Why do you want to publish this book? This is a very basic question you must answer satisfactorily for yourself before proceeding further. Deal with the "why" before you move on to the "how". Focussing your project early will save you endless hours of meandering progress later.
Single author: If this is an individual effort by a single author – you – the answer may be self-evident. You've been squirreling away material on your family for years and now it's time to get it into print. Nobody else has done it, you have all the information, and you're nearing that appointment with St. Peter. But reflecting on why you are entering the world of publishing may help you focus on the intent of your project, as you will see below.Committee: If you are a member of a heritage or historical group, or a specific committee formed to create a book, you should really re-examine the question: why are we publishing this book? If you can not
answer it succinctly, do some more thinking. Why is this book important to you
and your community of interest? Who is your target audience? Who
will be interested in your book, and why?
Focussing on the "why" of doing a book often helps you sort out the wheat from the chaff in your information hopper. When you have a hard and firm vision of what your book is about, and why you are doing, it will be much easier to reject information as irrelevant to the project. Otherwise, you may collect reams of material which you are unlikely to use but will save anyway "just in case".
Has this kind of book been done in your community before? Sometimes the answer is yes but it's time for an update. Suppose your town had published a book in 1967, Canada's centennial year. Lots of towns did. Almost 50 years have passed since then. Changes will have happened, in the meantime, the book is old hat and old-fashioned to two generations of younger people, and new printing techniques and styles will give your town's history a brand-new look.
Or maybe it's time for a new style. If the former history book is primarily text, consider a photo book. Organizing and publishing a photo book using today's electronic equipment is fun and easy – for those who like doing it!
There are many options to pursue. But first, focus on the "why" and you'll soon come up with ways to meet the "how".
Photo: Teacher's corner, at the Neilson Store Museum, Amherst Island. Orland French photo