Seeking a publisher to print my family history #general

EA Wurster

I suggest you run a few samples of your book privately through other researchers for their critical eye. No doubt you are very proud of the 600 pages and want to present the book in the best possible light. I know from years of publishing that there is always room for improvement, and the more eyes you have on the title the less likely you’ll be disappointed in the results.

For example, consistency is very important, and human proofreaders can be helpful in picking up distracting misspellings and punctuation errors. I recently put together about 50 pages on a single person, and upon each reading by myself we found errors and misleading words.

After attending to the words and sentences, the pictures and graphics need some preparation. By that I mean, if you have copied and pasted digital graphics into a document, and then printed your proofs, this may result in poorer results than if you carefully look at the originals with specific printing process in mind. Just having a PDF available for distribution is often not enough, as what looks fine on your screen can be a disaster after the press or copier makes finished copies of each page. Carefully look at the resolution of each image, and the type of line screening which will be applied when the PDF is printed. 

Whether you use color or not is a major factor. In some cases color properly printed enhances an image. Otherwise it may just add to the cost of printing. In your PDF proof, on screen, a photo usually looks fine. But when printed it may be too dark, too light, etc.

These are my thoughts which come from years of practical experience with many types of documents and publishing models.

The specific issue of a short-term publisher is all of interest to me, so I am interested in the responses which recommend specific publishers. When I looked at this topic about a year ago I was frustrated at the limitations, but I'm sure there are improvements in cost and workflow.
Ed Wurster
Voorhees, NJ
Leider | Leader | Samowitz

Jx. Gx.


There is some good advice here, particularly from David Cantor.  Having published two books through traditional, well-known publishers, I've learned a thing or two about publishing along the way. Both publishers did a good job and each had their own requirements before accepting my manuscripts. Publishers are in the business to make money and they weigh very heavily the likely sales of a manuscript against their cost to publish it. For that reason alone, you are unlikely to find any legitimate publisher willing to take on your project, which is quite massive and will have limited return on sales. There are plenty of "vanity presses" out there that will take your money to publish your work. They are out to turn a quick buck and less concerned about the quality that I know will be important to you. Therefore, I strongly advise you to stay away from these businesses. There are several self-publishing companies that do a good job and for additional fees can assist with some of the technical challenges associated with your manuscript. However, unless you are tech savvy and can easily learn all about publishing formats, book trims, types of paper, and much more, be prepared for a lot of frustrating times. I too suggest that you give serious consideration to Nina Schwartz's offer.  I'm sure she would be willing to provide you with samples of her work and make smart suggestions of what is the best way to proceed. One important point that must not be glossed over is the editing portion of your manuscript. The manuscript must be thoroughly scrubbed before you proceed with publishing.  There are several online grammar programs you can purchase that are helpful. is one of the best, but it doesn't replace professional editing by a qualified individual.  Keep in mind there are different levels of editing and that editing is much more than someone checking for spelling errors.

Jeffrey Gee

David Cantor

Lots of advice here Rich.  If you go down the self-publishing route, I suggest that you give the offer from Nina Schwartz very serious consideration.  In my experience, dealing with printers is frustrating, they never seem to give you the full picture about their requirements.  I think is because they are so familiar with the nuts and bolts of the process, they find it difficult to imagine that a client doesn't know about things that are second nature to themselves.  Nina will most likely to be able to suggest a suitable printer.  What wouldn't be good would be having invested all that time, energy and research to end up with something with which you are not happy.  Also think about how you will get a proof, for myself, editing work on a computer screen is second best to checking a physical document.  Let us know how you get on.

Bonne Chance!

David Cantor 


Problem with Amazon (Kindle Direct) is that you have to publish as a publicly accessible book - it cannot be a private copy that you make for distributing to family members. 

Might suit the same sorts of people who think nothing about disseminating private information about close relatives of other people all over Ancestry, Geni etc. 

So it depends very much what the book is......

Aubrey Blumsohn

Theo Rafael

I self published several of my father's books including one related to our family's genealogy. It is quite technical but it can be done as DIY using Amazon's service (kindle direct publishing) or it's direct competition (Ingram spark
I did all of the publishing stages myself starting from proofreading, selecting the page size, placing the photos and text in the pages, adding page number, indexing, designing the cover. Cost was zero for publishing itself, you just pay for each print copy at manufacturing cost (there's a calculator to estimate per copy cost
You can also upgrade and pay for some of these tasks to be done by their specialists.
You don't have to put the book for sale, you can simply use it as POD for yourself.

Good luck,
Theo Rafael


I have used Blurb to publish a number of books, including an 8" by 10" hardcover volume on my ancestry.  I was pleased with the quality of both pictures and text.  It is a bit pricey.  The cost for the ancestry book ten years ago was about 55 dollars a copy, and they were only about 160 pages each. Back then, however, you paid by the page.  It may be different now.  I also don't know if Blurb has a size limit.  You may want to divide your work into volumes or possibly reduce the number of pages somehow (maybe smaller size photos?)

Good luck with your publishing.

Lisa Bracco
Researching:  Myszne, Glowacz, Chodakiewicz, Kawkiewicz, Srebrowicz, Kronberg-Poland
Goldhamer, Beder (Bader)-Poland/Ukraine


Dear Rich,
All of the above suggestions look helpful.

Self-publishing usually requires you to send the book to the publisher as an already formatted pdf document.

A retired graphic designer, I can turn your manuscript and pictures into a truly professional-looking book that complies with all publisher requirements. I have designed several Yizkor books for JewishGen. If you are interested, please contact me at the email below.

Best wishes,

Nina Schwartz

Sarah L Meyer

I have looked into Lulu but have not used it myself.  
Sarah L Meyer
Georgetown TX
BIRGARDOVSKY, EDELBERG, HITE (CHAIT), PERCHIK Russia (southern Ukraine) and some Latvia or Lithuania

David Cantor


600 pages in one fell swoop seems like an ambitious target and a very hefty and possibly unwieldy book, would it be better to divide the publication up into time periods, geography, or family groupings?  I realise that this may create cross-reference issues.  I have some experience in publishing one-offs with the likes of Blurb and also self-publishing,

Blurb is expensive but then your family history is priceless, This is where I would start as a test.  The BookWright software is free to download and I have used it prepare drafts that were later self-published.  You will be able to use standard jpegs and you can cut and paste text from Word files. If you find that this isn't for you, it will have cost you only time but the experience will probably be helpful.  This approach will likely help in determining important issues like sequencing and proofing.

Self-publishing, you need a different mindset preparing files that are print-ready for a commercial printer.  It is not like sending jobs from your computer to your ink jet printer.  You will require PDF files created in something like Adobe InDesign.  If the requirement is the same in the US as the UK, every page will need to be a separate file, so that's 600 files numbered sequentially.  I use Affinity Publisher which is inexpensive and very capable, it costs about $65.00 here in the UK, you can of course download it in the US probably for time-limited trial.  As you can guess, the final cost to have your book published commercially will depend greatly on the number of copies printed.

Good luck

David Cantor


Beware of a lot of "shark" companies out there that charge a lot to deliver very little.

I have never taken the plunge myself, but I have looked into self-publishing over the last couple decades. I have heard good things about Amazon's model, though I haven't had the chance to follow up. As I understand it, they can be good for providing e-book (Kindle) editions which are obviously cheaper and easier to deliver if you have family who may not want to pay what will likely be substantial money for a printed copy of that length. I believe they can also provide those printed copies, though -- and on-demand through Createspace.

Please don't consider that a recommendation, though, just a place you might consider as you investigate.
Joe Kraus

Richard Gordon

Hello Rich,

There are 'self-publishing' companies to be found from a Google search and there should be plenty on your side of the Atlantic. The idea is that you can upload your book to a chosen template. There are pros and cons, the main pro being that you can publish one book only or more as you wish. Using a commercial printer whether digital or full colour press incurs more cost, in setting up, and there will be a minimum print run.

Good luck.

Richard Gordon

Researching: Gordon, Dawidowna
                      Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland

Rich friedman

After many years of research, I have traced my family back in Lithuania and Belarus into the 1700`s. My book is about 600 pages and has 800 photos, charts, documents etc. in it.  I am seeking advice and/or recommendations for reasonable publishers who can print a limited number of  on demand copies. Any help is truly appreciated.
Richard "Rich" Friedman
Wake Forest, NC

Researching: Kurlandchik-Seta and Jonava, Lithuania
                      Pok/Pock- Hlubokie, Belarus