So...You Want To Write A Book


First, allow me to state that I am in no way professionally qualified on the subject of writing a book. However, the tips in this weeks entry are just some basic common sense guidelines and ones I am using myself in the writing of my own book.

You have researched for years......

You just have tons of data and interesting anecdotes....

Short of buying another casket and having it buried with you; what are you going to do with it all?

Consider compiling it all in some chronological and well formatted manner such as a volume for future researchers of the line, or perhaps just for your family.

It is, I grant you, a massive undertaking to say the very least. I mean, really, you have all this hard could it be? No where near as easy as it sounds. Based on my own experience, I sometimes think that the decisions as to what to include and how is sometimes just as difficult as the actual informational content.

Your own volume, of course, can be as simple or elaborate as you care to make it. This decision will most likely be made based on just whom is going to be reading it. Is it just for your children and grandchildren? or is it for future researchers and for mass publication?

Whichever you decide, the basic sectional content should remain the same. The following items should be included in any book you compose.

1. Title Page; 2. Table of Contents; 3. Some form of Introduction; 4. Page describing any particular Abbreviations you might use throughout; 5. Disclaimer Page-; 6. Bibliography- source page; 7. Photographs/Documents; An index is optional.

Title Page

This is perhaps one of the last items that you can decide on. You might wish to complete your volume and then make the decision as to what best applies.

Table of Contents

This should list chapter/family names and page numbers. Although it may sound like a simple matter to just type this one right off, you should give some thought to presentation and what you are actually including in your volume. To make this decision, you need to figure out;

Are you just covering the major surnames in your lineage? or are you also covering the peripheral lineages? Again, are you covering only the main peripherals or all of them? Should these peripherals be listed in the table of contents under the families that they connect to or elsewhere?

A choice I made that you might consider; is to list at the beginning of a surname chapter the various peripheral lineages connected to that name-- bold facing only the ones that have their own chapter in other areas of the book.

However you choose to do this page, it should be the absolute last page that you complete. Trust me, changes will be made and thus change all the page numbers in the list.


Not a necessity, but a nice touch. This page should give something of yourself showing perhaps just why you have decided to write this volume. Briefly crediting perhaps someone who helped you a great deal. Also use this page to briefly describe your formatting style; everyone has different ways of numbering or breaking down the various families, so some guidance for the reader may be needed.


This is just a simple page listing any abbreviations that you might be in the habit of using throughout the book. Most of them are probably self explanatory, or seem that way to you..but some readers may not be familiar with researching, and you might have some unique ones that you use. This also allows you the ease of using the abbreviations throughout instead of writing these words everytime.


A simple page, containing a simple paragraph. Something to just state that the items found in your book are not meant to be the definitive in this family lineage. A small comment stating that this is still a work in progress along with a statement that you realize that errors could exist.


This section can run quite lengthy depending on just how you choose to lay it out. You want to use this section to list all of your sources, whether they be a library, archive, newspaper, family bible, etc. When listing books, be certain to list the title and the author. Also, list any other researcher with whom you have corresponded and later used the information you gain from them. One simple and concise way that I use in doing this is if I find that there are certain persons that I have consulted over the years more then others, instead of itemizing just every little thing, I just simply making a listing in the bibliography such as; From the John Smith Genealogy Collection.


It is a personal choice how you do this. You can choose to include these items along with and in the chapter covering that surname- or choose to have a section in the back just containing photographs and documents that you have of course identified. In using the second option, you would probably wish to list a page number in the text of the surname chapter as a reference point.


As stated, this is an optional choice.

Countries of Origin Page

This again is an optional choice. I like the idea of using it to inform the readers; especially if they are going to be my children/grandchildren. This page can be made very simple just by listing each family surname you are including giving the name of the country of origin, if known. I also like to include the earliest documented year. To me I feel I am giving them a better sense of who they are and where they come from along with a range of years to begin their own research later.

Next time, I will include some tips on the formatting of the individual family chapters.