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For three years here at “Maybe someone should write that down…” we’ve been doing just that– Writing stuff down. Lately, lots of readers have been in-boxing me asking “How to Write a Book” from all this stuff.

So starting today, and continuing over the next few Fridays, we’ll be walking through that process and taking your Family History from three ring binders and flash drives, to printed and bound real deal books…without breaking the bank.

And we’ll get it up on AmazonΒ and some other places where all those relatives who just “have to have a copy” can fork over their own cash to get one. Thus, cleverly leaving you out of the middle. And as a bonus, keeping your garage or linen closet uncluttered by a couple hundred unsold (and very expensive) copies.

Family histories are the ultimate niche book.Β So, unless you are writing about a historically significant (and widely interesting) ancestor, you are not going to get anywhere with the big publishing houses. Thankfully, in the age of e-books (think Kindle and Nook) and POD (Print On Demand–like ordering from Amazon) you can do this for your family without going broke…or getting left holding the back stock!

Some of you have noticed the new little badge off to the left margin here on my blog for PressBooks.Pressbooks Partner Badge

It’s not another of those Macy’s ads that pop up on my posts because I’m too cheap to pay WordPress for blocking them. PressBooks is the quiet little cousin of WordPress…it’s kinda new, and it’s a real game-changing-sleeper for the self publishers market–ie Genealogists & Family Historians–you know, people like us who love writing these stories down πŸ˜‰

If you are already a WordPress blog user, you’re over half-way to your new book! This is a super simple way to make a clean, beautiful, and up to professional standards interior for your book…using a dashboard and format that you are already familiar with!

I was so stoked about PressBooks when I discovered it, I messaged them and asked if I could be an affiliate (show their badge, offer my readers who use it a discounted upgrade). I’ve been on it for a couple of months now playing with the interior of a charitable anthology I’m working on, and loading content for a workbook used for the Family History Writing workshops I do locally.

I love it.

And guess what~

You can use it for free if you would like…just like its dear cousin WordPress.

Or, you can pay a little (discounted when you use my badge..from which I get brownie points, which I will be using to make my charitable one a little cheaper for me out of pocket) and get some headache saving upgrades if you wanna go the e-book and POD route with your masterpiece. The discount makes the “upgrade” cost about $75. But hold off for now, we’ll figure out if you need the upgrade as we go along.

Oh, and if you do happen to have a fancy, notorious, well known, or remarkable relative who would be of interest to a traditional publisher, PressBooks can be used (for FREE) to put your finished content into a pdf format for simple submissions while shopping agents/editors!

I’ve even been using it to edit and sample out my NaNoWriMo Novel. You know, the quasi-memoir FICTION book Mom’s been working on. The sample chapter I leaked here last week for a couple of days was written and edited on PressBooks.

To get started, I suggest that you click on the linky-dink to the left (the one above is not live, it’s just a picture) and that will take you over to PressBooks where you can sign up for a FREE ACCOUNT. FREE, as in: doesn’t cost $$, doesn’t ask for a credit card number or any of that Monkey Business. It’s just like signing up for a free WordPress blog (like the one I use…this free one has been working great for me for years).

Set up a “GP” book title. That’s my own slang for “Guinea Pig,” like “where I experiment while no one can see it.” Generally, I have a title in mind as I work on a project and use the letters “GP” before it on the title line so I can easily identify it as my practice place. You can load in via copy and paste about anything you want…an essay, a family group chart, even photos or a blog post. Or, you can type and create new content directly on the page of your book just as if you are creating a blog post. Just be sure to use the settings to make your GP “private” until you want to set it loose into the world!

I used to call the tinker around pages my “LRs” when I was fiddling with formatting and trying out new widgets and stuff for my blog.

I have an exact duplicate of this one, set to private, and named LRmaybe. “LR” of course is short for Lab Rat…but I think Guinea Pigs are much cuter…you decide what you’d like to call your experimental book. Maybe “Experimental Book” will become a hot title!

You do not have to be 100% set on a title to start making your book! You only need a “permanent” title if you chose to upgrade at some point. THEN, and only then, are you locked into the title you choose. So play it safe at first, and stick with the freebee until you feel very confident about how you want to proceed.

Now you can futz and poke and print out and decide and re-decide on fonts, layouts and formats that are available to use…all from a VERY FAMILIAR dashboard!

So what are you waiting on? Go ahead, get over there and start playing! Next Friday we’ll talk about the other considerations that go hand in hand with the interior of your book, and who it will be written for…stuff like cover art, dpi resolutions, page sizes, ISBNs and blah blah blah. Right now, make your own “GP” or “LR” and go have some fun!

If you have any questions or specific stuff you want to see addressed, either comment below or email me via Kassie dot aka dot Mom at-sign Gmail dot com , and I can get you a direct answer or work it in to future post in the series. Either way, you know Mom is always here for you πŸ˜‰

As for content, well, you’re on your own for that part! Maybe you should start writing more stuff down…Β