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Publishing Local History


Almost every town in America has a historical society, working hard to preserve the stories of ordinary citizens by building a comprehensive collection of local historical documents and artifacts.

These materials preserve the unique story of an individual town, educating kids about where they came from by honoring the accomplishments of their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.

Many of these small historical societies develop exhibits and hold events commemorating their town’s history. But the bulk of the materials – letters, diaries, photographs, programs, brochures, playbills, etc. – remain faithfully preserved in the museum’s library or archives, available to the public only in “raw” form for research purposes.

If you have an interest in writing, why not partner with a museum and write a book? There are several local history publishers, such as Arcadia Publishing, who are currently accepting proposals for book titles in a variety of formats.

Most local history publishers want their books illustrated with at least 50 photographs. Reproduction and copyright fees can be expensive and are the responsibility of the author. Partnering with a museum will help defray those costs.

Local history books can lead to book signing events and speaking opportunities for the author. Programs not only help boost sales, they also generate interest in the community about its own history.

Writing local history will not make you rich. A standard publishing contract offers the author 10% of the wholesale price of a book. Usually this amount averages to around $1 per book, payable twice a year. Writing local history is more a labor of love, and a community service, than a money-maker. But the process is fulfilling, and leaves a lasting legacy for future generations.

If you would prefer reading a book instead of writing one, check for local history books in your town’s bookstore or library, or visit online booksellers for titles.

The author has written three books with Arcadia Publishing:

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How to Write a Local History Book
Museum Career Skills -- Research and Writing
Arcadia Publishing
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Content copyright © 2014 by Kim Kenney. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Kim Kenney. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Kim Kenney for details.

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