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Writing Books/Non-fiction book


Hi Sandy, I recently wrote two books via and used their software.  These were books for my family; one was a book on my niece's wedding, the other was a book about my sister and my relationship with her.
I have always been a writer.  I enjoy it, but have never - in the past - had a good subject to write about, until now.  For the past few years, I searched for my genealogical roots.  Both my parents were secretive about their past, and I had no I decided to search for them.  After searching for two years, I have found my relatives on both sides and in addition, learned some interesting things - that my mother was not Italian but Jewish German/Polish, and that my father was a direct descendant of Francis Kendall, the first Kendall to arrive in the U.S. in the 1600's.  I have images of census pages going back to the 1700's that show my ancestors.  I think this would make a great book, especially since genealogy is hot right now.  I don't know how to start however - I don't know what software to use, especially for an image-heavy non-fiction work.  My main question is - what kind of software?  And after that, I'll get to marketing it.  I mainly need to find out the first step, of which software to use.  BTW I have already started my book on the Blurb software, but the software itself has bugs and can be frustrating.  Thanks in advance, Roberta Kendall

Hi Roberta,

Firstly, sorry for the delay in answering, but I have been travelling from France to Australia and only just arrived.

Okay, your questions raise a lot of issues. You are right about genealogy being hot right now and with that in mind I would strongly advise that you do not limit yourself to self-publishing. Even in the little you wrote I can see that you have a story that would sell well to a very wide audience.  Marketing a self-published book is a recipe for wasting a huge amount of money with little prospect of selling books. Over the years I have watched many people attempt this with very negative results.  The bottom line is that an individual can not compete in the market with major publishers. Your book deserves better!

Having said that, your second question becomes easy to answer. Blurb is aimed at the "vanity" market and certainly  not worth the time and effort. A normal computer with a MS Word program is what you should use.  More importantly, before you go too far down the track with your book, I would get an agent.  You have a very interesting story and I imagine a good agent will leap at it. This means the opportunity to get an advance from a publisher as well as getting a great deal of expert advice from agents and editors. This may change the style of book that you have in mind, but will result in something splendid which could well make you a very well read author. Your subject matter is superb for the present market and as someone who has written a memoir, I can tell you it can be very rewarding in every sense.

I know this is probably not the answer you expected, but it would be a pity to self-publish such material.

I wish you all the best.


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Sandy McCutcheon


Author of 22 plays, 12 bestselling thrillers, a memoir and children's fiction.I can work with people on the process of writing, what to expect and ask for from an editor. How to work with the publisher`s marketing and publicity people. And how to survive book launches and publicity tours!


Published author of 22 plays, 12 bestselling thrillers, a young adult and three non-fiction titles. Visit his Moroccan blog at for a look at his blogging work.

St Andrews, Helsinki University and other institutions. Adult Educator of the Year Award, Australia

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