5 Great Ways to Turn Your Blog Posts into a Book

“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard, and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy and that hard.” — Neil Gaiman

Writing a book is a dream for many folks. Some try very hard to write a book from scratch but never get very far. Others take baby steps. Little by little, they manage to put something meaningful together. Nevertheless, they fall short of writing that elusive full-length tome.

Some writers have success by beginning their writing journey with a blog. Often, starting a new blog feels more like a hobby than a formal writing project. Over time, this “hobby” gains enough traction to earn the writer a regular following.

If they have been successfully blogging for awhile, they will have accumulated a significant amount of content. It could make sense for a recognized blogger to transform their blog posts into a full-length book.

This article will explore how blog posts can be compiled into a book. It will cover five ways it can be done, including how hiring a ghostwriter can help with such a major writing project.

Getting Started: Outlining a Non-fiction Book

Outlining is the first major step in getting started producing a full-length book. Starting with a fully developed outline can help with the writing process and organization of the book.

There are two major reasons why an outline is important.

First, an outline serves as a roadmap for the book’s content.

Many writers get stuck without the guidance of a clear outline. In some instances, they may write copious amounts of material. However, they are unable to translate the material into a seamless narrative.

Books without a consistent narrative are likely to fall short of readers’ expections.

Second, a solid outline allows writers to pick and choose which blog posts fit their vision for the book.

The outline provides criteria that can measure whether a blog post should be included in the final book. Without these criteria, mashing blog posts together can result in a disjointed final product that fails to convey the intended message.

When outlining a book, it is crucial to determine the book’s message.The blog posts must fit the message and not the other way around. A common mistake is to attempt to force a narrative around a collection of blog posts. Blog posts often touch on different subjects and have different approaches to them. Using a central message around which to select posts is more effective than trying to develop criteria from various posts.

The following steps will facilitate the overall process:

  1. Create an outline or table of content that reflects the book’s content.
  2. Search for the blog posts that fit the criteria presented in the outline.
  3. Compile the blog posts to create a working manuscript.
  4. Edit existing posts while adding new material to ensure a smooth narrative.

Please bear in mind that this process is not about merely shoving posts together into a volume. It is about weaving them together much like a quilt. A great outline can also become a highly useful tool when a ghostwriter comes into the picture.

Number One: “Blogging” a Full-Length Book

A common complaint among writers is that they do not have enough time to sit down and write a book. However, most bloggers already commit a specific amount of time to their blog. They have time to write, but don’t feel they have time to compile an entire book.

Consistent bloggers can leverage their writing habits into a full-length volume. The secret is to break up the entire book into blog-sized chunks.

By dividing the workload this way, producing the overall content is less demanding on the writer’s time.

Additionally, divvying up the material softens the psychological impact that writing a book can present. Focusing on 500-to-1,000-word blog posts at a time builds momentum, which can push the project forward.

A full-length book usually falls in the 30,000 to 50,000-word range. By “blogging” a book piece-by-piece, reaching this significant word count is accomplished in a steady and systematic way.

Use the following steps to “blog” a full-length book:

  1. Build an outline that reflects the book’s overarching message and theme.
  2. Divide the material into blog-sized posts (500 to 1,000 words).
  3. Publish “chapters” on your blog following a specific schedule.
  4. Keep roughly 25% of the chapters exclusively for the finished book.
  5. Compile the set of blog posts into a working manuscript.
  6. Review the material to ensure a consistent narrative.

A good rule of thumb is to avoid publishing everything on the blog. After all, why would readers be interested in the book if everything is on the blog? Moreover, the book will not sell if the content is freely available on the blog.  Creating a certain amount of material exclusively for the book will keep it useful and interesting.

Number Two: “Blogging” Short Books

Some writers prefer to break up a single, full-length book into a series of smaller books. This approach allows writers to publish more books at frequent intervals. More frequent publishing also cuts down on readers’ waiting time.

Like a full-length book, blogging short books begins with publishing blog posts. Each blog post pertains to the overall topic related to each of the volumes in the series. Short books can emerge from a a handful of posts or even one lengthy piece.

Typically, short books range from 5,000 to about 20,000 words. These types of books are common on Kindle or in e-book format.

Short books intend to provide the reader with detailed information on one or two defined topics. For instance, a writer may chose to produce a series on best management practices instead of a single, comprehensive volume.

When blogging short books, writers can use individual blog posts as teasers for the books’ content. As such, published posts can become the introduction to the book. With this approach, writers do not give anything away. Instead, they can create a buzz in readers, enticing them to read the entire book.

Here are some steps to consider:

  1. Create an outline that encompasses the series’ narrative.
  2. Break up the narrative into a reasonable number of volumes. Generally, three to five volumes work well.
  3. Write one major blog post that introduces the volume’s central message without giving away its essence.
  4. The blog post should avoid becoming too “salesy” but should strive to pitch the book.

Regular bloggers often exploit this approach to generate traffic for their content or drive sales. It can even lead to a steady income stream.

Number Three: Blogging Short Series

Another popular approach among bloggers is to produce a short series. These series usually have a specific theme to them. For example, a blogger may choose to chronicle a trip or detail a project. Creative bloggers often use this format to unfold a story over several “chapters.”

A short series offers a great deal of flexibility as they can generate expectations for every new installment.

How-to guides commonly follow this approach. Each installment in the series builds on the previous one. By the end of the series, readers have a completed project. In contrast, if they miss a chapter, they will not be able to fully reach the outcome.

A short series can also lead to a full-length book. Each installment could serve as a chapter that builds anticipation.

Additionally, short series help readers construct the overarching theme piece-by-piece. This approach allows readers to get valuable information in digestible chunks. As a result, it avoids placing too much information on readers in one volume.

When using the short series approach, writers should consider purposely leaving important details out. These details would only be available in the full book. In doing so, readers would need to purchase the full book to get the remaining pieces of the overall puzzle.

Non-fiction writers can benefit from this format. For instance, blog posts can introduce the main aspects of a case study. Each installment could present individual stories that build on the overarching message contained in the book. However, the blog would not include the book’s value proposition.

Consider this example:

A book on management practices presents a series of case studies on successful companies. Each blog post tells the story of a company turning their management practices around. However, the blog posts do not reveal how each company achieved its results. Readers would need to read through the book to find the specific measures that led to the successful outcomes.

Another benefit from blogging a short series is the possibility of a book series. Often, short stories have the potential to expand into larger books or expanded narratives. Both fiction and non-fiction writers could consider using short stories as a springboard into a book series.

Number Four: Publish an Anthology

An anthology is a collection of writings. Often, publishers bundle poems or short stories into anthology volumes. These collections may or may not have a specific theme to them. Their intention is to provide the reader with a compilation of a writer’s work. Also, an anthology may feature various authors’ work on a specific topic.

For some bloggers, an anthology may be a viable alternative to producing a full-length or short book.

Writers can benefit from producing an anthology as they do not need to “fit” every element perfectly. They can compile various ideas into a bundle that is consistent with an overarching theme. Nonetheless, each element should help build the narrative effectively.

Anthologies also offer more freedom to explore topics. This freedom allows writers to include material that does not necessarily fit in perfectly with the other blog posts in the series.

As a result, writers can allow themselves to the freedom to divert from the topic at hand. Of course, it is crucial to maintain focus on the overarching theme.

Please consider the following steps when building an anthology:

  1. Anthologies need a common thread that unites every piece. For example, a book could contain several pieces on a specific topic, such as social justice.
  2. Individual blog posts do not necessarily need to follow a seamless narrative. However, they must have a clear relationship with one another. Disjointed or unrelated blog posts can leave readers confused and the writer’s main message may not be clearly expressed.
  3. An anthology must have an introduction that helps weave each post into a common theme. The introduction should make it clear  what the reader can expect to find throughout the book.
  4. A conclusion is another important component of a great anthology. The conclusion helps bring the book full circle in a way that leaves readers with something to look forward to. A conclusion can also serve to “hook” readers into anticipating the next short or full-length book.

Bear in mind that anthologies should also contain unpublished material. These “bonuses” help drive interest in the anthology. Otherwise, readers need only go to the blog to get the material. Fans of a blog may be interested in an anthology because the collection gives readers deeper insight into the blogger as an individual.

Number Five: Hiring a Ghostwriter

Unfortunately, there are times when writing projects stall.

When this occurs, it is often a good idea to bring a fresh mind into the fold. Hiring a ghostwriter can be one solution.

A professional ghostwriter can take a series of blog posts and mold them into an anthology, a series, or a full-length book. A ghostwriter can take the overarching narrative and fill in the gaps needed to complete the project.

There are two main benefits of hiring a ghostwriter:

First, professional ghostwriters can take existing blog posts and tweak them to fit the book’s criteria. This approach does not require any material to be rewritten. A ghostwriter can produce new material and link existing blog posts together to build a seamless narrative. With their help, a ghostwriter can greatly reduce the time needed to get the book out to the public.

Second, hiring a ghostwriter allows bloggers to start new blogs or writing projects.  Ghostwriters can also take ideas from the blogger and help create new blog posts or even short stories.

This approach is not about hiring a ghostwriter to write a book. Instead, the ghostwriter’s job is to compile existing content and bring the book writing project to fruition.

Ultimately, getting a ghostwriter on board might be the final piece of the puzzle. A professional ghostwriter is always a worthwhile alternative when other approaches cannot seem to bear fruit.

Bringing It All Together

Going from a blog to a full book is a great way to take a seemingly daunting task and attain a long-held dream. Writers who feel they do not have the time to produce a full-length book should think again. After all, producing consistent blog posts will eventually lead to a significant amount of written material.

Building a book from blog posts hinges on choosing a narrative that can bind the various elements together. Consequently, writers must craft a narrative that unites several posts.

Carefully choosing the posts that fit the narrative, and leaving out those that do not, will result in a strategically crafted book.

Lastly, hiring a professional ghostwriter might be the answer to reviving a dormant writing project. Whether it is taking existing blog posts or building new ones, a ghostwriter can help take a writing project from an idea into reality

Give the Gift of Connection This Holiday Season

Once again, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned life as we know it on its head, including the holidays.

With rises in Covid cases, for the second year in a row, many of us won’t travel or gather as we traditionally do to see friends and loved ones. And as such, we may be on the hunt for ideas that forge a connection, despite separation and miles during what should be a cherished and memorable time of year.

Here are some ideas that might help you stay close at heart to the ones you love and cherish the most.

Holiday Cards

According to an article in the JSTOR Daily, the first commercially produced holiday card was designed in 1843.

It featured an illustration of people toasting the holidays with the message along the bottom that read, “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.”

Soon after, the idea of sending holiday cards near and far caught on as a way to celebrate the season and connect with friends and loved ones. Holiday greeting cards became a convenient, cost-effective way to stay in touch.

Over the years, the concept of sending and receiving holiday cards has become somewhat of a lost art, especially with the advent of e-cards and social media. However, this year might be the perfect time to restart this tradition.

You can purchase cards or make them yourself. Regardless, sending a card is an easy, affordable touchpoint and a way to say “hello” and “happy holidays” to a close friend or relative you may not be able to see this year.

Winne Parks, CEO of PaperSource, a popular cardmaking and stationery company, was recently interviewed for an article in Bloomberg News about the spike her business has experienced in greeting card sales since the pandemic began.

“One of the great silver linings out of this is the time for people to slow down and go back to the basics,” she said in the article.

So, if you’re looking to supplement those video chats with a little something extra, consider sending holiday cards to let others know you’re thinking about them.

Handmade Gifts

Taking the time to handcraft a gift is another way to feel connected as we continue to quarantine and socially distance ourselves from others this season.

Homemade gifts aren’t something novel, but they may hold more meaning than something purchased.

CNBC recently reported that online searches on sites like Etsy and Pinterest suggest that people are looking for gift ideas that are more personalized or for gift ideas they can craft themselves.

If you’ve picked up an old hobby or started a new one during the lockdowns, you could put it to good use, making one-of-a-kind treasures for your friends and loved ones.  

Personal History

What about giving a gift that tells a story? Have you ever thought about giving your mom, dad, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or close friend the gift of their personal history?

It may sound like a daunting task: gathering anecdotes, collecting photos, and capturing quotes. Don’t let this stop you, though. You can enlist a writing service to put together this keepsake your loved one and future generations will cherish for years to come.

They will do all the work for you – interview your loved one, transcribe the notes, and produce a professional, personalized custom book that captures favorite moments, life wisdom, and funny stories.

The end product is sure to make you and your loved one feel more connected.

Impact on Mental Health

Without a doubt, the holidays are going to be strange again this year. We will not be able to partake in many of the holiday traditions we have in years past, and many of us may feel out of sorts.

Engaging in activities like sending holiday cards, making handmade gifts, and giving a loved one a treasured keepsake of a personal biography are all ways you strengthen bonds with family and others you hold dear. 

Digital vs. Print Books: How a Ghostwriter Can Boost Both Digital and Print Publishing

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” — Cicero

Books have always been a powerful means of communicating knowledge. Humankind has used books to preserve and further develop civilization for centuries.

And in the information age, books have become more powerful than ever. However, the changing technological landscape has started to morph books into the electronic domain.

Nowadays, books do not need paper to exist. Books can thrive in a non-material world in which words pop up on a screen. This new domain has done nothing to diminish books’ importance. However, the question now becomes: Are books better suited in their traditional paper format or their new digital embodiment?

In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of print versus digital books. Moreover, we’ll discuss how readers, writers, and publishers can take advantage of both formats to pursue their aims. Lastly, we will examine the role that individual ghostwriters and ghostwriting companies can play within the shifting literary realm.

Are print books still relevant?

Virtually every facet of human existence is progressively migrating to the digital world. In fact, it is hard to find an aspect of modern life that is not somehow part of the digital world.

Books are no exception.

Now, more than ever, it is quite easy to access vast arrays of literary materials in  electronic formats. It seems as though digital publishing is barreling ahead, poised to overtake traditional print publications.

Or so it seems.

In 2019, the Association of American Publishers reported an estimated $26 billion in publisher revenue. While this figure is impressive, the most stunning figure is the disproportion between print and digital book sales.

Print book sales comprised roughly $22.6 billion of the total market revenue.

Surprisingly, digital books accounted for only about $2.04 billion in sales.

This significant gap raises questions about digital books’ true popularity among readers.

Meryl Halls, managing director of the U.K.’s Booksellers Association, offers this insight into print books’ ongoing popularity: “I think the e-book bubble has burst somewhat, sales are flattening off, I think the physical object is very appealing. Publishers are producing incredibly gorgeous books, so the cover designs are often gorgeous, they’re beautiful objects.”

Indeed, print books offer a sensory experience that digital books are yet to deliver. This phenomenon explains why devices such as e-readers have sound effects for turning pages. Moreover, these devices attempt to mimic the reading experience that comes from holding a paper book.

Unfortunately, electronic devices are unable to deliver that same degree of experience.

Halls adds, “The book lover loves to have a record of what they’ve read, and it’s about signaling to the rest of the world. It’s about decorating your home, it’s about collecting, I guess, because people are completists, they want to have that to indicate about themselves.”

Undoubtedly, a tablet or e-reader full of volumes cannot offer the same visual exposure that physical books can. After all, the visual that comes from seeing shelves full of paper books is unbeatable.

Are digital books the wave of the future?

As society transitions into a fully digital world, electronic publications will eventually overtake print ones. This phenomenon has already disrupted the newspaper industry.

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, daily newspaper circulation averaged 63.2 million in 1990. Additionally, Sunday newspaper circulation averaged 62.6 million in 1990.

Fast forward to 2020, that figure had fallen to 24.3 million on weekdays and 25.8 million on Sundays.

Print newspapers’ remarkable decline is partially due to the accessibility that digital media offers consumers. With tablets and smartphones readily available, it would appear that a transition to a fully digital media world is evitable.

Furthermore, generations of digital natives continue to place greater pressure on print publications. Author Franz S. MacLaren sums up e-books’ influence by stating, “Life without a Kindle is like life without a library nearby.”

Indeed, an e-reader such as a Kindle can open the floodgates to an immense world of knowledge.

Therein lies both a blessing and a curse.

On the one hand, digital media allows readers to access vast quantities of materials. A quick stroll through the Amazon Kindle selection can easily blow anyone’s mind. Consequently, there is no shortage of options to choose. There will always be something to read and something new to discover.

On the other hand, the seemingly limitless array of materials can make narrowing focus virtually impossible. Choosing what to read may become extremely complex. And getting lost in an immense ocean of titles may ultimately discourage readers from making a choice.

Undeniably, digital media has entrenched itself in people’s day-to-day lives. Nonetheless, it may seem that the transition from print to digital has not been as rapid as once thought. Therefore, authors and publishers should not neglect the importance that both print and digital have on society. It would appear that authors and publishers are attempting to serve two masters at once.

Should authors and publishers focus on print, digital, or both?

The question “Should authors and publishers focus on print, digital, or both?” encapsulates the core of the print versus digital discussion. There are three main points to consider in this debate.

First, print media will remain a significant force in the years to come. While print newspapers are rapidly becoming obsolete, print books are not. Print books maintain a firm position in the publishing world.

So, why are books in and newspapers out?

Newspapers, like all news media, thrive on speed.

The faster news reaches audiences, the better. As such, print newspapers cannot hope to compete against instant information sharing through social media.

In contrast, print books offer a leisurely or learning experience that transcends speed.

Reading a book is an exercise in discovery. As a result, print books deliver a singular experience that fast-paced media outlets have come to overlook.

Second, digital media, such as e-books, offer instant access to readers.

In the past, publishers needed to wait weeks, or even months, for their publications to reach a nationwide audience.

With online marketplaces such as Amazon Kindle, access to a nationwide and worldwide audience becomes instantaneous. Authors and publishers can begin to see the returns on their investments within minutes.

Third, digital media is boundless insofar as its capacity to store information. In contrast, physical books need to compete for shelf space. Unfortunately, some books do not make the cut.

Sadly, folks discard unwanted books, relegating them to oblivion. While digital media seems to remedy this situation, it is crucial to remember that physical books are trophies. Print books constitute a status symbol that no e-book can match.

Ultimately, authors and publishers cannot neglect one type of media over another. Authors and publishers need to keep one foot in print and one in digital if they aspire to make their investment profitable.

How can hiring a ghostwriter help boost print and digital publishing?

It has become clear that authors and publishers must boost their presence in print and digital landscapes. Neglecting one over the other may lead to a counterproductive strategy. Moreover, publishing formats that discriminate may ultimately alienate readers.

Based on the need to publish materials in both formats, authors and publishers may become overwhelmed. After all, producing content for both print and digital requires different approaches.

Print books provide a recreational experience that demands more extensive materials. Books related to history, travel, art, and science, among other topics, provide readers with a pleasant reading experience.

Conversely, digital materials provide a quick burst of information. Digital materials appeal to the fast-paced lifestyle of most individuals. Therefore, authors and publishers must focus on a differentiated approach.

However, a differentiated approach to publishing across multiple platforms can become a daunting task.

A professional ghostwriter can help authors and publishers share the workload. The adage “the more, the merrier” certainly applies within this context. After all, authors’ time and attention are finite. Thus, employing the assistance of a ghostwriter or ghostwriting agency can make a huge difference.

Hiring a Ghostwriter for Digital Publishing Purposes

Hiring a ghostwriter or ghostwriting agency can help publishers and authors apply a segmented strategy that allows them to cover several bases.

For example, an established author can employ the services of an experienced ghostwriter to produce a series of blog posts.

In essence, the blog posts serve as marketing copy to draw attention to the author’s books. However, the author does not have the additional time it takes to produce a regular blog post.

As a result, hiring a professional ghostwriter enables mainstream authors to extend their reach without sacrificing quality or quantity.

Hiring a Ghostwriter for Print Publishing Purposes

Authors and publishers working predominantly in the digital domain may choose to move into print. This endeavor may require additional time and effort to produce full-length books. However, they may not have the additional time and effort to spare. As such, a professional ghostwriter can help produce content specifically aimed at print publication.

Ghostwriters are a great alternative for authors and publishers looking to pivot into print. Indeed, sharing the workload reduces unnecessary stress while allowing for a differentiated publishing strategy.

How can hiring a ghostwriting agency help boost publishing?

Publishers looking to paint with a broad brush should consider hiring a ghostwriting agency. Reputable ghostwriting agencies employ a team of professional writers specialized in various areas. As a result, authors and publishers looking to spread their wings can take advantage of what a ghostwriting agency can offer.

While hiring an individual ghostwriter is a great alternative, hiring a ghostwriting agency offers greater flexibility than individual ghostwriters.

In particular, publishers can employ ghostwriting agencies to produce large quantities of material within a relatively short timeframe.

The secret lies in employing a team of writers to work on specific projects simultaneously. As a result, publishers seeking to expand their scope can certainly benefit from a ghostwriting agency’s services.

Individual authors can also benefit greatly from hiring a ghostwriting agency. For instance, an author looking to promote their blog can employ a ghostwriting agency to produce a series of articles within a quick turnaround.

In doing so, the author can provide consistent content to their readers while they work on their next full-length book.

Indeed, employing a ghostwriting agency offers a significant amount of flexibility: The agency can help authors and publishers leave their traditional niches and confidently move into new realms.

Moreover, a ghostwriting agency virtually eliminates the need for additional investment in terms of time and effort. Undoubtedly, a ghostwriting agency offers the opportunity to create a diversified publishing strategy without overextending current capabilities.

Conclusion

The shifting landscape in the publishing world has progressively morphed traditional print publications into the digital world. Traditional print publications such as newspapers now predominantly populate the digital world. However, regular print books still hold their ground amid digital media’s expansion.

The dual relationship between print and digital publishing has forced authors and publishers to maintain digital and print markets. However, maintaining such a presence can imply a significant investment in time and effort.

Hiring a professional ghostwriter is a viable alternative for authors and publishers to further their reach in one or both domains. Professional ghostwriters can produce content that allows authors and publishers to strengthen their position in either domain. This strategy enables them to continue focusing their efforts on their core business while expanding their reach.

For authors and publishers looking to truly spread their wings, employing a ghostwriting agency can help them produce significant quantities of content in a relatively short timeframe.

This approach enables authors and publishers to maintain a consistent presence in the digital and print domains without overextending their current efforts. Since ghostwriting agencies employ teams of writers, ghostwriting agencies have the capacity to produce high-quality content quickly.

Ultimately, authors and publishers can continue to focus on their core business while expanding their overall digital and print media presence.

5 Tips for Conducting Remote Interviews for a Family History Book

“A good laugh makes any interview, or any conversation, so much better.” — Barbara Walters

A family history book is very much like an onion. There are many layers to uncover. Each layer comes off one at a time. Often, individual family members and close friends hold the essence of each layer. It would be impossible to put together a faithful rendering of the family’s history without that essence.

An effective technique used to peel back those layers is conducting interviews.

Interviews can help collect first-hand accounts and corroborate information. Moreover, interviews can fill in the gaps left by documentary evidence. After all, papers can only reveal so much, and photographs do not tell the entire story.

With family members spread out across the country, or even the world, remote interviews are a viable alternative for face-to-face communication. But what is the best way to conduct those interviews?

Five Tips for Conducting Remote Interviews for a Family History Book

Tip #1: Have a game plan.

Often, family historians intend to cover as much ground as possible. They seek to get as much information as they can. After all, time is precious, particularly with older relatives.

However, trying to cover too many bases may lead to losing focus. Therefore, it is essential to have a clear game plan before conducting the first interview.

A game plan consists of understanding where the book is heading. For instance, a family history book may center on the family’s journey to America.

As a result, the information needs to home in on that specific episode in the family’s history. Any other information, while useful, may digress from the main story. Ultimately, deviating from the book’s focus may defeat its purpose.

With a clear goal in mind, interviews should aim to shed light on the book’s purpose. Forbes Magazine columnist Shel Israel recommends preparing before an interview. In his view, being prepared saves wasting time. Focusing on the conversation allows the interviewer to focus on the relevant information. This approach begins with careful preparation.

Family historians need to prepare before going into an interview. That preparation begins with understanding who the family member is and what they have to offer. From there, family historians can craft interview questions that will help them peel back one layer, or even multiple layers.

A good rule of thumb is to evaluate what all relatives have to offer. Often, each member has a piece of the puzzle needed to articulate the full picture. Then, conducting interviews just becomes a question of fitting each piece. In the end, the whole puzzle will begin to take shape.

Tip #2: Embrace remote interviews.

Traditional interviews involve a face-to-face sit-down. However, circumstances may not allow an old-fashioned in-person talk. Therefore, family historians must embrace the use of remote interviews.

In the past, remote conversations took place over the phone.

While that approach continues to be valid, technology has afforded family historians new tools.

For instance, video conferencing technology can facilitate a more intimate conversation.

One very important reason video conferencing calls are pivotal is that video calls allow interviewers to create a more comfortable and personal atmosphere.

The following tidbit from a Harvard Business Review publication offers wonderful insight into this topic:

“There’s a great deal of hand-wringing over all that’s lost when screens intermediate our interactions. But there is a certain intimacy that screens can actually facilitate. During a remote interview, the interviewer and interviewee are sitting inches from one another’s faces. The screen creates a sense of psychological safety that may allow people to open up more than they might in person.”

Indeed, a video screen can provide an unparalleled sense of closeness. Moreover, a screen can provide enough proximity to make things more personal, despite the physical distance.

Please bear in mind that the subject matter has a deep connection with each individual. Every life story has a profound significance to everyone connected.

Thus, it makes sense to approach remote interviews with the same warm touch a face-to-face discussion would hold.

The most powerful angle to a remote interview lies in utilizing video to convey facial expressions and physical gestures. A phone call cannot replicate these features. Consequently, using video conferencing to its fullest allows the interviewer to build rapport with the interviewee.

Tip #3: Prepare interview questions in advance.

A successful interview begins with preparing questions in advance. The questions must help the interviewer focus on the information needed to cover the topic at hand. As such, questions should focus on particular points. Painting with a broad brush may lead the conversation astray.

This tip opens the discussion for two specific situations.

The first situation pertains to delivering interview questions before the interview. The rationale behind this approach lies in giving the interviewee advance notice to prepare.

This approach works well, especially with busy people. Additionally, providing interview questions in advance sets the tone for the interviewer’s expectations.

As a result, the interviewee will be aware of what information the interviewer seeks to obtain.

The second situation pertains to allowing freedom throughout the interview. This school of thought allows the interviewee to speak their mind freely. Consequently, the interviewee can take the lead, providing the information they consider relevant to the question and conversation.

When considering both positions, it is best to find a balance between freedom and directing the conversation. The interviewer must be proactive in guiding the conversation to avoid losing precious time on irrelevant or perhaps repetitive items. Ideally, the interviewer should be tactful in bringing the conversation back to its main objective.

Author and photographer Brandon Stanton offers this highly insightful thought: “Interviewing someone is a very proactive process and requires taking a lot of agency into your own hands to get past people’s general self-preservation mode.”

Undoubtedly, some folks may feel defensive when talking about their lives. This “self-preservation mode” might become active, particularly when meeting someone for the first time. Thus, a good interviewer must allow the speaker enough freedom to feel comfortable but become proactive enough to avoid losing focus. Therefore, preparing interview questions in advance can provide the structure needed to avoid losing direction.

Tip #4: Take as many notes as possible.

In-person or remote interviews have the potential to deliver copious amounts of information. However, once the information is out in the open, the interviewer must capture it before it disappears. This phenomenon underscores the need for notes.

When taking notes, it is crucial to let the interviewee know about them beforehand. Otherwise, the interviewee may become defensive and enact their 'self-preservation mode.'

After all, it is one thing to speak one’s mind. Nevertheless, it is a completely different thing to have their words on record.

Initially, interviewers must communicate their intention to take notes. In doing so, the interviewer can provide forewarning so that the interviewer feels comfortable providing their answers.

Consider this situation:

Therapists always manifest their intention to take notes. The rationale is to provide the patient with a comfortable atmosphere. This atmosphere should be conducive to open discussion. Nevertheless, there are instances in which patients may feel self-conscious. As a result, they may request that their therapist refrain from taking notes.

Based on this scenario, what should an interviewer do?

First, interviewers must communicate their plan to take notes. The interviewer must ask the interviewee if they feel comfortable with notetaking. In some cases, it may be necessary to sign legal paperwork, particularly a non-disclosure agreement, due to the information’s sensitivity.

Next, interviewers need to be honest and transparent.

There is nothing wrong with sharing the notes’ contents. In doing so, the interviewee can feel more comfortable about what they are sharing. It may also be necessary to take a break to share notes. Moving forward, the interviewee can relax and continue with the interview.

While note-taking is a great tool, it can be time-consuming and distracting from the conversation. As such, some interviewers prefer recording interviews. Nevertheless, this approach opens up an entirely new set of considerations.

To begin with, recording an interview requires due authorization from stakeholders. As such, interviewers may need legal paperwork to proceed. Specifically, privacy laws apply.

Consequently, consent on the interviewee’s part is essential. Also, all sides must determine who will hold the rights to the recording. Generally speaking, the rights should belong to the book’s author. In the event of co-authors, then rights may be shared.

Additionally, all parties must agree on the recording format. For in-person interviews, audiotape recordings are the norm. Nevertheless, videotaping may also be an option, particularly if there is a video component to the story. The same rules apply to remote interviews.

Please keep in mind that the worst approach is committing information to memory. Much of it can fall through the cracks when there is a great deal of information swirling around. Thus, leaving vital information up to memorization will essentially lead to lost details. Therefore, the best approach, whenever possible, is to record interviews for later review. Alternatively, taking notes is the best way to go.

Tip #5: Hire a ghostwriter.

Family historians may need a helping hand at some point in the process. This is where hiring a ghostwriter comes into play.

Professional ghostwriters come with varying skill sets.

Some ghostwriters are adept at putting pen to paper. Others may have experience in conducting interviews.

Although the question begs, why hire a ghostwriter in the first place?

Ghostwriters are professional writers that can help family historians bring their projects to fruition.

Particularly, family history projects can become quite extensive. Therefore, bringing on a ghostwriter can help facilitate the process.

A ghostwriter can provide support in two main ways.

First, a ghostwriter can help conduct interviews. Involving a ghostwriter in the interview process is important. After all, the ghostwriter might end up writing the bulk, if not all, of the book. Thus, involving a ghostwriter in the interview process makes sense.

In contrast, some family historians prefer to give their ghostwriter only the material they need. That approach is fine, especially when there are privacy concerns.

Second, a ghostwriter may have experience conducting interviews. For example, ghostwriters with a journalism background may have the sort of expertise necessary to conduct interviews. Then, the ghostwriter can get to work on drafting the manuscript.

Please remember that hiring a ghostwriter is an investment in time and effort. Often, family historians may not have the time or the availability to conduct interviews and then sit down to write. As a result, hiring a ghostwriter can save time and effort, leading to a finished family history project.

Conclusion

Completing a family history book requires time devoted to research. Research is crucial to peeling back the layers of the family history onion. Without adequate research, it may be nearly impossible to uncover the full details of a family’s true history and identity.

Conducting interviews is an integral part of the research process. Therefore, careful attention is necessary when going about interviews. Given today’s circumstances, embracing remote interviews may prove the best approach, especially when family members are in various locations around the country and the world.

Nevertheless, the scope of a family history project may require the assistance of a professional ghostwriter.

Beyond writing, a professional ghostwriter can help conduct interviews, as well. An experienced ghostwriter may have the skillset needed to conduct interviews, collect information, and put a manuscript together. Ultimately, a ghostwriter’s help can take a family history project and bring it to fruition.

How can a ghostwriter help get my book to the finish line?

Your book is your passion project. It was going great for a while, but then life got in the way. Work got busier. Kids are kids. Accidents happen. Or sometimes you just hit a wall.

Unfortunately, sometimes passion projects end up on the back burner.

Now, what you really want is for your book to be done, but you’re not sure how to get back on track. It may not seem possible at all. If that’s the case, it’s time to bring in a professional ghostwriter.

While it may seem like handing over your baby to a stranger, try not to think about it like that.

Think of a ghostwriter as a baseball reliever. You started the game and did great, but when you hit your wall, he comes in just to wrap it up with a fresh arm and a slightly different repertoire of pitches. At the end of the game, you still get the win!


What a Ghostwriter Brings to the Table

You’ve done a lot of work on your book, so why bring in someone else?

It’s really as simple as this: Ghostwriters are professional writers.

They’ve 'been there, done that' and they can help you get your project to the finish line, no matter where you’ve stalled.

Here are seven reasons why a ghostwriter gives you a better chance at finishing your project, with a few insights from professional ghostwriter Barbara Adams.

1. They have an established process. 

For many people who are trying to write a larger project for the first time, the excitement of the idea can quickly give way to the realities of getting it completed.

A professional ghostwriter knows what it takes to get a project completed successfully on a consistent basis. If that weren’t the case, they wouldn’t be surviving as a ghostwriter.

To stay consistent, professional writers establish a process that helps keep them on track. 

Adams knows this firsthand. “Most people can’t really imagine the work that goes into writing a book or professional article ahead of time. On the other hand, an experienced ghostwriter knows what’s involved and has the bandwidth, patience, perseverance, and talent to get the job done.” 

2. They have fresh eyes.

Have you ever looked at something so much that you don’t really see it at all anymore?

A big writing project can get like that.

You’ve been emersed in it for so long that you don’t even know where you start in again and what needs to be done.

When you bring in a ghostwriter, you are bringing in a fresh set of eyes.

She can review the completed work and figure out what’s missing, see what might need to be re-done, and may even have new ideas you hadn’t thought of for your project.

The key is to be open to their ideas.

A good ghostwriter is never looking to take your project away from you; they just want to help you make it the best it can be.

3. They have experience. 

Once you start your project and begin to understand the amount of time, editing, research, cataloguing, and other things that go into the process, it can be incredibly daunting.

Part of the reason that it seems so impossible is that you have to learn it all as you go. That’s not the case for a ghostwriter.

Remember, “been there, done that!” Because they’ve done it all before, it’s no longer intimidating to them. Plus, as we mentioned, they have a process now. 

4. They know your market and what sells. 

What is your goal for your project? Is it an article that you want to get published in a high-end industry magazine? Are you creating family history just for a keepsake? Perhaps you think you have the next great personal memoir to fly off the bookshelves.

Those are all perfectly valid goals, but they each come with different requirements.

A good ghostwriter knows the industry and how to cater a project to meet those end goals. Sometimes that can mean they’ll have to bring a little tough love and make you pivot your story direction or make cuts that are difficult.

Remember, the ghostwriter has your goals in mind. If you want to reach that finish line, you need to be open to new ideas.

Adams says, “A ghostwriter has to understand the author’s goals and objectives, conduct interviews, gather and review all the source materials, and create a plan from there.”

5. They may have publishing connections.

An added bonus to hiring a ghostwriter is that they may have some connections in the publishing or printing industry that could be of use to you.

Consider their portfolio and look for publishers you’d like to partner with for your book or magazines in which you’d love to see your article.

There are no guarantees here, but a ghostwriter’s experience in the industry could open a couple of doors for you or at least get you pointed in the right direction.

6. They can bring an editorial eye. 

Ghostwriters serve as editors, too.

They’ll look at your work with the eye of an experienced writer and help you clean it up, shape it, and get it in better condition than ever before.

It is still your ideas and mostly your words, but they can bring a little polish.

7. They work fast and efficiently. 

While you toil away at your project, get distracted, agonize over certain passages, and give yourself mental breaks, your project is moving at a snail’s pace, if at all.

Ghostwriters get paid to get the job done.

To this end, they’ve learned to be very efficient with their time and energy. You might be amazed at how quickly your project leaps forward in the hands of a pro.

Don’t worry, it’s in good hands! It’s like the average person changing a tire versus those professional pit crews. They have the experience and tools to make it look almost easy!

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Remember, the goal is to get the book done. The ideas are still yours. You’re just bringing in someone who can tie the loose ends together and wrap up your project, whether it’s a novel or a family history.

However, don’t expect to hire a ghostwriter and simply wait for a miracle. When asked about what misconceptions people have about ghostwriters, Adams said: “That we can read minds! We rely on the author to provide the information we need, although we’re always willing to do supplemental research.”

Trust your ghostwriter’s advice, but follow your gut, too.

Your ghostwriter isn’t looking to steal your ideas or take credit for the final work.

This is what they do, and they understand the rules of the game.

But that being said, it is your project, so if you feel strongly about leaving in a passage or some other edit, stand firm. Your ghostwriter won’t be offended.

You’ve already put a lot of time and hard work into your project. Don’t shelve it before it has a chance to shine! You’ll always wonder “what if….”

As Adams says, “Once you see the finished project and you can share it with pride, you’ll realize that getting it moving again was worth every penny!”

How Can a SME Work with a Technical Ghostwriter to Create Company Documents?

Can scriptwriters edit movies, or farmers manage grocery stores? In theory, yes. But it’s not the go-to solution for a reason.

Scriptwriters understand their movies but rarely possess professional grade editing skills. And farmers know their produce but generally lack the interest and knowledge needed to run an entire store.

The same logic applies when you ask SMEs to write company documents. Sure, some SMEs can reach into a hat and pull out the particular interest, mindset, expertise, and time needed to create those documents.

But that’s the exception, not the rule. For most companies, hiring a technical ghostwriter is a much better approach to getting those important documents written.  

Now, that may seem like a fairly broad—and possibly expensive-sounding—proposition. And you probably have many follow-up questions.

So, let’s begin by talking about SMEs and their relationship with writing technical documents. (Spoiler alert, it’s generally not ideal.)

The issues that most SMEs have with writing technical documents comes down to more than raw wordsmithing. After all, even SMEs who generally enjoy writing can struggle with technical documents. In most cases, the very qualities that make people excellent SMEs render them ill-suited to create great company documents, especially ones directly related to their particular projects.

When it comes to technical writing, SMEs’ strengths usually morph into these pain points:

  • Too close to the subject
  • Too distracted by details to focus on the larger picture
  • Don’t understand their target audience’s mindset or desires
  • Lack the bandwidth for work outside their “real” job

But when do these broad pain points actually manifest in the technical writing process, and how can a technical ghostwriter solve them? The answers depend on the specific document at hand.

Let’s start by breaking down the different types of technical writing, and identifying exactly how a technical ghostwriter can help with each of them.

  1. Documents that attract and persuade the general population
  2. Documents that instruct non-SMEs
  3. Documents that persuade decision makers
  4. Documents that inform other SMEs

Documents That Attract the General Population – Why Should Average Joe Care?

Photo by Pressmaster from Pexels

Brochures, press releases, and trade publications are the shiny toys of technical writing—they exist to catch and hold the average reader’s notice. Why is this product interesting to me? How does it make my life easier?

Such questions are to a SME what the following are to a Parisian-trained, only-buys-gourmet-beans barista: Would it kill you to drink instant instead? For that matter, what’s the point of caffeine when we could all just get more sleep?

SMEs, knee-deep in their field, don’t instinctively ask those larger-picture, accessible questions. And when someone else asks them to explain, they hardly know where to begin. A career spent obsessing over a particular stem, leaf, or twig makes it difficult to back up and view the entire tree, much less the combined landscape of forest, mountain, and lake.

That becomes the technical ghostwriter’s first job: Asking those large-picture questions in the first place, and then teasing out a useful answer.

“If you ask a pipeline services engineer what was cool about their latest project, they’ll first say something like ‘We cleared a pipeline by using x tool instead of y tool,’” technical ghostwriter Barbara Adams explains. “They won’t automatically produce answers like ‘We reduced this many emissions, which in turn reduced greenhouse gases,’ so you have to be able to get them to dig a little deeper and describe what the reader would care about.”

It’s not surprising that SMEs don’t easily pinpoint which parts of their field lay people find interesting or meaningful, and which parts boring. After all, if SMEs weren’t already inherently fascinated by their field, they wouldn’t be SMEs.

And even SMEs who do have a knack for asking and answering those questions won’t consider it a priority; their primary job is to complete the project, not defend or explain its existence.

“If you ask them a wider question like ‘Why was this important?’ or ‘How does this solve a problem?’ they can usually think of a good answer, but they consider it a waste of time to sit down and do so,” former cyber-engineer and writer Joe Brule adds.

It’s not surprising, then, that SMEs particularly dislike writing such attention-getting documents. It takes time and several mental somersaults for a SME to back away from those fine details, find the larger picture, and use the picture to catch an audience’s attention, all to convince the audience of something the SME already believes: The product or development is interesting and worthwhile.

And that’s just the mindset needed to write such documents. We haven’t even gotten into the actual time and labor involved in writing, editing, and formatting. If a SME is already reluctant to pile a fun writing project onto their full plate, they’ll run screaming from one they actively dislike.

Barbara Adams says it best: “For a press release or a trade publication, they’ll usually just hand it over to me.”

Everyone’s happier when the technical ghostwriter asks the larger questions, translates the answers, considers the audience, hooks the audience, gives them a call to action, and, most importantly, gets the words onto paper.

Documents That Give Instructions to non-SMEs – Press X While Holding Y and Gluing On Z

User manuals, policy documents, and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) teach non-SMEs how to do something. Anyone who’s ditched the user manual for a YouTube tutorial knows exactly how difficult it is to follow, much less write, good instructions. How do I use this thing? It’s a simple question. Why am I being forced to read someone’s dissertation?

Even SMEs with writing talent usually aren’t well positioned for creating instructions like manuals or SOPs—they’re simply too close to the process to break it down properly.

Teaching what feels automatic to us takes particular patience and skill, akin to showing a toddler how to hold their fork or tie their shoes. But at least parents can backpedal and answer a child’s questions in real time—someone reading a bad SOP can’t immediately run screaming to the writer.

As former Hewlett-Packard technical writer Dennis Chiu points out, SMEs often overestimate what a typical user already knows and understands. One of the ghostwriter’s main functions, then, is to catch those gaps from the beginning.

“Experts don’t break out of acronyms easily,” Chiu says. In an on-the-nose example: “You and I know what S-M-E stands for, or you wouldn’t be writing this article. But do you think the average reader knows? When I write a manual, I usually repeat the acronym several times, just to make it easier for the user. But someone else in the industry might not think of that.”

Of course, omitting information is just one pitfall—SMEs are just as likely to include far too much.

“Engineers are data people; they love to give you all this data and show off all the wonderful things this piece of software does. Most users don’t give a damn about how it works, they just wanna turn on the car and drive,” Chiu says.  

This is another case of the gap between a SME’s instincts and reader’s needs. From the SME’s point of view, the product’s extra features, backstory, and improvements are fascinating and worth knowing.

An engineer would love to tell you about tensile strength, heating element, and cost-effective material—but most buyers just want to make sure their coffee pot is dishwasher-safe.

“Even at work, SMEs sometimes overestimate what people need to know—for example, not every employee who reads news stories on the company’s internal website wants to hear all the details of a project,” Barbara Adams says.

Even if the SME could magically transmit their thought process onto a Word document, the result might be an unusable behemoth for the specific reader.

A huge part of the technical ghostwriter’s job, then, is sifting for information that actually belongs in each document, for the particular audience.

“When it comes to a user manual, I always say, ‘Just the facts, ma’am,’” Chiu says. “Don’t you hate it when you’re reading a manual, and they don’t get to the point until the fourth or fifth paragraph? My job is to make it as easy as possible to find the answers.”

Documents That Are Technical but Target Decision Makers – What Matters to the Bottom Line?

White papers, case studies, requests for proposals (RFPs), and technical request documents (TRDs) form a counterintuitive category. On one hand, they’re highly technical and thus tempting to hand off to a SME.

However, such documents usually target decision makers, not fellow SMEs. As a result, the language, goal, and scope of the paper still require a professional writer’s focus and editing skills.

SMEs often assume that people in their field speak their jargon—but in reality, a decision maker might be too far removed from those niche details.

Once again, a technical ghostwriter has good instincts for what their target audience will actually understand and writes accordingly.

Above all, the ghostwriter understands that these documents have a very specific goal—and they know what information actually pursues that goal.

Despite its technical content and language, Adams reminds us that a white paper has a marketing purpose. If left to their own devices, a SME may pile on data and details that distract from that marketing purpose.

A technical ghostwriter, however, knows what raw material is actually necessary to make the sale—and what to cut.

“When writing an RFP [Request for Proposals], SMEs often want to include their suggestions on how to do something. Which makes sense, because they’re experts and have their own opinions. But that’s not the point of an RFP—it’s a document that asks vendors to provide the solution. If you wanted to solve it yourself, would you be writing the RFP?” Joe Brule says.

Documents for Fellow SMEs – Finally, a Chance to Geek Out!

SMEs feel much more comfortable writing for fellow SMEs—that’s where conference papers, technical manuals, some white papers, and some trade publications come in.

A familiar audience, plus the rare chance to share those details, data, and tangents, make a much more inviting writing experience.

“When it comes to a conference paper, they want first crack at it,” Barbara Adams explains. “They do want help with the organization and editing, though, so I’ll look at drafts in various stages of doneness.”

Yet even with conference papers, those familiar pain points crop up. For starters, SMEs don’t always understand fellow SMEs’ language.

“A mechanical engineer may assume that a civil engineer will understand their language and world, but that’s not always the case,” Adams says.

Even two engineers in the same niche may find language barriers. “A fellow mechanical engineer who works for a different company may have picked up company-specific terms or slang,” Brule adds. “In practice, the technical writer ends up standardizing the language for the SME.”

Once again, it comes down to time—SMEs have no interest in formatting, standardizing, or editing on top of their “real” job.

Help me to Help You

With all four document categories, the SMEs’ pain points occur in at least some form: being too close to their field, not understanding their audience, being distracted by the details, and not having enough bandwidth.

And in each case, the technical ghostwriter provides objectivity, targets the audience, sees the larger picture, and—most obviously and importantly—actually gets the job done.

It’s not surprising that, according to Barbara Adams, half the SMEs she’s worked with really welcome help; the rest are willing to get help.

Then there are those who are reluctant to have someone even attempt to give them a hand. “The ones who are reluctant to work with a ghostwriter are usually afraid I won’t have the technical savvy to help them . . . there’s a learning curve, but eventually they grow to see me as a partner,” she says.

What was that last word? Ah, partner.

We’ve discussed what the technical ghostwriter brings to the table, but what can the SMEs and decision makers do to make the process easier? After talking with several technical ghostwriters, we’ve compiled some best practices they would love to see from SMEs.

1. Keep the ghostwriter on the same project from beginning to end.

Decision makers might be tempted to save time by assigning multiple writers to one product’s array of documents—one for the press release, one for the user manual, one for the technical manual, and so on. In the long run, though, assigning everything to one dedicated ghostwriter results in better documents all around.

“If I was the boss I would have the same writer create the installation manual, user manual, and technical manual,” Dennis Chiu says. “[Ideally] I’m with the engineer every day. As they write the software, I’m interviewing, I’m sitting down at the computer, I’m playing with the software myself, I’m doing revisions to my manual.”

This method also assuages the SME’s greatest fear of writers—that they won’t be tech savvy enough to keep up with the engineer. If the technical ghostwriter works on the project from beginning to end, they become an expert in their own right.

Sure, it’s tempting to bring on the ghostwriter later in the process to save money or time, but that’s like waiting until the last minute to see the doctor—problems may arise that can’t be fixed.

“If [a SME] submit[s] an abstract and it gets accepted for a conference, I can’t edit it at all, [even when] the abstract is really poorly written,” Adams says. “In an ideal world, they’d give me their white paper draft first, then I’d pull the abstract from it and edit both. When [that happens], I’m so happy.”

2. Refer to the specific style guides, glossaries, and authoritative sources.

Sure, SMEs often don’t understand each other’s jargon—that’s exactly why standard language and glossaries exist in the first place. And writers love SMEs who actually use them!

“Here’s what often happens,” Brule says. “Engineers often say ‘weakness’ or ‘susceptibility’ when they should be saying ‘vulnerability’—the National Glossary of Information Assurance has a specific definition for vulnerability. Always refer to an authoritative source like that to look up the proper terminology.”

“Please, please use the style guide,” Adams says simply.

3. Be open to questions – both low- and high-level.

Taking the time to answer technical ghostwriters’ questions can irritate SMEs, who generally want to focus on their main job.

Even technical writers with considerable expertise, however, often find interviews a necessary step in the process.

“Accept that sometimes I’ll have to ask more elementary questions,” Adams says.  

Chiu, armed with his own engineering degree, reveals that, “I like to start with the thousand-foot view, and then get into the data and details.”

“I ask the engineer to talk to me like I’m a first-time user—that’s who I’m writing for,” he says.

That being said, SMEs are often pleasantly surprised by technical ghostwriters’ savvy.

“The greatest compliment I ever had was when a SME assumed I was an engineer,” Adams says. “I wish SMEs knew that technical writers actually find this stuff interesting, and like it.”

4. Keep the technical ghostwriter informed.

Even for projects where the SME remains fairly hands-off, there’s one vital way to kick things off.

“Send me all the relevant background information at once, early on,” Adams advises. “It’s better to share too much than too little. If you leave something out at the beginning, I may have to start over.”

It’s the same reason Chiu prefers to work with programmers from beginning to end. “One update can mean I have to ditch my entire manual draft,” he said. “That’s why I talk to the programmers, I work in the same room with them.”

5. Tell the technical ghostwriter what you want.

Remember that the ghostwriter is here to help you—and they can only do that if they know what you need.

Do you want them to write the entire document from beginning to end, just edit and format, or combine existing documents? Experienced technical ghostwriters have done all of these things and are happy to be of service.

Ultimately, though, this is your document.

As Adams says, “Take ownership. It’s your paper, not mine. I’ll make suggestions, but you’re the decision maker.”

Remember the “ghost” in “ghostwriter.” They’re here to quietly help, not take over the company brand. When you have pain points, they’ll step in–just as little or as much as you want.

Who Is on Your Memoir or Autobiography Team? Why You Need the Right Members

“A memoir is about handing over your life to someone and saying, this is what I went through, this is who I am, and maybe you can learn something from it.” — Jeannette Walls

You are thinking about writing your memoir or autobiography to record your life experiences and share them with the world.

That is a wonderful idea!

Your first instinct might be to go at it alone. So, you sit down at your computer and fire away. Then, you realize that a project such as this is not quite as straightforward as you thought.

Of course, you have a head full of ideas. But you may have some difficulty translating them into an articulated text. Moreover, this may be the first time you set out to write something of this magnitude.

For many folks, writing a memoir or autobiography is a unique undertaking. Sometimes, they lack the experience and expertise necessary to complete a writing project of this scale.

Then, there is time. Indeed, some folks do not have the time to produce a full-length book. As a result, admirable projects like memoirs and autobiographies languish. Eventually, they remain incomplete.

However, a failed project is not the worst tragedy.

The worst tragedy is depriving the world of your valuable and meaningful contribution. After all, we all have worthwhile stories and experiences to share.

With a writing team on your side, your memoir or autobiography is sure to become a reality. So, stay tuned for some great tips on how to build the right team for your writing project.

Why Should You Write Your Memoir or Autobiography?

Founding father Benjamin Franklin once said, “Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.”

Well, what if you have done something worth writing? Then, it is time to write something worth reading.

Undoubtedly, we all have something to share with the world. We have stories, anecdotes, experiences, wisdom, and lessons to share. Moreover, other people are interested in hearing what we have to say.

The question should not be why should you write your memoir or autobiography. The real question is why shouldn’t you!

The reality is that there is no reason why you should not put pen to paper. You have absolutely nothing to lose by communicating your singular life experience to the world.

By holding back, you deny others the wealth of your wisdom and insight. So, the real issue becomes how to get started.

Getting Started with Your Memoir or Autobiography

The first major hurdle to clear is defining whether you wish to write a memoir or an autobiography. You must first have a clear idea of which approach best fits your goals.

Memoir

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a memoir as a “narrative composed from personal experience.” In short, a memoir emerges from your personal account of your life. As such, a memoir must contain first-hand knowledge.

Of course, supporting information can help boost your narrative’s credibility. Nevertheless, a memoir should be your narrative above any other information source.

Also, a memoir is more akin to a snapshot of your life. It generally serves to chronicle a specific chapter in your life or career.

A classic example is the choice of former presidents: Often, ex-presidents write memoirs about their time in office. These memoirs serve a dual purpose. First, they help preserve a former president’s legacy. Second, the memoirs allow readers to gain first-hand insight into what transpired during a specific administration.

Please note that the value in a memoir lies in the privileged access to information readers get. Access to this information would not be possible without the author’s willingness to pen their life experience.

Autobiography

Now, let’s consider what an autobiography is. Merriam-Webster defines an autobiography as a “written account of a person’s life in their own words.”

As you can see, we are talking about a person, writing about themself, using their words. Thus, an autobiography is a first-person narrative that takes readers through an entire life experience.

Herein lies the biggest difference between a memoir and an autobiography.

If you aim to chronicle your entire life journey, then you must consider writing an autobiography.

However, if are interested in focusing on a specific chapter of your life, you must concentrate on writing a memoir.

Once you have made the biggest decision regarding your project, it is time to assemble your writing team.

Why Do You Need a Writing Team?

Producing a full-length book is no easy task. Therefore, you must consider all the elements that go into producing a top-notch publication.

To begin with, producing a book takes time. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time to research, write, edit, proofread, and prepare a book for publication.

Additionally, these tasks require a certain degree of experience and expertise. While you are certainly an expert in your field, you may not have the necessary knowledge and familiarity with the publishing industry.

Here is where your writing team comes into play.

Your team can handle the heavy lifting for your memoir or autobiography. They can help you translate your ideas and vision into a neat package that is ready for publication.

Furthermore, your writing team allows you to concentrate on the most important task: getting your story out to the world.

They can help you take notes, write a rough draft, and polish the final manuscript into a finished product. This endeavor is similar to polishing a diamond. You have produced the most precious part of the process already. Your team will make sure your diamond is ready to present to the public.

Putting Your Team Together

A successful writing team consists of various members. Each one plays a key role in the content’s development. Moreover, they should all work together to form a seamless unit. Ultimately, they can help you produce the high-quality material you envision.

Let’s take a look at each member in detail.

Hiring a Ghostwriter

When you hear the term “ghostwriter,” you may not be entirely sure what it means. You may have even heard negative stories about ghostwriters. However, a professional ghostwriter can mean the difference between your project gathering dust and having it come alive.

Let’s be clear about something. A ghostwriter is not going to write your memoir or autobiography for you.

A ghostwriter will merely take your ideas and thoughts and translate them into professional-grade copy. In other words, a ghostwriter has the linguistic tools to articulate your ideas in the most suitable way.

A ghostwriter’s linguistic ability makes hiring this professional a worthwhile investment in both time and effort.

First, hiring a ghostwriter saves time in terms of penning the narrative. In particular, a ghostwriter can drastically cut down the time needed to produce the bulk of a draft.

Please bear in mind that there is a specific reason behind this assumption. Professional ghostwriters measure their productivity in terms of time. An experienced ghostwriter will strive to get the job done as quickly as possible. Therefore, a talented ghostwriter will do their best to produce quality material efficiently.

Second, a professional ghostwriter will seek to get the job done right the first time. This approach prevents wasted time with lengthy revisions and costly rewrites. Ultimately, hiring a professional ghostwriter greatly facilitates the entire production process.

Renowned actor Bruce Boxleitner once remarked, “So I had a ghostwriter, they call them, or somebody who is an experienced writer, to help. I’ve got the ideas in my head. It’s getting them properly on paper.”

Indeed, these words encapsulate the role a ghostwriter can play on your team. They can make the difference between an idea floating around in your head and a work of art coming to life.

Recruiting a Historian

Historians play a key role on an autobiography or memoir team. They can help fill in gaps in ways ghostwriters cannot. By definition, historians are familiar with events surrounding specific points in time. Consequently, they can provide accuracy and credibility to any book.

At their core, memoirs and autobiographies contain first-hand accounts.

However, these accounts may require corroboration to ensure their accuracy. But this is not to say that you need to “prove” your story.

The point goes beyond that.

Crafting the entire context around the events in your narrative helps the reader understand its underpinnings. Readers need to see the broader context to grasp an author’s circumstances fully. Without this context, the reader might miss important elements of your story.

Consider this situation.

An autobiography set during the civil rights movement needs to expand out to the broader social context of the 1960s. Otherwise, the reader may not fully appreciate how meaningful the content truly is. It is the larger picture that helps readers gain a full understanding of the situation around the author.

Historians can help craft that context accurately and concisely.

Like a professional ghostwriter, a historian can help you bring your story to life. Of course, your account is compelling enough on its own. Nevertheless, a historian will help you place your narrative within its rightful historical context.

Choosing an Editor

No team would be complete without an editor. A professional editor helps you refine your book’s content. Editors play a crucial role, especially if you hope to release your book through an established publisher.

Please note that editors are not merely proofreaders.

A proofreader checks for spelling and grammar mistakes. An editor does so much more than that. A professional editor can take your narrative and provide insights on various levels.

First, an editor can provide a “developmental edit.” This type of edit consists of providing suggestions and ideas on a manuscript’s contents. For example, the editor might suggest introducing a climactic event earlier in the book. Also, an editor may suggest changing the tone or pacing of the book.

Second, an editor can provide an “editorial assessment.” This is a list of recommendations on a draft that aim to make the finished product more engaging to a target audience. For instance, an editorial assessment may suggest you use a lighter tone if you want to reach a younger audience.

Now, here is a remarkable characteristic of your autobiography or memoir team: Your chosen editor and ghostwriter can work in tandem to produce your book. This approach saves a considerable amount of time and effort. By the time a manuscript reaches your hands, you will find a neatly polished work. Then, you can provide your input.

Once you feel satisfied with the finished product, you can confidently release it.

Deciding to Hire a Proofreader

Traditionally, editors handled the proofreading process. However, the use of automated proofreading tools nowadays has drastically facilitated the proofreading process. As such, you can choose to have your writing team use automated tools to check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

Alternatively, you can choose to hire a professional proofreader to go over the content.

Please note that the difference between a proofreader and an editor lies in the suggestions they make.

While an editor suggests changes in the story and the narrative’s structure, a proofreader only highlights linguistic issues. Consequently, a proofreader should never make suggestions on the writing itself.

If you prefer the human touch, a professional proofreader can deliver the plus that no automated tools can.

Bringing Your Team Together

Generally speaking, there are two ways to bring your team together.

The first approach is to hire individual members. Note that you will need time to reach out to ghostwriters and editors. Then, you will need to evaluate their track records and interview them. Lastly, you will need to meet with your entire team to review your ideas.

Once you have your ideas out there, you will most likely need to share any writing you have already done or record your stories. From there, the ghostwriter will set pen to paper. Meanwhile, a historian can conduct research to provide the ghostwriter with the elements they need to craft the narrative. Finally, the editor can review the entire narrative.

The second approach is to hire a writing agency. Writing agencies typically have an in-house staff in place. As such, they are essentially a one-stop-shop. You only need to engage with a single point of accountability while ghostwriters and editors work in the background. In the end, you can involve yourself as much, or as little, as you see fit.

Whichever approach you choose, it is important to consider bringing in a writing team for your memoir or autobiography. If you decide to go at it alone, that is perfectly fine. Nevertheless, a writing team may be exactly what you need.

Conclusion

Producing an autobiography or memoir is a dedicated labor of love. It is an endeavor that requires careful planning, time, and attention. Unfortunately, you may not have the luxury of spending days, or even weeks, in front of your computer devoted solely to writing.

Suppose you feel that you cannot get around to completing your autobiography or memoir? In that case, you must consider hiring a team to help you produce your book. Hiring a professional ghostwriter, editor, historian, and proofreader can help you bring your project to fruition.

As the great poet Maya Angelou once said, “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”

So, what are you waiting for to get your song out there? A writing team can help you get that song out of your head and into the world.

7 Fun and Creative Things To Do With Your Family History Research

Maybe you’ve only just begun researching your family’s history.

Maybe you’ve been on a deep dive into it for some time now and you’ve turned your dining room table into an absolute mess of documents, folders, photo albums, and post-it notes.

Maybe you’ve uncovered a treasure trove of information worthy of the evening news, a book deal, an HBO documentary, and a sizeable museum wing.

Maybe you’ve simply made a few interesting little discoveries and you have no idea what to do with them, but you know you’d like to share them with the rest of your family in a fun way.

Whether your situation falls into either of these camps, or more likely somewhere in between, perhaps you’ll find some inspiration in the following ideas for fun and creative things to do with your family history research.

7 Fun and Creative Things To Do With your Family History Research

1. FAMILY TREES AND TIMELINES

Family Trees

Family trees, or pedigree charts, are great starting points for family history research. 

A simple diagram of ancestors, marriages, and the children they produced can act as the foundation of a larger family history project.

If you choose to hire professional genealogists and historians to assist you with your family history research, an established pedigree chart will provide them with material to work with and a great jumping off point.

For many families, however, anything beyond just a few generations back is a complete mystery.

Simply filling in the branches of your family tree could be the whole research project in itself. Incorporating some artistry into your family tree’s final form would be a great way to commemorate the achievement.

Sites like Family Tree For You and Etsy allow you to connect with artists and craftsmen capable of creating elaborate drawings, paintings, and even wood carvings.

You can custom order giant wall hangings to decorate your home or beautiful miniatures to hand out as gifts.

However you may picture your ideal family tree in your mind, there’s a talented individual out there who can make it a reality. Maybe that talented individual is you!

Timelines

Timelines differ from pedigree charts by allowing for visuals and details beyond birth and death dates and simple lineage.

A family history timeline can highlight anything and everything deemed significant by its creator:

  • Migrations
  • Marriages
  • Establishment of family businesses
  • Achievements of notable ancestors
  • Historical events and their impacts

Your timeline can be a permanent, museum quality fixture in your home, akin to the examples provided in this slideshow from the Society for Experiential Graphic Design.

Utilizing framed photos and wall decals, your family’s timeline can also take the form of a temporary, but no less impressive installation at a family gathering or reunion.

If you don’t possess the skills yourself, a professional graphic artist can help you design your family tree or timeline for both physical display and/or publication in a family history book.

2. COFFEE TABLE BOOKS

A common end goal for many family history researchers is a self-published book of some sort. 

Exactly what that book will look like can remain nebulous at best, even well into the research phase.

If you’ve gathered a lot of great family photographs in your pursuit, consider putting out a coffee table style photobook.

A mainly visual record of your family’s history can be a literal page-turner cherished by those who receive a copy of it.

While assembling a collection of classic or rarely seen family photos is a fantastic method of recounting your family’s story, a diversity of content will make it even more comprehensive.

Search for images outside the family collection.

Libraries and town halls are great resources when it comes to searching for historic photographs of hometowns.

Another often overlooked tool for potentially finding photographic treasure is Facebook. 

It seems that almost every small town has its local historian—official or otherwise.  If your family’s hometown has one, he or she will mostly likely be found connected to a Facebook group that is in one way or another associated with the region. 

Even if this community outreach approach doesn’t produce any new images for your collection, you’ll be sure to pick up at least a bit of usable information or local lore, so give it a shot!

Digital scans of old handwritten letters or high quality, interestingly staged photos of family heirlooms can also be visually captivating and meaningful for the reader.

Be sure to include them if you have them!

Lastly, if you don’t personally have the greatest way with words, consider hiring a ghostwriter to create captions for your images to lend an air of credibility and sophistication to your completed project.

3. NOVELIZE IT!

Is there a creative writer in the family?

Do you have an interesting ancestor whose story deserves to be told?

If so, perhaps your family history, or at least a portion of it, should be presented in the form of historical fiction.

Though sometimes dismissed as just making it up, when carefully executed, historical fiction is an art form that can provide a deeply satisfying read.

Maybe your research has unearthed a few concrete facts, some correspondence, and an intriguing diary entry that tell a fascinating story when they’re linked together:

  • A grandfather who climbed the ladder from war refugee to CEO
  • A great aunt who tracked down a long-lost love after 40 years of separation
  • A cousin, homeless at one point, who eventually achieved a great success

Great untold stories like these are all around us and woven into the fabrics of our families. 

A family member with a talent for writing or a hired ghostwriter could take the known facts, combine them with informed assumptions and conclusions, and craft a dramatization of a favorite family story that would serve as a compelling addition to any family history project.

4. SCRAPBOOKS OF NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS

When our family members make the local paper, we tend to save the clippings.

It’s not uncommon to find them intermingled with the Polaroids in an old photo album: 

  • A humorously worded report, now yellowed and fragile, about a local kindergartner (who grew up to be your burly uncle) winning the local fishing contest
  • A grandmother voted Teacher of the Year by her students
  • A glowing editorial on the family business when it was at its peak

Items like these can serve as colorful additions to your family history project, as they add a great deal of value both visually and for the information they convey.

But don’t stop the search with whatever you happen to find preserved behind the cellophane!

Consult the archives at your local libraries for more mentions of particular family members or for reports of incidents that affected the family as a whole: 

  • The big flood that forced a relocation
  • The worker strike led by your father
  • The factory closure that jeopardized everyone for a time

Including the documentation of events like these will make for a very well-rounded family history presentation in the end.

5. A FAMILY RECIPE BOOK

A family that eats together stays together!

Sometimes the strongest bonds that tie a family together are the dishes that they enjoy the most.

Some families are extraordinarily talented when it comes to the culinary arts. Maybe you are lucky enough to belong to one of these fantastic clans.

Whether or not your family recipes are numerous enough to fill a whole cookbook, they are more than likely enough for you to assemble into at least one delicious chapter.

Gather up the recipes of family members who are no longer with us before they’re lost. 

Collect the favorite recipes of your oldest and youngest living relatives and everyone else in between. 

Preserve the taste of the past and a connection to your shared heritage.

Including your family’s favorite recipes when telling their larger story will help to paint a more vibrant picture of them. And with all of them lending a hand, they’ll be collectively invested in your project.

6. CUSTOM COMICS AND ILLUSTRATIONS

In every extended family there is, at the very least, one of the following:

  1. An artist
  2. A comic book enthusiast
  3. Someone who has been on an adventure

Maybe your family is lucky enough to have all three!

Incorporating hand drawn, visual arts when telling your family’s story will kick up the appeal of your project more than just a notch.

The artist in your family could illustrate stories for which there are no photographs.

You could honor your comic book loving relative by having him or her conceptualize the layout and action of a visual retelling of your family’s greatest tale of adventure.

If you’d like, with the help of a professional ghostwriter in charge of storyline and dialog, you could present your entire family history in the form of a graphic novel!

Did you know that custom comic books are a thing now?

Whether the story you intend to tell is light hearted, highly dramatic, or anything in between, companies like Your Comic Story, Custom Comic Story, and the numerous artists accessible through Etsy are ready and able to bring your comic vision into living color. 

7.  KEEPSAKES

Small, printed keepsakes are a great way to add a further touch of class to your larger family history publication:

  • Bookmarks depicting noteworthy ancestors
  • Patriarch and/or matriarch broadsides worthy of framing
  • Family history trivia games
  • Family member trading cards or even playing cards (Who in your family would you designate as The Joker?)

The Creative Family Historian is just one service that offers items like these in addition to templates with which you can create your own.

PUT IT ALL TOGETHER!

What will your completed family history project look like?

Let’s say it’s a book.

On the first page there’s an intricate ink drawing of your family’s pedigree chart or there’s a photo of the family tree that hangs in your home.

Along the bottom of each subsequent page lies a timeline outlining significant events and developments that draws closer and closer to the present day.

Flipping further along, the reader finds never-before-seen photographs, handwritten letters from long lost lovers, diary entries from the Great Depression, newspaper headlines from sunnier times, a novelized immigration story, recipes from the old country, and a comic book that graphically recounts a wild vacation.

On the cover is a watercolor painting of a house that your grandfather built with his bare hands.

It comes packaged with a bookmark in the shape of a long defunct company logo that bears your family’s name and a pack of poker cards in which your mom is the Queen of Hearts.

Maybe it sounds like a mess.  Maybe it sounds like perfection!

Your family history project should be as varied and colorful as your family itself.

There’s no right way or wrong way to go about it. In the end. it should be exactly what you want it to be.

Confusing Terms In Authorship

You glance at the cover of the memoir you are reading and realize that the author of the book is not exactly clear. There is a name on the bottom, but below that, there is yet another name. So, what does it all mean?

In the process of creating content for a book, there is frequently more than one person who contributes to the writing. The way these people are credited on the final product varies, depending on author preference and the level of involvement they had in the book’s creation.

To set things straight, we have come up with a list of confusing terms, and what they mean.

Your Guide to Confusing Terms in Authorship

Photo by Los Muertos Crew from Pexels

Author:

This is the person responsible for the creation of the book. They supply the overall ideas and stories for the book. This is also the person who frequently (but not always) will do the majority of the writing for the book. Most often, the name of the author is clearly stated somewhere on the front cover of the book.

Writer:

This is the person who takes all of the ideas for the book and turns those ideas into the written content that becomes a book. Sometimes the writer and author are the same person; other times they are not.

Ghostwriter:

A ghostwriter is a writer who is hired by the author to turn their ideas and stories into actual written content. Frequently the ghostwriter’s identity remains anonymous, as does the fact that a ghostwriter was even used. The ghostwriter flies under the radar, and credit for the book goes to the author.

Co-Author or Collaborator:

These are people who bring additional story ideas and research into the book. They collaborate with the author to conceptualize (and frequently write) the content for a book. Occasionally, a ghostwriter will be credited on a book and referred to as a co-author or collaborator.

Editor:

This is the person who reviews the writing and makes sure that the style and format are consistent throughout. They also make sure that the content flows well and does not leave any gaps or areas of confusion. Editors frequently suggest changes to make the story better and more marketable.

Co-Editor:

This is the editor’s partner in crime. They support the editor and help with all of the functions involved with editing a book.

Proofreader:

Once the final content has been written and edited, this person takes a fine-toothed comb through it and makes sure that it is free of grammatical, spelling, and typographical errors. This is the person who is responsible for making sure that the final product is ready to go to print.

Pen Name:

Also called a nom de plume or a pseudonym, a pen name is an assumed name used by an author in place of their own name. There are numerous reasons why an author may choose to use a pen name. To find out more, check out our blog on pen names and the famous authors who use them.

Seven Reasons Why You Should Hire a Professional for Your Family History Book

Your family’s history has always fascinated you. 

It fascinates others, too. 

It always puts a little smile on your face when your noteworthy reputation precedes you, as when you’re introduced to friends of friends as, say, “the gal whose grandmother worked for Walt Disney,” or perhaps “the guy whose dad built a plane in the garage.” 

Maybe your uncle’s gripping tales of life as a young man in World War II Europe never failed to put a dramatic edge on those otherwise boring barbecues. 

Or perhaps your aunt’s hilariously juicy stories of celebrity encounters during her days as a touring backup dancer were always the hit of every block party. 

“You should write a book!” some captivated listener would always exclaim. But your relative’s practiced response was always something like, “Oh, there isn’t enough there for a whole book,” or any number of other shy but flattered dismissals.  

Honestly, they were probably right to wave off such a notion.

It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Not every life comes standard with enough intriguing anecdotes to fill a solid inch of library shelf.

But the collected stories of an entire family, on the other hand, most certainly are enough for a book — a rich and colorful tome at that! 

These histories are as unique as the individuals that make up our families and they deserve preservation. They deserve to be written down, handed down, and added to with time.

Everyone who sets out to document their family’s history has a starting point. Usually, this is the impetus to begin the journey in the first place. 

Classic family stories like the kinds suggested above are often enough to get the gears in motion. But sometimes would-be family historians are inspired to begin their projects with actual, physical pieces of family history:

  • A leather-bound photo album, found tucked away in a cabinet after a grandparent’s passing, filled with dozens of black and white prints dutifully annotated with names, dates, and locations.    
  • A charted-out family tree, found folded up in a desk drawer, branching back through centuries and linking up to majestic looking coats of arms from a dozen different countries.
  • An old black trunk, the kind so many carried through Ellis Island, discovered during an attic cleanout packed with documents that haven’t seen the light of day in decades.

Unfortunately, despite the passion behind them, the quests that are born from discoveries like these often come to an early end exactly where they started. 

Between roadblocks in genealogical research and a simple lack of time, most family history projects end up on the back burner. However, with the help of a professional historian or genealogist, your endeavor can turn from a simple pipe dream into a reality.

Seven Great Reasons Why You Should Consider Hiring a Professional Historian or Genealogist

1. DEAD ENDS AND BRICK WALLS

Dead ends and brick walls exist in research just as they do in the physical world. 

A dead end is exactly what it sounds like: the end of the road where there’s nowhere else go and nothing else to do but turn around and head back to where you came from. 

A brick wall on the other hand, while seemingly solid and formidable, hints at the possibility of another side or an interior.

A brick wall could be the apparent end of a paper trail, a language barrier when tracing back to your ancestral homeland, or misplaced documentation.

An experienced researcher will know the difference between a true dead end and a brick wall. 

They’ll know when to quit and when to continue on, and they come equipped with workarounds when the potential for further investigation is there.

2. TIME

When it comes to our most precious commodity, you will definitely save a great deal of it by hiring a historian to help you write your family history book. 

Obviously, two heads are better than one and four hands are better than two. With a professional researcher at your service, your progress will accelerate exponentially. You could work together step by step or tackle multiple tasks simultaneously by delineating the work most suited to each of you. 

Historians and genealogists bring an entire career’s worth of expertise and research skills to the table.

When taking on a family history project solo, you’ll be starting out literally years behind where you could be with the help of a professional.

On another note, your family history book might have a built-in deadline. 

Maybe you’re hoping to have it completed in conjunction with a certain milestone, such as an elderly family member’s birthday, or the big family reunion next year.

When working with a professional historian, they can take these factors into account and advise you on the best course of action to create the most comprehensive final product possible within your given time frame.   

3. MONEY

The cost of producing your family history book will vary, depending on numerous factors, such as its length, breadth, and final trim size or design. 

Taking on a project of this scale completely uninitiated will definitely result in at least a few financial setbacks. 

First off, you’re likely to waste a lot of time. And, as the saying goes, time is money.

Also, you’ll inevitably find yourself burning cash on postage, shipping, fees for document procurement, and various subscription-based services. Not to mention a lot of unnecessary personal travel.

A professional historian or genealogist will have connections, a plan, and a proven method in place that produces the desired results within your budget.

While hiring a professional is likely not going to be less expensive than doing the work yourself, you will get a lot more bang for your buck going this route.

Historians and genealogists live and breathe this kind of research, so they will be able to streamline your project and avoid a lot of the hiccups that would be encountered without their help.

4. DISTANCE

People tend to move around a lot. Here in the United States, especially, it seems that most of our ancestors were quite mobile. It’s the norm for Americans to have many miles between their current locations and their points of origin. 

Our shared heritage of migration is a veritable fountain of captivating history, but it’s also a source of frustration when it comes to tracing our family’s moves backwards in time.

Our forebears crossed seas and oceans and, in many cases, spread out across the country.

Retracing their movements, finding evidence of their presence in one location or another, and locking down the documents that they left behind can be incredibly time consuming and even overwhelming for a first-time researcher. 

An experienced historian or genealogist will know exactly where to dig, and can travel to the places your ancestors once lived to do the nitty gritty research for you.

5. DIGITAL LIMITATIONS

The advent of the Internet was undoubtedly a massive leap forward for human ingenuity.  Eventually, it will probably be credited as a catalyst for our continued evolution as a species. 

It’s been said time and again that anyone who owns a smartphone is carrying around the entire catalog of human knowledge in their pocket. When it comes to sleuthing out your family history, however, Google will only get you so far. 

The various online ancestry sites may find a few recent birth certificates, death records, and marriage licenses.

And you can use satellite imaging to take a peek at what’s left of the old family homestead on the other side of the planet (if you happen to know its coordinates), but that’s about all.

Up until very recently, the entirety of human documentation existed in the analog world of ink and paper.

A qualified genealogist will know when, where, and how to contact churches, town halls, libraries, and hospitals in the pursuit of documentation that will help you paint a vibrant portrait of your family’s history. 

6. DNA

Sadly, many modern families do not have a firm understanding of exactly where their ancestors originated.

Thanks to the Human Genome Project and DNA analysis—a relatively recent addition to the arena of genealogical research, such mysteries can finally be solved. 

If the plan for your family history book includes a deep dive back in time and a wide scope, professionally interpreted DNA tests will add to the richness and diversity of the story it tells.

Your family’s DNA will provide direct, scientific confirmation of a heritage that previously could only be presumed.

The results are often unexpected and illuminating. And your hired historian or genealogist will know exactly how to take those fascinating results and use them to find fresh routes to investigate. 

7. QUALITY

Recruiting historians and genealogists to help tell your family’s story will ensure that you end up with a comprehensive and polished final product. 

All interesting avenues will be explored. 

The reporting will be accurate in its entirety. 

If you aren’t confident in your abilities with the written word, many historians and genealogists are associated with ghostwriters who can help you dial in the diction to your exact preferences. 

They can even connect you with artists who will design your book’s cover, so it mirrors how you see it in your mind. 

Your family history book should be perfect. The lengthy and emotional adventure from concept to print should be free from even a single regret.

Its final form should be exactly as you’d hoped it would be, if not even better. And it should stand as a cherished heirloom that makes you burst with pride each time you hand out a copy.

With a little professional help, you’ll get to that very place.