19 February 2011

Publishing terms for genealogists

Copyright: Protection under United States law to the authors of “original works of authorship” such as articles, books, web sites, and other creative and intellectual property, whether published or unpublished, for a certain period of time. Get the copyright basics from the U.S. Copyright Office.

Editorial Calendar: Magazines often have an outline of topics planned for upcoming issues, such as the cover story or a special theme, in addition to the regular columns or departments in every issue. You may be able to pitch a story idea that would fit with a special section on immigration, for example, if you know about the theme in advance of the lead time. Or you'd know, based on the editorial calendar, that your story idea had been covered in a previous issue.

Fair Use: Part of the U.S. copyright law, fair use allows brief passages of copyrighted material to be quoted without infringing upon the copyright owner's rights.

Fulfillment: Shipping services. Some fulfillment companies stock inventory, handle orders, provide billing services and order tracking in addition to shipping.

Lead Time: A magazine staff needs time to select and edit articles, design and layout the pages, proofread, and finalize the issue before it goes to press. So, for example, articles for an issue may be due six months in advance of the issue sell date. Check writer's guidelines or with the editor for submission deadlines.

ISBN: International Standard Book Number, a unique identifying code for every published book.

Monograph: A printed booklet, about 30 to 100 pages long, for genealogical or historical projects that are too long for an article and too short for a book. Examples include extended biographies, transcriptions, and research in progress.

Print on Demand (POD): Typically, books are printed in quantity because the larger the print run (amount of books printed), the cheaper the cost per book. For the self publisher, the cheaper cost per book sounds great...until you lose storage space in your garage for all the unsold books you need to store. Print on Demand allows you to order exactly how many books you've sold in advance, and then print more as needed. Some POD companies have set minimums and upfront fees in addition to actual print charges, so check the requirements before you sign a contract.

Public Domain: Material that is not under copyright restrictions.

Publisher: a company that purchases an author’s work. See also Self Publishing, Vanity Press, Print on Demand.

Query Letter: A short letter that pitches an article or book to a magazine or book editor. Queries should be brief, businesslike, and to the point so that the editor can decide whether your subject matter and treatment fit into the company's future publishing plans.

Rights: Magazines purchase rights from the author to publish articles. Also applies to book publishers.
  • All Rights means the magazine can use the article in any format and as many times as they wish, without restrictions and without additional payment to the author. For example, an article may be printed in the magazine and then appear on the publisher's web site, on a CD-ROM, and/or in a book. 
  • First Serial Rights gives the magazine the right to publish a work for the first time in any periodical; after that, rights revert back to the author. 
  • One-Time Rights allows the publisher to publish a work one time, after which the rights revert back to the author. 
  • Reprint Rights allows a magazine to reprint an article after it has already appeared in another periodical.

Royalty: Percentage of a book's retail sales paid by the publisher to the author.

Self Publishing: The author handles the writing, editing, indexing, printing, marketing, and sales of a book instead of a publisher handling all the details and paying royalties to the author. See also Print on Demand, Vanity Publisher.

Slush Pile: Unsolicited manuscripts sent to publishers.

Vanity Publisher or Subsidy Publisher: A publisher that charges the author all costs of printing book. Sometimes offers distribution/fulfillment services for a fee too.

07 February 2011

Top 10 genealogy writing tips

How do you turn your genealogical research into something that people want to read? Try these suggestions:
  • Read the top genealogical journals. Besides the articles, check the book reviews to see what the reviewers consider to be well-done genealogies and follow their suggestions for your own article or book.  
  • Use standard numbering systems, such as the Register System (NEHGS), the NGS Quarterly Numbering System, the Henry System, and the Sosa Stradonitz System for genealogies.
  • Develop an interesting story, not just a list of begats. Include transcriptions of family letters, journals, Bibles, and other recordsif you have them. If not, read histories of the time and place so you can create a setting for your people. 
  • Use photographs (with captions and whereabouts of originals) of people, places, and things. Use maps or other graphics to illustrate a story, such as migration patterns or land holdings.
  • Protect information about the living. You should not give out personal information and vital statistics. Beware of sharing skeletons in the closet, especially if they may hurt, offend, upset, shock, or embarrass your family members.
  • Have an editor edit and proofread your work carefully. Double-check all your facts and citations.
  • Know how copyright affects your publication.
  • Create a complete index of people and place names. 
There are lots of books for would-be writers, including a bunch specifically for genealogists and family historians.

02 February 2011

Top 10 genealogy projects to publish

Have you thought about publishing?

Ask yourself: What research have you done or what materials do you have access to that other people would be interested in?