Publishing a Book – A Look at “Blurb”

I became involved with Blurb.Com a few years ago because they work with Blogs. There are numerous printers out there to create your photo book or textbook or whatever your needs, but Blurb can “slurp” your blog right in to their book (meaning they take your year of babbles on your blog and convert it directly to book format). This was ideal for me and my personal blog because while I’d had the hope in the first year of my son’s life to manually scrapbook all my blogs, complete with photos and intricate scrapbooking decals… seriously, who has the time for that. Blurb saved me. A few hours of tweaks here and there, adding a few extra pictures, I was able to take my mommy-blog from Blog-format, to printed… and $40 later, I had something hardbound for my shelf.

Update to this year, and a genealogical need.. It’s Time to print something out for the family. And in my case most personally because we do a gift-exchange, and I was given my father, the man with everything. This year I’m going beyond just the report of his ancestry, I created a Book. Oh thank you Blurb.

Let me break down what I learned, where I’m coming from, and some notes here & there.

1 – the Blurb application is FREE. It will take some time to download, but not too much space on your computer. (you pay for the printing/shipping, but the application is free)

2 – Decide on your audience – It will help you decide what documents/reports you might need.
I’m printing an Entertainment Book. I am not printing a detailed history of the family, neither ancestral nor descendant report. I knew from the get-go the “reports” I could export from my genealogy software would be of little use to this. I wanted all the bazillion photos I have stored (many my family has not seen) and a brief listing of families, lines, and history. I knew going in to this that if I wanted a brief ancestral report, I would have to write it out.

* Just to note that if you’re going with something different, Blurb can import any and all files. So if you want to print out that 28page of Descendant Listing from your genealogy software, it can import it. then, you can tweak it and reformat as needed.

3 – Organize Your “stuff”
I started last night, importing photos to my new “book” and quickly realized none of my photos were in order, and I had scans from this last summer that I’d never renamed nor put in their correct spot. And I’m insanely organized on my computer, yet I still needed to stop my project for a good hour and re-organize.

I tend to organize my files something like this….
Loops – Jr – Charles – Melba and Charles at Fontana 1940

Everything is labeled first with surname, then because I have III, Jr, and Sr., I need that first. Then what personal name. Then description of the photo.  (this way you can find all the Charles Jr photos in one lump)

4 – Format, Crop and Fix your photos
Regardless of what program you use, Always keep an Originals folder, as well as a “cropped” folder. In my case I have scanned images of 8.5×11 that are beautiful but 40% of the photo is the edge. I crop those edges off for the purposes of something like this book. Do Not Ever alter the original! Import your scans/photos to an Originals folder; copy all the images to a secondary folder and then crop and modify your pictures from there.

5 – Get to building your book. I write books and manuals all the time and I tend to just import everything I can find (because you can move and alter later) – your process is up to you. If you need to start with page 1 and move forward as you go, that’s fine. But with Blurb you can insert/delete pages as needed, so if you just want to start importing photos to pages… you can fix later.

blurb-show

as you get going, you should see something like this… a running list of all your pages down below, and the selected page in the big View window at the top.

6 – At any point you can change the format of your page, whether it’s a Text page or Photo Page (note that Text pages also have images, just LESS images than a Photo-page)

7 – Preview your book.

8 – Order your book

And You.Are.Done.
I mean it. Whatever time it takes for you to create your book (mine took me about 10hrs between last night and tonight, and yes it’s almost 2am my time also blogging about the results), you can be done so quickly. It depends on what materials you already have, such as photos and reports; and depends on the tweaks you want to make.

Ancestry of Charles Loops

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Genealogy books can be difficult – but you first have to consider your audience. In my family I am the keeper of it all. When my gUncle died a few years ago, his children just packed it all up and sent it to me. They’re interested, of course, but they don’t care about the details. I have learned in my 20yrs of research that my family does not want a report. But they would like to look at a photo album for 20 minutes. And if I can give all the photos and also answer “but where did HE come from” in the same sentence, without it looking like a report… BONUS!

But there in lies #9 – Disclaim whatever you have to offer about your research. Because you are printing a book that will likely be skimmed for a few minutes, and then put on a shelf… give as much information as you can. For this process tonight, I gave my website; I stated where my information came from and where they can find more information; and of course the disclaimer that “All genealogy research is a work in progress; any and all persons listed here are only listed because they are sourced and proven, that I will not list any persons without proper documentation”, blah blah.

If someone picks this up from a shelf in 20yrs, you need to have given what you can; and more information for WHERE the information came from, so they hunt from then on. Do not leave people hanging even if it is immediate family.

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2hrs of clean-up between my computer/scans/various drives I maintain
6hrs of book compilation
1hr contemplating more wine, tears at happiness, emails to people trying NOT to tell them what I’d created

Free installation of Blurb product
10 minutes of upload of my 42 page book
30 seconds to enter my credit card
$53 to have the single product shipped to me, at an increased rate to arrive before Xmas. (they have great deals if you’re printing multiple copies, which I will do once I see what the final product looks like).

Blurb Rocks for me.
I’m sure there are other comparable products out there. But this just made it So Easy on me. Insert photo; insert text. Build a page. Go from there.

And hey, if you are of my Loops family, Contact me because you can buy this! Blurb offers the printed version or just a PDF download, but trust me, you want the printed version for your shelf. Let me make a few tweaks off this initial draft and I’ll be printing a number of copies for everyone in the family.

originally posted 12/13 on GenealogyLoops.com

Census gone wild

I have been remiss in blogging. I’m going nuts with updating my database. Finding children, sourcing. I have to finally admit that I’m enjoying the ease of the collaboration between Rootsweb and Ancestry. It annoys me. I don’t want to PAY for genealogical information. But it’s SO easy….. that Rootsweb is the home for my database, it’s just There. I don’t know what else to say.

I’m finding sources the like I’ve never had before, aside from my years of Living in NC and actually going to the Lenoir Co. courthouse. Ancestry IS a bonafide resource (bummer!!!).

I still consider it a racket, to have to PAY. I am increasingly frustrated that the GenWeb is losing momentum. Why is that? Why are there not more volunteers keeping the county websites going? Back in the day, 10yrs ago, you could find a lookup for country records. Today, you’re lucky to find someone even maintaining the website, much less look-ups or reliable links.

So, that’s why I’m hiding from blogging. Update, clean, solidify. That’s where I am these days.

I’m hoping to teach another class soon and really get back into this. I also want to join the local Gen society and start researching (albeit for their GenWeb) and transcribing for them. Because I still believe in the GenWeb. Ancestry is awesome… but the more we can promote the FREE, the volunteer… the more we are working together as a collaborative group.

Genealogy Class #2

Tonight was the second genealogy class, finishing up where we started on Monday. Yay! The totality of this class was by-far the best class I’ve taught so far, and for a year of classes, 1-2 a week, that says something! Hooray!

The second class seems like it would be easier, but never quite so much. Especially because, in theory, you leave a good portion of the first of the class to questions about the previous class, a recap on what we covered, and what experiences/challenges came up when the ‘students’ went home to play on their own.
In my class, no one apparently went home and played. So…. the Q & A portion of the class was about 3 minutes, instead of my allotted 30min. Hmph.

So, in following the ideas that we covered on Monday – the bigger databases, Ancestry, LDS, and Rootsweb, I thought we’d first need to backup and start with some simple searches on Google, and move from there. The class ended up looking like this:

– Google. How to search on Google. Use Quotations! The fun of Google Books, and just basically outlining what information you’d find in a basic Google search (like people’s personal websites, archived information… what “archived” means)

– Forums. Both Rootsweb and GenForums. These have been invaluable to me, and hopefully a great place to start for people who don’t have a lot of information yet. Seems like with the examples I showed tonight (from my own family and family searches from the class), there isn’t a lot of activity on the GenForums any longer. Is there somewhere better? Rootsweb still seems to have a lot of action.

– The GenWeb. I’d always found TWO helpful aspects to the Genweb – county “lookups” and the search engine for the archives. While the archive search is still AMAZING and something EVERYONE needs to have bookmarked, all the counties we looked at (four), none had volunteer “lookups” any longer. Is the GenWeb losing some oomph in that way?

– Gravesites. We covered Find a Grave and Interment. Find a Grave seems to have greatly expanded, now offering (not consistent, mind you, but still) obituaries and family group links. WOW! Someone is really on it with this site. Interment is helpful, but Find A Grave definitely stole the show.

– A quick look back at PAF software and how to create a gedcom file, exporting.

And that was a wrap. Whew! I think I overwhelmed them. I would’ve been overwhelmed if I was just starting out. It was a lot of websites. And we finished 1/2hr early. But… I got great feedback from the class – that they really enjoyed it, learned a lot.

So… YAY! I want to teach more! I want to start a, once a week, Genealogy Group!! I want to be a GenWeb volunteer again (I was for years when I was NC, going to the library and printing off old newspapers from the 1800s and then transcribing and uploading). I want to join more groups. Lawd. I’d never work. And I’d never make any money to afford me time to do all that I want to do.

The class said was that they could tell I was passionate about genealogy research. It definitely came across. I hope that’s a good thing 🙂

Notes vs. "Actual Text"

I’m curious… I pose this as a question..

What do YOU do with your database, on Notes vs. Actual Text?

Right now, I’m running through Census files. Previously, I’d put the information in the Notes section (this is when I was young and a newbie). I’m now putting everything in the “Actual Text” of the source.
THEN I create a timeline, 1870:, 1880:, in the notes section, including year, where, and occupation only.

This seems like a Great collaboration of notes & actual text – and perhaps what the two parts are originally designed for.

BUT, what about other things.. like articles. Do you put the full article in the “Actual Text” of the source? Or do you put it in the notes?

It seems a better idea to Source it, and put the source & INFO in the Notes section, because then it prints. Whether you’re uploading your database to share or creating individual webpages, the notes will show, but the sources are separate. So… notes are more visible.

Just curious. What do you do? How do you sort it out?

Cleaning of the Database (pt2) – Rootsweb and Ancestry

I have a new love – Rootsweb (my database) and my PAF software, two windows on my screen. Oh, a whole new world for cleaning the database.

I am not a big fan of Family Tree Maker. I have it, of course. And it’s connection to my Ancestry.com membership is handy. Sometimes. Still, I really prefer my Personal Ancestral File from LDS. It’s FREE. It’s Easy. And it works just the same as Ancestry Family Tree, which I’m still depressed that they discontinued. Btw, is that for real? Does anyone know if it’s Really, Truly gone? Cause I can’t find it on the web any longer.

Enyhoo… Ancestry has it’s place. It does. While I’d rather not pay for genealogical information, it’s not a soap-box I’m willing to rant about tonight.

So… My new favorite thing….
I upload my database to Rootsweb. Instead of having 10,000 pages on my personal website, it just makes more sense to have a link to a free family tree… Rootsweb is by far my favorite.

Rootsweb is also tied in with Ancestry, so each individual listing – if Ancestry can find it – gives you search results to Ancestry throughout the Rootsweb database.

This is the best help for cleaning up the database!
I open one window with MY database on Rootsweb. Which has the links to Ancestry.
And then another window of my PAF database.

I can look right at my notes and sources on my rootsweb pages, find oddities, old information, and of course, Ancestry links… and update in my PAF at the same time. It’s So much easier than having to click on the Sources and Notes for each individual person – not sure what I’m going to find – cause Rootsweb has it all listed right there.

Of course this means that I’ve been uploading new databases to Rootsweb every day this week.
But… I don’t have a job. And the baby is still taking two naps a day. I have time 🙂

If you have an ancestry membership and upload to Rootsweb, this is, so far, the easiest way that I’ve found to start with cleaning the database. It’s at least showing me the weak links, and immediate connections to cleaning up Notes and Sources. Ooh… I’ve got a long list to build on. But you’ve gotta start somewhere.