A few people have asked me how I went about funding my family history book. Many want to make a book, however they soon discover that it can be an expensive proposition. After having been through the process of writing and selling a family history book to family members, I have learned some important lessons on reducing the cost of your book and making it affordable to all family members.
Here is how it worked for me. We created a beautiful 190-page book through Ancestry.com. We chose this program because in our opinion it was the best on the market, however probably the most expensive. When all was said and done our book came in at $117.76 per book, (I can here you all gasping, and trust me I did as well).
Let me start by saying, it was never our intention for the book to be that expensive, but we decided the path and chose to reduce the cost through other measures. At the end of the day, we were able to sell the book for $55.00 (at no expense to us).
I have created a list of options to consider helping you reduce the costs of your book. You can use all of them or choose ones you feel most comfortable with for your situation.
1. Seek out Sponsors /Advertisers
Consider offering a memorial page in your book. For a fee, you can offer relatives an opportunity to pay tribute to a relative who has past while collecting funds to help reduce printing costs. Alternatively, perhaps some relatives with businesses would consider taking an ad on an advertiser’s page/ sponsors page. You can sell spots; family members can advertise their business or just provide sponsorship for a fee in exchange for a place of recognition in the book.
You can seek out donations, anonymous or otherwise, this can greatly reduce your costs. We received several anonymous donations. Don’t under estimate this option. Let it be known you are looking to reduce costs so that all family members can afford a book. Donors looking to provide a greater good for the family will welcome the opportunity to help.
3. Printer Discounts
Many printers set their prices based on the number of books you order; the more you order the greater the discount. We took a pre-order for the book, to determine how many books we would require. If we sold over 20 books, Ancestry would offer us a volume discount. We sold 75 books; this resulted in a substantial savings.
If you have a family reunion, consider having a fundraiser for the family history book. A silent auction is great fundraiser. Ask relatives, to bring or better yet make something for the auction table and sell them off to the highest bidder. A family yard sale is another great way to raise funds. We received book expenses raised through a fundraiser at the previous family reunion.
5. Size of the Book
Many print-on-demand companies offer a base rate. This base rate allows you to print a book up to a certain number of pages before charging you for every page after that. Once you go over the page limit then the book becomes exponentially more money. Although I seriously did not follow this tip, I can certainly recognize the effect it had on the price of the book. For example, Ancestry.com gives you a base rate of $29.95 for the first 20 pages. Everything after that is an additional charge of 75 cents a page. Therefore, if you can keep your book to a reasonable size it will go a long way to keeping the cost down.
After all our discounts, donations and sponsors, the cost of the book came down from $117.76 to $55.00. We were able to order 75 books at this price, and this included a couple of free books for the authors, the archives and a couple of relatives who were instrumental in providing information for the book.
Once you are ready to order, ask for payment upfront so when the bill comes in you won’t be left chasing down money or are stuck with books you can’t sell.
I knew I had a sizeable audience to sell to, and they knew they were in the book, so this made it a far easier sell for me. The key is to know what your audience is willing to pay, whether that be a free or a $55.00 book, or somewhere in between. Then you take the necessary steps to create a book that falls in their price range.
I wasn’t able to create a free book, but I reduced the cost by over 50%. I suspect if I had chose a more inexpensive program, or reduced the size of the book, I have no doubt that I could have created a free family history book. However, I believe we created a beautiful book and at an affordable price.
The lessons I learned certainly paved the way for the next book, I hope they can for you.