Getting started

How to Create a Book – Getting Started

Things to do before setting pen to paper, or finger to keyboard

 Think. Why do you want to create this book? This is the ultimate question. If you can not answer it succinctly, do some more thinking. Why is this book important to you, and your community of interest? Determine who the target audience shall be. Who will be interested in your book, and why? If this is a "heritage” book, not a market-driven book, that is, a book where information should be recorded for posterity, do some hard thinking on what should be included.

 Test your market. Don’t be afraid to test your idea on your friends, acquaintances, professionals, booksellers, teachers, academics. Their endorsation may help boost your ego immensely. But listen to what they are saying. "That’s a good idea!” isn’t enough. A Napanee Post Officebookseller may have some ideas on packaging, a professional may suggest things to include to make the book more comprehensive. The more people you talk to, the more ideas you will pick up. You don’t have to accept them all, but it helps to listen.

 Narrow the focus. Don’t try to put everything in the book. You may have sufficient information for more than one book. Don’t weaken your primary subject by stuffing extraneous material into it.

 Create a working title. This will help narrow the focus and guide you in the selection of material.

Determine your sources and resources.

• Photos, written material, text on hand

• Reference sources, including archives and libraries

• Interview subjects

 Set an approximate publication date. Work backwards from this date to set up a timeline for publication. Give yourself plenty of time. Books always take longer to create than you expect.

 Create your committee to assign duties, to avoid repetition and duplication. If the committee consists only of one person (you), start making a list of priorities of action items.

 Organize your material. Perhaps it already is, but as the result of your hard thinking about focus, direction and content, you may want to be more selective and re-organize the material you have on hand.

 Get supporting material. If you intend to use a lot of pictures, make sure you have supporting material to go with the pictures. A photo book on architecture might be 80 per cent photos, 20 per cent text, but it would be important to have supporting text.

 Set a size. Early on, determine approximately how many pages this book will be, the probable size (dimensions), and the likely Glanmore National Historic Sitenumber of sales (press run). Get some printing quotes based on these guesstimates. This is important for the next two steps.

 Set a budget. This serves two purposes: it determines how big your book is likely to be, and therefore sets some parameters on what you are going to include. It also gets you thinking about how much money you need to raise to complete the project. More HERE

 Finding financial resources. Figure out how you are going to pay for this project. Even if enough books are sold to cover your costs and earn money, you will need to pay the printer up front. All your costs go out before you start receiving any income. There are a number of sources for a worthy cause. Getting a bank loan is the last one to consider.

 Seek a grant. If you intend to seek a grant for this project, you will need printer’s quotes to support your application. Get the application out early because foundation responses take a great deal of time. Some of them consider applications only once or twice a year. If there is a local foundation, go there first.

 Pre-design the book. It is easier to create a book if you have a sense of the book’s appearance in mind. It might help to spend a few hours with a designer to get a sense of what a book could look like. Or you might even find a book that strikes you as having an appropriate design. "I want a book like this!” Then, as you choose material, you can picture how it might appear in the book. You can always change the design if you wish.


Photos this page: Right, former Napanee post office; left, Glanmore National Historic Site, Belleville. Orland French photos