Your family story will engage readers if you choose a strong angle

Your family is a powerful inspiration to write – your partner, children, siblings, parents, your ancestry, your genealogy indeed. Your family story could be about close family – perhaps something a relative did that was out of the ordinary or who has had an extraordinary life. Or about the wider family, as in a family history stretching back perhaps a few generations but also bringing the stories up to the present day. Or is it a family story of your own life – your grandparents, parents, siblings and offspring – and a way of passing down recent family memories to future generations?

The family is such a treasure trove of incidents, characters and memories. As you do your research, try to detect a strand or angle or theme, rather than setting out to cover everything. This will help you establish the boundaries of the tale, allowing you to focus and to deliver a family story that will captivate your readers.

Family story

The process of writing a family story can take many forms. You may be writing up existing accounts, from diaries perhaps, and providing introductions to them, playing the role of editor or curator. You may be playing the role of journalist by interviewing family members to capture their stories – a good voice recorder is essential here if you aren’t to miss something important. You can get them for your mobile phone and pause the playback when transcribing. Take a well-lit head and shoulders photo of the smiling interviewee while you are there. On the other hand, you may be recalling your own stories with the help of documents and photographs in your collection.

Cover of John England's autobiography IN MY LIFE. It shows a map of the UK together with photographs of the homes where John has lived.

Photographs are a great way of triggering memories for your writing and some photos may also make it into the book – but be selective. If your family history comes up to the mid-20th century and beyond then there will probably be colour photos. So the book will be printed on Into Print’s print on demand (POD) colour presses. As a result, we can use colour in other aspects of the book’s design (tables, illustrations, magazine style blocks of colour) and sepia photos will look like the originals. If the book is about an era before colour photography then black and white photos can be reproduced in ‘grey scale’ with and the book printed on the black and white POD presses. Into Print helps authors with advice on how to best scan photographs, maps, illustrations and other materials that may be relevant to telling your family tale.

Meet the ancestor(s)

You don’t have to do all the research and writing yourself. Some self-publishers produce their family history book by commissioning the writing and the necessary picture research separately. At Into Print, we are experienced at managing the book’s production by liaising closely with everyone concerned. We take in the words and images to create the book artwork and then send proofs to our self-publishing client for final approval for print and distribution.

Book cover of The Watsons of Kilconnor, written by Australian historian Peter Coutts.

A launch party with lots of family members invited ensures good initial uptake of the book. It’s best to check with guests ahead of the event to establish the quantity required. Into Print prints and ships and then the host self-publisher hands out the books personally over drinks and canapés.

Genealogy

Genetics and statistics combine to tell us that we are all descended from people in the not unimaginable past, the whole human race from all the people alive just 3,400 years ago, for example. The last common ancestor of all people with longstanding European ancestries lived in 1400 so kings and queens may well be in your lineage somewhere (see Adam Rutherford’s How to Argue with a Racist.

Libraries and local genealogy clubs can point you to the resources and techniques to research and record as can websites such as Ancestry. There are software apps to help organise your information into meaningful family trees and to scrap book documents and images. These have export options to formats such as JPEG and PDF, which can then be submitted to Into Print, along with your commentary in words, to create book artwork.

Cover of Family History book by Con Doherty.

At Into Print we’ve enjoyed designing and printing some impressive ancestral histories made up of family tree diagrams, groups of old and current photographs, illustrations and maps. A genealogy is a special kind of family story and often deserves to be presented in A4 or American A4 hardback, sometimes with an outer jacket which wraps around the book cover (which becomes an ‘inner’ cover). You can specify that the jacket and the cover are the same image or you can have a striking outer jacket together with an impressive single colour cloth inside cover.

Enjoy your family story writing project

Researching and writing family-based stories can be great fun, so enjoy the process and get in touch with Into Print for advice if you get stuck. Give yourself a deadline so that the project doesn’t drift – the end game is to publish and make your work available to a wider audience, even if that’s just a wider family audience. Into Print sends out data about your book so that booksellers around the world will list it for sale. That means the distant cousins in Australia can buy a copy from amazon.au and the nephew in Los Angeles can pick one up from barnesandnoble.com. So sharing your family stories with relatives, wherever they may be, is easier than ever.

Don’t necessarily wait until near the end of your research and writing. You can ask our editors for free advice (no obligation) early on to get an idea of the costs involved and perhaps some time-saving suggestions. Fill in our form to request a free quotation.

Academic book – increase reach

Academics write books to circulate their research and to popularise their subject of study. There are established academic publishing routes for the academic book but these do not rule out the parallel use of self-publishing channels. It’s possible to publish an academic book through an online publishing platform, even to publish as open source on a research website, AND to use print on demand to publish with a cover price and to earn sales income for the author or authors.

Publishing an academic book as open access in PDF or EPUB format – to further the cause of learning or to fulfil a contract (e.g. for the receipt of a grant) – shouldn’t preclude a print edition with a cover price. Authors should check that they are retaining rights to publish such editions and not handing over those rights to platforms that don’t have any reach in the book trade.

Publish everywhere – translation, multiple edition

Also, authors should hold on to translation rights so that they can respond positively to interest from publishers who are willing to go to the expense of translating their work for new regions. Or authors may collaborate with a translator (perhaps a fellow academic in another region) to publish their own work in another language.

Publishing a print edition through the book trade widens the availability of an academic book to individuals, including students and teachers with no access to academic publishing networks. It also provides easy access to a hard copy for librarians, through their usual electronic searching and ordering services.

Two page spread of Joint Innovations book by Dolors Masats showing a table on the left page and some teaching materials on the right hand page.
Joint Efforts for Innovation: Working Together to Improve Foreign Language Teaching, reporting on research carried out at the Faculty of Education of the University Automoma de Barcelona, was published under an open access license. Into Print produced the print edition for general sale and the interactive PDF for upload to an appropriate open access platform.

Reaching out

Often ‘paid for’ may reach the parts that other book services can’t, including librarians and bookshop managers on campus. Sometimes a ‘free’ edition may not be accessible to a potential reader, either because there’s a platform of some kind hosting the edition which is itself inaccessible or because of geographical reach.

Academic authors can call on a service such as Into Print to take care of the production – the correct resolution for illustrations and photography, the clear layout of tables, the correct presentation of footnotes, references, bibliographies, indexes and contents lists. The text can be in non Western languages and character sets, such as Arabic or Tamil. A good example is Marianne Bentzen’s Neuroaffektive Bilderbuch which has been published in a number of languages.

This production workflow takes your book smoothly through to PDFs (of cover and internal pages) for you to approve for print and distribution. Distribution is to 17,000 libraries and book resellers. They will all receive an alert to the new book, its content and the intended audience.

Knowledge production

Some authors may not be academics themselves but possess knowledge in their professions that teachers and students would find educational. Into Print can point to some successful text books and provide guidance about writing books for a school or higher education audience.

Into Print also creates interactive PDFs and EPUBs so the same document can be repurposed for open access electronic versions, which will contain live hyperlinks to external URLs and to internal bookmarks. So working with Into Print can result in free and paid for electronic editions, and print editions.

The print edition becomes available for short print runs, for example to put in delegate bags at an academic conference, and to fulfil orders through the book trade.

In a best possible scenario, the book finds its way on to a curriculum as a recommended student text and achieves a measure of financial success, as well as increasing the sum of knowledge in the world. Win-win. Contact our editors for free advice (no obligation) or a costing (quotation) of your academic book project. Fill in our form to request a free quotation

Celebrate good times – with a celebration book

A celebration book full of photos is a good example of how books aren’t always about ‘publishing’. You can get creative with words, photos and illustrations for an audience nearer to home. You may want 50 copies of your family genealogy for family members only. In your business you may have a requirement to print training manuals which require regular updates.

If you have a special occasion coming up, your celebration plans may include sending special guests a memento of the important occasion  – wedding, anniversary, christening, awards ceremony. Having invested in high quality photography, why not print some celebration photo books?

An American A4 landscape hardback with Premium colour printing is perfect for celebration photo collections of all kinds – weddings, birthdays, anniversaries.

Wedding book cover, showing front cover with bride and groom and back cover with various photos from the wedding

Send us your choice of professional photos on a USB stick or ask your photographer to share a ‘cloud’ photo folder with us. We’ll follow your running order and layout brief to create a unique record of the special event. 

You can have landscape photos going edge to edge and the cover is hard-wearing and glossy. 24-page American A4 hardback landscape, 10 copies delivered by courier to one UK address, only £299.

Or 24-page square 216mm x 216mm hardback, 10 copies delivered by courier to one UK address, only £199.

Please note that the service is also available worldwide, with equivalent pricing in local currencies (subject to additional carriage charges depending on location). Call Mark Webb on 01604 832149 to discuss your celebration book project. Or drop us an email – intoprint@live.com – or fill in our quotation form.

Sustainable publishing

The colour of self-publishing has turned out to be green

Self-publishing is surely the ‘greenest’, most sustainable, way of printing and distributing books. It’s not clear that the book distributors who first devised the idea of print on demand (POD) were thinking about the environment and some form of sustainable publishing. Rather, they were more likely thinking about globalisation and how to efficiently make books available everywhere in the world.

Distributing a single book ‘virtually’ to anywhere in the world luckily turns out to be much more sustainable than printing lots of books in one location and moving them in containers to hubs and then onwards to bookshops and readers.

Long-life books

Self publishing authors can rest assured that they are going into print as sustainably as possible. The books have a long life ahead of them. In addition, the print on demand process uses paper materials that are recyclable and cuts down delivery mileage.

Cover lamination helps prolong the ‘shelf-life’ of a book by protecting it from damage and spillage. Readers are constantly interacting with the surfaces and binding of a book, and a non-laminated cover won’t survive for long. The prolonged life provided by lamination results in a vigorous second-hand market for books, in charity shops and in online marketplaces such as Amazon and Ebay. We are all familiar also with book swap boxes in doctor’s surgeries and holiday homes.

All of these opportunities for re-use mean that each book does its job not just once, but many times over. That’s making the most of the original energy and materials that went into its manufacture.

Green painted one person car on illustrated globe with daisies and trees and birds to represent a sustainable energy future.

There’s always more to do of course. The lamination (used to protect a book’s cover) may restrict the re-use of the paper board. However, there are already laminations based on plant material that can be recycled and POD books are likely to benefit from these in the future.

Hardbacks are another super-efficient way of reaching multiple readers from a single copy of a book, through their re-use in public and academic libraries for example. Into Print sends metadata about an author’s book to the librarians, who can read details and see previews of a book on screen to check its suitability for their readers.

No-waste and low mileage

The POD factory only prints to order so there is no wastage. A reader enquires at a library, gets a steer from a friend, asks at a bookshop, or browses his or her favourite online bookseller. The resulting electronic order triggers the POD factory to print and bind a book. It does this by referencing the PDF artwork associated with the unique ISBN of the book, which is stored in its PDF database.

The factory is local to where the order was placed and so the printed book now travels the least possible distance. This one book – it could be your book if you are an author using Into Print – travels to the library or bookseller in the same box as a lot of other books collated from many different publishers and independent authors at the POD factory. This wholesaling process also minimises the environmental cost of transport.

Forest-friendly and recyclable

The paper used in the main POD factories have Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) chain of custody certification. The FSC Chain of Custody (CoC) system allows the tracking of FSC certified material from the forest to the consumer. By signing up to certification, the POD factories help independent authors create books that are produced responsibly. In turn, this helps readers when they are deciding to consume books responsibly.

The Earth911 website has good news on inks, suggesting that most inks used in printing are based on soy or other vegetable oils. Although soya bean growing is debatable in itself, this does mean that the paper and ink can be recycled together and that the paper can go back into the production of another paper-based product such as kitchen roll.

Although at Into Print we like the colour green, we don’t use it exclusively in our designs. Nevertheless we are happy that all of our books have green credentials and contribute to sustainable publishing. If we can help you do the same, please fill in our form to request a free quotation.

How Print On Demand enables self publishing

Print on demand (POD) enables authors to supply their book to the book trade, which is made up of booksellers, wholesalers, libraries and library suppliers. Print on demand has been designed so that authors can price books competitively for the customer (the reader) and offer the book trade an acceptable discount and a timely delivery service.

POD is lean and just in time manufacturing which works for both author and bookseller. So the author can concentrate on the fun of creating content and invest any budget in book promotion. Authors don’t need to tie up resources in the heavy lifting. POD takes care of the manufacturing and the logistics.

In other words, POD makes and ships a book when an order (demand) is received. Zero demand = 0 book. Demand for 1 book = 1 book, demand for 2 books = 2 books etc. The press prints from a library of PDF artwork, which Into Print prepares in industry-standard typesetting software.

The POD press references the PDF artwork to print the sheets, cut them to size and bind the sheets into a cover board to make a book. The factory line packages the book(s) and sends them out to the purchaser – usually a book seller.

Print on demand widens availability

The print on demand ecosystem goes much further than just printing. It includes electronic ordering from book wholesalers and retailers. When a bookseller gets a customer order, it sends an electronic message to the POD factory. The message contains the unique ISBN associated with the PDF artwork for that book title. The order triggers the printing and binding of that book, its packing and shipping to the bookseller’s address.

When you work with Into Print, we hold your hand and show you how it works; so you can decide how to use it most effectively for your book project. Fill in our form to request a free quotation.

Photo of author Kevin Marsh signing copies of his thriller The Witness. Kevin took pre-orders and assessed the number of books required for the launch and placed a print on demand order with Into Print specifically for the event.
Author Kevin Marsh signing copies of his thriller The Witness. Using print on demand, authors can order just the right number of copies for pre-sales and launch events.

Print on demand is economic and green

POD means:

  • no risk selling for authors.
  • you don’t have to commit to buying stock in order to drum up business.
  • instead Into Print creates a package of materials for booksellers to help them convince readers to buy your book, and only after a reader has bought your book, does Into Print print it, on demand.
  • worldwide exposure and availability.
  • booksellers everywhere get data about your book.
  • no need to ship long distances.
  • instead Into Print prints and ships from the nearest factory e.g. Australia for Australia, New Zealand and Australasia, USA for North America, UK for UK and some parts of Europe. Partner factories in Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland, Russia, South Korea, India and China, make delivery even more local.

Print on demand also facilitates other author activities:

  • organise a launch event and ask Into Print to ship a box of books into the event venue on the day before.
  • take delivery of a small quantity and send out to reviewers with a signed copy and personal letter.
  • sell some books to a specialist bookseller and invoice on your agreed terms; Into Print ships the copies directly into the bookseller. 
  • low cost fulfilment of legal deposit copies.