My family history book is now being printed at lulu.com. Here’s how I got there.
1. Decide what to sections to include. I reviewed in my last post “Putting Together a Book about the Darlings“ that I was including a chart of ancestors for my grandmother, Edna May Darling, a separate Ahnentafel for each of her parents, a place usage report for direct ancestors only, a name index, and a 150-page section of photos, blog posts, records, and clippings. Tip for next time? keep thinking. Not sure this selection couldn’t get better.
2. Make the report sections using software. This is really the easy part, if you are careful about consistent details in your tree software. I created these reports in Family Tree Maker. I have found in the past that software-generated reports will easily print on the book publishing sites. So I wasn’t too worried. I made and saved each report, and if I later updated any data, it automatically updated next time I opened things. I compiled the reports in a “book” in the Family Tree Maker software, which I then turned into a pdf and moved into a special folder. I used standard fonts. The page size was 8-1/2 x 11, so I just stayed with that. Tip for next time? Carefully save the formatting for each type of report with a name that indicates it is for a book. Those formats can be reused.
3. Make a title page and table of contents. I spent way too much time on this. The Family Tree maker “book” called for a title page (it was mandatory). I quickly realized it would let me make the title page more than one page long. That seemed good, so I added a dedication page and a little other information. What was tough was formatting those pages in Family Tree Maker. Things had a set place that couldn’t be adjusted. Pictures clung to the top edge of the page. Four pages would turn to three. I wasted a lot of time on this. Far better to have used that mandatory page for just a brief note or discarded it from the final version later. I eventually realized I should make my own title pages in Word. I did even worse with the Table of Contents, and I used separate ToC’s on the Reports section and the Pictures/Stories section. Should have combined them myself up front in my own Word document. Tip for next time? Make the title page and a complete table of contents in Word. In fact, such a document could be re-purposed from book to book. If you are doing this, make sure page numbers don’t start in the initial section of the Family Tree Maker book.
4. Compile pictures and stories. I have many pictures which I wanted to record, with names, in the book. I have some clippings and stories, and a small sampling of records which are of particular interest or curiosity. I also had about 20 blog posts on this branch of the family. The question was, how to arrange them? I really agonized about this. My family are not genealogists. I decided to start with the most recent folks, whom they would recognize, and move back to the earliest. Except, I organized the material into about 10 chapters for specific family names. Each chapter went from more recent stuff back to earlier material, and the names were in sequence from our most recent ancestors back to earlier. Many family names were skipped, of course – it’s just a collection of what might be interesting to them. Tip for next time? as I’m working at genealogy day to day, make an extra copy of the interesting stuff to save in a separate folder (called, for instance, Darling Book 2014 or Baldwin Book 2013)
4, cont. – Add the blog posts. I found that copying and pasting from the blog onto a Word document worked pretty well. I arranged the blog posts in amongst the other materials in the order described above. But when I really looked at them, and did some final formatting, I realized I had lost a lot. The blog has a style sheet that determines, for instance, what a bullet point looks like, or how a headline is formatted. But much of that was lost or compromised by cutting and pasting. The posts didn’t look as good. Using lots of page breaks, I managed to move the pictures around more attractively without having them jump around. So that helped. Then I gradually reformatted various headings, captions, and spacing to make things appear more uniform and clear. Tip for next time? Either find some special product for transferring blog posts, or throw them all into one document BEFORE adding extraneous things, and revise the formatting first.
5. Add last minute content. There were topics I had never blogged about, that I thought my family would care about. I thought my mother would like to see the memorial to her ancestors Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick on Long Island so I asked blogger friend Heather Wilkinson Rojo if I could borrow three of her husband’s photos, taken on a visit this summer and used in her blog Nutfield Genealogy. She said yes! Tip for next time? I really wouldn’t be that comfortable asking friends to borrow their text. But borrowing with permission pictures from the distant cousins I’ve met online, or from other interesting blog posts about the areas where my ancestors lived might have been fun and not too intrusive to ask.
6. Format the picture/stories section. I had already finished the Family Tree book so I used the next number to begin my picture/stories section. Setting custom page numbers was easy in Word. Then I divided the Word document into sections, so that I could give a chapter heading up at the top of each page. I used odd and even page settings for this. I also spent lots of time making sure various things started on an odd page, so the book would look better. The trouble began when I found a cool font, Primitive, for my title page and headers. I used it in lots of places. I colored it a sort of sepia. It was fun. Tip for next time? Never, ever use weird fonts.
7. Combine all sections into one pdf. There were three documents – the 4-page title page ( a Word document saved as a pdf), the reports section (the pdf book I downloaded from Family Tree Maker) and the Pictures/stories section (a Word doc saved as a pdf.) I put them into one pdf using the full version of Acrobat. Tip for next time? Always have at least one blank page in these documents. That way, you can copy it to add a page here and there in the final pdf if needed.
8. Find a book publishing site. I have used lulu.com about 6 times and find it very easy to use. But I wanted to shop around for price (since I wanted to print in color) and so I explored other sites. I was surprised at how confusing the other sites were, and at the different business models I saw – some wanted you to sign up for a “consultation”; some wanted to sell you a “package” starting at $350; some seemed to have no pricing that I could find. Well, lulu.com, baby, I’m back. Tip for next time? I had read a few negative things online about the quality of CreateSpace on Amazon, but they are cheaper, so sometime when it’s not a gift, try them.
9. Upload. I uploaded the complete pdf. Things went terribly wrong. Lulu said the fonts were not embedded. Let me just say, based on experience, I knew it was the Word docs, not the Family Tree Maker pdf, causing the problem. The first thing I tried was downloading a set of pdf formatting preferences from the lulu site, and using those in Acrobat. Oddly, that helped but didn’t solve it. I also tried saving the document as a PDF-A. I didn’t know much about any of this but figured it out as I went along. The problem with PDF-A turned out to be that only single documents could be saved as PDF-A; the compiled set of three docs in one could NOT become PDF-A. But by this time I only seemed to have one conflict, which was that the Primitive font was not embedded. Well, I thought, get rid of that font. I went through the two Word docs and changed that font, including all chapter headers. Combined. Uploaded. Nope, still showing Primitive not embedded. Fussed some more and found a way to search in Word by format, and specified that font. You won’t believe it, but it turned out I had blank lines which were technically in the Primitive font. REALLY? That’s someone’s idea of a problem? Fixed that. Combined. Uploaded. Cha-ching, all set. Tip for next time? Get a good night’s sleep.
10. Make a cover and print. In the home stretch now, I made a book cover using the tool in lulu. I went with whatever standard cover came up. I made a pretty collage in Picassa of some folks mentioned in the book, for the front cover. I grabbed some text about my family from a blog post and used it on the back. I like to enlarge all the text on the cover, especially the spine. I changed the spine color to match the color of the collage background. I kept the book in my account and ordered a few days later when lulu was offering 20% off. It was shipped the following day, which was quick for lulu, and very commendable. Tip for next time? Make any collages, formatted pictures or cover text FIRST when you still have lots of enthusiasm for the book.
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