gem22, on 30 June 2011 - 01:37 PM, said:
Nigel (and any other authors out there)
My background of working in hospital laboratories, for virtually all of my working life, ill befits me to become an author. However, my interest in the Great War and my work for the Royal British Legion, and local Family History Society, have led me to gather together all the information I think I need to put together a book about the men of our village who died in that war. But where do I start?
Would any of you who have written similar books be prepared to help me with a few ground rules about layout and content? I'm quite happy to worry about publishing at a later date, it is the simple fact of putting pen to paper (finger to keyboard) that scares the living daylights out of me. Give me a blood sample to analyse or a dead body to cut up and I'm as happy as Larry! But writing is not my forte and never will be. So I wonder if anyone can help? Please!
I have never written a "book" but have done a lot of documenting my family
and have written a Master's dissertation (and now tutor others to do the same).
Point one is whether you want to make money (either for yourself or for charity) or you plan to commit money to your venture (and do not want to make a loss!).
- If so, you need to produce something that people want to buy - so you need to decide who is your potential audience and how they would find what you know interesting.
- If not, you could consider starting a blog (possibly on GWF, but if you want a wider audience look at Wordpress.com (or Blogger.com) - it's free and they will host your blog for you, so all you have to do is type it in - you can "inhibit visibility to the world" until you are happy). Of course if you want it to be read it also has to appeal to your potential readers, but because it is nil cost, "reader appeal" is not as critical.
If you want to go down the publishing route, go down to your local library and look in the local history section for "local books"; have a look at their size (dimensions and number of pages/words), their visual presentation, their writing style and (if your library has the old fashioned borrowing slips,) how often they have been borrowed. If you have a good local bookseller, they might be quite happy for you to browse for purposes of market research - and might tell you what sort of thing sells and what they would be willing to stock.
If the men were predominantly in one unit, you could write a potted history of the unit (being careful not to plagiarise anything written by anyone else) and then follow that with brief biographies of the men (almost as a set of appendices which could be very factual - which gets around the problems of not knowing too much about some of the men - you don't need to strain to write a narrative on thin material). However if there was some "theme" connecting many of them (workplace, church, conscription, local newspaper coverage, etc.), you might write something around that theme, weaving in the biographical information. That may make a work that is more appealling.