The first copy of our book has come in, crisp and fresh from the
binder’s. What a delight, what a feast to the eye, as we turn its
wholesome pages! None can imagine the joy of this hour–it must be
experienced. It never fails us. True, we may be veterans, who have seen
many a campaign; nevertheless, each new battle thrills us afresh. Is her
fifth babe nothing to the mother, because she has had four children?
Just ask her, dear reader! And so is it with the joy of hailing our
latest-born, fresh from the press-room and bindery!
But already the reader begins to sigh. “Now, at last,” he cries, “I have
exhausted the sensations that my book can give!” Friend, speak not so
hastily. Have you forgotten the great joy of publishing? the excitement
of getting the book before the public? the sweetness of the hearty
congratulations of friends and fellow-workers? the delight of reading
the press notices and the book reviews? the pleasure of receiving your
publisher’s smile and handshake as he tells you how well the book is
selling? the deep satisfaction of banking the goodly checks which
accompany his reports of sales?
The most substantial fruits of our labor are still untasted when our
book comes from the press, and in order that these may be enjoyed to the
full by the reader we offer him the practical suggestions of this
closing chapter. We assume that the garments of his offspring, obtained
from the printer, are all that they should be. Otherwise, the pleasures
of publishing can never be realized. Neither our friends, nor the
reviewer, nor the great public, will enthuse over a shabby book. Why
But the reader of these pages, we trust, will have had his work nicely
printed. He is now ready to market his book, and he desires the advice
of experience as to ways and means.
First of all, choose a publisher. Have the imprint of a firm of good
standing, furnishers of excellent books to the public, upon the
title-page of your volume. This will be found to be a great advantage
even if the author expects to push and sell his own work.
In the second place, arrange if possible with the publisher to list and
handle the book for you, through the book and library trade. Have him
put it upon his catalogues, which are regularly furnished to the
booksellers. No individual can well attempt to handle this end of the
business himself. He does not know how to go about it, and if he did,
the necessary machinery of manipulation would be too costly if set up in
connection with a single book. But the publisher has this machinery
already working in the interest of his other books, and he only needs to
take ours on his list in order to give it the benefit of extensive
Other things being equal, choose a publisher who is located in the
great book and literary centre of the country. No doubt the cost of
printing and publishing is a trifle more in a large city, where rents
are high, than in country or semi-country places. Nevertheless, it is
worth while. The prestige which goes with the right place of publication
is a satisfaction to the author and a substantial help to his book.
By all means, if possible, commit the printing and the publishing of
your book to the same hands. While the book is still in process of
making, the plans for bringing it before the public should be arranged.
Preliminary announcements can be made, and it can be put into catalogues
which it would miss if placed in the hands of a publisher only after the
printing had been done. Literary notes, circulars, review slips, and all
the paraphernalia of its announcement to the public can thus be
prepared, and all be ready for the campaign as soon as the book comes
from the press. This is a very important point.
Genealogical works should be committed to publishers who have already
had experience along this special line. The sale of genealogical works
depends very largely upon a special kind of circularizing which will
bring them to the attention of those particularly interested–public
librarians, historical and genealogical societies, and special
collectors. And whether the book be a “clan” or “Grafton” genealogy,
there are many who will be anxious to own it, on account of distant
tribal connections, and who can be reached only by the proper methods.
A little judicious advertising may prove a paying investment. For this
the author is altogether dependent upon his publisher. He who ignorantly
plunges into the luxury of advertising may readily sink a large fortune,
without returns, in a very short time. Or the little that he has to
invest will all be thrown away. But the experienced publisher is like an
old fox that has learned the ways of hounds and hunters and is not
easily caught. Such a publisher knows the best mediums, where a modest
notice almost always brings good returns, and one cannot do better than
to reap the fruits of his experience.
If the reader desires to try his own hand in the work of publishing, we
wish him well, and advise him that the only way in which he may hope to
realize sales is by carrying out, as well as he can, the regular methods
of the publisher.
The truth, however, is that the author cannot expect to do for himself,
even in a modest way, much which the experienced publisher does for him.
The avenues to the book trade, the book reviewer, and therefore to the
general public, are not really open to any of us who are not
publishers–as we can soon learn by making the attempt to travel,
unpiloted, in these directions.
The only genealogist who may hope for any measure of financial success
by his own efforts, is the author of a “clan” genealogy who has
systematically gathered the names and addresses of the living
representatives of the “tribe” his book exploits. These may be
circularized, and appealed to on the ground of family pride and of fair
play. The least they can do for a historian who has toiled for their
glory is to take a copy of his book.
The plan commonly adopted is to make such works “subscription books”
from the beginning. The author fixes a price for his forthcoming volume
and as he sends letters for information to living representatives of the
tribe, he invites a subscription to his book. But whether these
subscriptions have or have not covered the cost of production by the
time the book is ready for the printer, why should the author not seek
to realize all the additional profits which can be secured through the
regular channels, aided by a publisher?
The services of The Grafton Press can be secured as the publishers of
any good genealogy, as well as in all the other capacities hitherto
mentioned. Probably such a connection would approach as near to the
ideal set forth in this chapter as any which it would be possible to
make. Added to all the rest, it certainly would secure the hearty
co-operation of an experienced firm which pushes the works of
genealogists with special zeal and enthusiasm.
The publishing of a “clan” genealogy will be cheerfully assumed at any
stage in the production. If desired, the “subscription” feature will be
taken in hand, and that as soon as the author begins his work. Or if he
has handled this feature during the progress of authorship, every effort
will be made to realize the further profits from a proper introduction
of the book to the public.
The service rendered may be in the capacity of publishing agents merely,
or that of a kind of partnership arrangement in connection with the
author’s book; and the work in question may be a chart, a pamphlet, a
volume, or a work of still larger proportions. The desire is to
co-operate so as to give the worker all the fruits of his toil, and
secure to him all the profits which the best business methods can
Many readers will be glad to know what the general prospect is for the
sale of genealogical works. In the matter of immediate sales, such books
are not unlike others: some have a good run and others sell more slowly.
Nor can the author or publisher be certain in advance of the fate of a
book. The favor of the public is a peculiar thing, and the quality which
makes a book popular is frequently beyond the power of analysis or the
ken of the prophet.
In the case of “clan” genealogies, much depends upon the size of the
“tribe,” its financial circumstances, degree of family pride, and proper
education in a genealogical direction. The rest depends upon the author
and the publisher–upon the employment of the right methods in
presenting the claims of the book.
But in general, and in the long run, it is undoubtedly true that there
is scarcely another kind of book which enjoys the permanent popularity
and marketable character of the genealogical work. Immediately after
publication, in the case of many “subscription” genealogies, or in the
course of a few years, in most cases, the book is at a premium. It does
not get out of date, like books on other subjects, but becomes more
desirable as a historical authority and treasure as time passes. There
will be a demand for it fifty, seventy-five, or a hundred years hence.
This is what experience has shown. Genealogical works compiled on the
principles set forth in this little book, with a permanent historical
value which can never be shaken, because they set forth the proofs of
their statements, will never lose their marketable value. Property
rights in such works by copyright and copyright renewals should be
secured by their authors. The demand will last so long as Americans take
an interest in the question of their ancestry, and the price will
increase as the copies become scarce.
In conclusion we will suppose that the reader has at length tasted all
the delights of research, all the excitement of the discovery of
ancestors. He has experienced the pleasure of compiling a Grafton
genealogy, and the joy of seeing it pass from the manuscript state into
that of the printed volume. The triumphs of successful publishing, the
delight of reading the reviews and the satisfaction of realizing a fair
profit on the sales, have all been his. And now perhaps he sighs as he
thinks that nothing remains but the reminiscence of past enjoyment.
But here we offer the reader another suggestion. Would he have all those
pleasures and delights once more a reality, and not merely a memory?
Then let him begin again at the beginning, and _start another
genealogy_! And when that is finished let him start a third one! What a
glorious prospect! Added to all the joy and excitement of each
achievement there is also the prospect of a little stream of checks from
the sales of each work–two, three, four or five streams instead of one!