor to work with me to keep me on track!
Thanks for the encouraging words!

Debra Newton-Carter said...

You did a very nice job on your list post! I am a bit late on mine...still working on it though. Should be out later today.

I agree with what you've said here. I've been developing some tools which are particular to research in Craven County, NC and have thought of submitting them for publication. Also working on collecting the info I need for a book which I promised a now deceased cousin I would write. Thank you for your insight!

Lynn Palermo said...

Thanks Linda and Debra for your comments. Linda, I feel like were on the same journey in terms of writing and publishing. My posts purely come from my own experience and research as I work my own way through the process. I just feel that if I'm working through this process then others are as well and looking for the same information.
Debra, the real challenge comes in keeping your butt in the chair and writing.
Linda,Good for you for hiring an editor. Loved to hear how that process worked for you. I'm not there yet.How did you go about finding one?

Catherine said...

Hi Lynn,

I've enjoyed your posts. This one in particular has inspired me to continue the book I started only a few days ago (yep, just started) about my maternal grandfather. I've been kicking the idea around in my head for a while to write about him. Writing is in my blood, but I've often wondered if I could really do it myself. You are right. Everyone has a story. I have so many ideas from doing family research that I'm overwhelmed with possibilities :)

Lynn Palermo said...

Catherine I feel the same way, I have more story ideas then I have time. If you believe writing is in your blood, then get writing, I find the only thing that stands in the way for most people is themselves. Keep us posted on your progress.

Linda Gartz said...

HI Lynn,
I realize I never responded to your last question: How did I find an editor. I'd been seeing Sharon DeBartolo's name around for years as a contributor to Family Tree Magazine and books on writing family history. I checked out her website and decided it was worth an inquiry. I found she was both accessible (and just finished an MFA in Non-Fiction) and reasonable (I've worked with writers in Chicago Area -- and know the general range. Just google her name and you'll get to her website. If you want to write me more about it email me at