Saturday, September 24, 2022

Writing and Publishing a Family History Biography

Well, that took longer than I anticipated!

A year ago, I took a sabbatical from blogging to focus solely on writing and self-publishing a biography of my fifth great-grandfather Thomas Kirk. Followers of this blog know that he was a genealogy passion project bordering on obsession. With laser focus and unrelenting determination, I dug into his late 18th- and early 19th-century life, hoping to rekindle his life's story despite heartbreaking records loss at nearly every turn that nearly snuffed out his flame and made him my white whale folly. But the brick walls and roadblocks hardened my resolve and I wizened up, figuring out creative ways to sift his story from the ashes.

What followed was an arduous process of wrapping up my decade of never-ending research, writing, editing, rewriting, and writing some more.  

When I began this project, as an amateur chiseling at the tome in my limited free time, I could not imagine how time intensive, expensive, and all-consuming the effort would be.

To achieve the vision I had for my magnum opus, I worked with a slate of freelancers to edit the manuscript, sketch illustrations for chapter headers, and design the book's dust jacket. Along the way, I learned so much about self-publishing and there are many things I would do differently if I had it to do again. But, at the end of the day, as copies of my book are now making it into the hands of Thomas' descendants across the country, I'm incredibly gratified to have accomplished my biggest family history endeavor to-date (and also relieved!).

Check out this unboxing video that celebrated publication with his descendants (the book's target, niche, and sole audience).