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You’ve written your family history… and you want to self-publish, either just for your family or for sharing with others. So how should you present it? Here are a few pros and cons about the various format types and how they can be used.

CD ROM – Genealogy at notes that this format has a couple of advantages: “A family history CD has the ability to hold large amounts of data in a small space, and include photos, sounds, scanned document images, and even video - something a printed family history just can't equal. And, since a CD is compact and relatively inexpensive, you can easily share it with other family history researchers at family reunions, genealogical conferences, or through the mail.”

There are a few CD creation software programs, but you can just do it yourself, making sure to save documents to it in PDF format (for easiest readability), and/or WAV format for audio files.

Video files can be saved to play from the CD, or you can link out to YouTube, where you can establish a private video channel that is not searchable from the main site.

PDFs – These are very easy to develop, right from most word processing software programs. Once you’ve got the layout you like, just “Save As” PDF and voilà, you have something you can easily email to your relatives, print a few copies of on 8x11 paper and spiral-bind, or upload to social media. The nice thing about PDFs is that you can make them interactive by embedding hyperlinks; that way, it’s easy for readers to visit websites, see video, or listen to audio files that correlate to the document.

HTML/blog or website – Create your own website with all the detail on your ancestry. Getting a domain name that reflects your family name is always a good idea (like, because then each page you add can be designated a subdomain for easy indexing (like Any documents you want to share can be saved as HTML files – even from word processing programs – which allows you to cut and paste right into your website development software.

There are other websites you can upload your family history to, as well.

Print - Writer’s Digest says: “If you're writing a family history, memoir, or book of poetry that has a limited audience, and don't want your book stocked at bookstores, using POD [Print on demand] is probably to your advantage. They are often non-returnable, not sold at a discount, and you won't have to store any unsold books.”

They define POD this way: When you “use your own money to produce books one at a time through a company.” 

Genealogy at adds this note about printing: “If you want to print under 200 copies, expect most book publishers to turn you down and send you to a quick-copy center. Most commercial printers prefer a run of at least 500 books. There are a few short-run and print-on-demand publishers who specialize in family histories, however, who are able to print in quantities as small as a single book.”

Or, if you can find a local university or library (like the Darien Library, in Darien, CT) that has their own Espresso machine; it’s easy to print just one copy for about $10, while you wait, complete with cover!


•    Get more self-publishing advice from for writing, editing and publishing advice, and get your ISBN number from
•    Take a look at the Family History Month page at ProQuest.

08 Oct 2014

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