If you have a family history that you want to publish, there are several ways you can do this.

Let’s assume for the moment that you want to publish the book in print format, but you don’t want to become a publisher or maintain a lot of inventory. You want to make the book available to family members, but you are not making a career change!

A number of print-on-demand vendors can help you, but I am just going to list three:

  • CreateSpace – An Amazon company – will allow you to upload book interiors and covers in PDF format. Additionally, they can design the covers for you. The books get an ISBN, basically for free. You have to pay for the printing and shipping of a hardcopy proof, so that you can verify that what they will produce meets your expectations. Once you have approved the proof, the book can be made available on, Amazon, and even to libraries and physical bookstores.
  • CafePress – This is one of the first companies in the space. They started off with t-shirts and mugs, and eventually expanded to CDs, DVDs, and books. As with CreateSpace, you upload  PDFs of your content and cover, and they print books when someone orders one. The downside is that the books are only available from CafePress, and do not have an opportunity for wider distribution, but the initial cost is lower, as you are not required to buy a proof if you are confident that what you sent will work.
  • Lulu – This company is a favorite among genealogy circles. Book titles are only salable through their site, though, as with CafePress, you can order a handful (and a discount) to sell. Lulu also ships for free if the order is more than $20. One thing that sets Lulu apart is that if you sell a print book at Lulu, as well as an e-book (which they distribute through Apple’s iBookstore), the e-book is linked from the listing for the paper book.

I recommend that you get a proof of any print-on-demand title that you create. While each of these is interesting, for me, CreateSpace is the most interesting option, because of the range of distribution options open to me from CreateSpace.

I will post more on this topic, as well as on how to turn your family history into an e-book that you can either give away for free or sell.