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Book Project -- Historical (1 Viewer)


Senior Member
I've begun research on a new book project. I would be interested in talking with someone who has had a nonfiction book published before. Who was your publisher? Did you submit a book proposal? Did you use an agent? What has been your experience with that publisher and do you recommend them?

I would also be interested in hearing from someone who has self-published using any of the turn-key agencies out there. Was it a positive experience? Do you recommend them? How did you handle distribution? What was your average cost.

I'm in the research phase now and will probably be for the next several months to one year. I look forward to hearing from you.


Senior Member
Picked up some new material on the research trail today.

I picked up another two books for my research today. I was glad to find them. I'll be getting five more next week and I can't wait to get reading. Already the layout of the book is taking shape, and I keep coming across more interesting material to include.

I'm also curious, for anyone who has published nonfiction work about actual people, how did you deal with permissions to use real names, or did you simply change the names?
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Senior Member
if you're writing about real people, simply changing names probably won't cover you legally... if any of them [or anyone else] can identify them from the descriptions/events you write about, you'll still be at risk of being sued...

you need to consult a literary attorney before submitting this work to any publisher [paying or vanity]...


Senior Member
Thank you mammamaia.

Thanks for the advice. It's duly noted on my things-to-do list. I am hoping that since I'm dealing with an historical piece, most of the information of which will be coming from public records, that I won't run into too many complications. I thought that I'd talk to a couple of other people who have done historical works and see how they handled it. I'm starting in about the late 1830s through to the present.

I appreciate your taking the time to respond. Happy holidays.


Senior Member
make sure those writers you ask are ones who've had their books published by traditional [= paying] presses... and then still consult an attorney, if you want to be sure your legal nether parts are covered well enough...

hugs, m


You're doing the right thing


I'm glad to see that you are spending some time and energy researching your options and questioning legalities even before writing the book.

I have self-published 4 books related to local history. One is a substantial, comprehensive, 360-page book featuring the early history of this valley and profiling many early pioneers. I recommend self-publishing for a local or regional history because you are probably the best one to promote and distribute it. There's no benefit to landing a royalty publisher for a regional history because you probably won't need him to get your book placed in bookstores. You can get it in local bookstores yourself and major bookstores probably won't be interested. Of course, you'll be doing most of the promotion, anyway that you go.

I can recommend three excellent books to help you understand the fee-based POD publishing houses, their services, what you can expect, what to watch out for, etc. One book even rates the PODs--best/worst and why.

One book is my own "The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book." I devote 60 pages to understanding the publishing industry and I include an entire chapter on working with PODs. www.matilijapress.com/rightway.html. Or Amazon.com. Dehanna Bailee did an excellent job of comparing PODs in her "The ABC's of POD." Amazon.com. And I just reviewed another book for the SPAWN newsletter January edition (free at www.spawn.org). It's Mark Levine's, "The Fine Print of Self-publishing."

If you have any questions about self-publishing (steps also outlined in "The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book") or writing history, just let me know: [email protected].

Good luck,
Patricia Fry, President
SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network)
www.matilijapress.com (my Web site)
www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog (my blog)


Senior Member
Thank you Patricia. I will bookmark those links so I can check them out. A couple of the others I had a few years ago started out well, but then seemed to get more and more complicated.

I am hoping that some of the material in this will also peak a royalty publisher as well, as it deals with some notable trials that took place here. I think they would make good material for a movie, but I'm not versed in script writing. I've toyed with it, but never really got the hang of it.

Book project update:

While working on the research for this book I'm also compiling my family's genealogical history, as it's never been done with any real long-term commitment on anyone's part. So far, in the last 48 hours, I've visited two cemeteries, and in the last month entered more than 200 names of ancestors. I've learned more about my extended family tree in the last month than I've been aware of over the last three decades. It's rather fascinating. Found out that my great grandfather on my mother's side was a witness in one of the trials I mentioned above. One of the last two people to have seen the killer before he murdered the family. It's going to add an eerie and compelling factor to the research, I think.

Happy new year everyone! May your writing projects be prosperous and enlightening in 2007 and the years beyond.


Senior Member
My eyes! Anyone have a cold cloth?

I haven't really suffered with eye strain since I was in junior high. But, alas, with all the other books I'm reading for this book project, the articles, the obituary notices, the . . . well, you get the idea. All that coupled with the hundreds of pages of transcripts a week, and some reports and correspondence I have to read, my eyes are starting to tell me they're tired and they want rest. [Sigh] I went and bought my unofficial pair of professorial bookish reading glasses the other night. They're a tremendous help, and if I may say so look quite stylish, but I think my eyes just need a few days of R & R, refocusing and retinal rejuvenation.

Anyway, the research is going well. I'm looking forward to picking up a couple more books I wish to browse, and then spending a week or so at the research library combing through old newspapers from the late 1800s. Can't wait. The highlight will be, I think, a trip to K.C. to the stacks there. I'm looking forward to it and hope to get to spend a couple of hours browsing Nelson-Atkins. I haven't been museum hopping in quite some time.

I look forward too, of sharing some segments from the book in this thread and getting some comments on it.

Well, hope your writing projects are progressing.
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