the grumpy genealogist

Ever wanted to write a family history book? Where you can talk about your successful children, show off your adorable grandkids, and tell the wondrous tales of childhood spent with your loving parents and grandparents?

Great! But, if you want to include your cousins AND sell copies to them, you better have something about their families, too. Here's a discussion I found on Facebook recently. The names have been changed to protect these uninteresting cousins:

TONY:  It really aggravates me to have waited for a genealogy book and then to receive a piece of junk. Thanks uncle, thanks cousin for nothing....... What a joke.

MOM:  I know Tony! Sorry!!

TONY:  Not your fault mom.

COUSIN BETH:  I assume ur talking about our family book. I heard about the book but have not seen it. I also heard from someone it was expensive. Did u expect much different?

TONY:  Was hoping. Big let down, Beth.

MOM:  Your right Tony! Was hoping!!! I should have known better!! The title of the book should have been named for only a couple of relatives. Seeing that about 1/4 of the book was about their immediate family and not about the entire family!!!

SISTER:  yes and I agree! What a huge let down. Its very unprofessional with pages upside down etc. Its really a brag book for certain relatives, If I'd known it was a brag book I would have bragged on my family too. I really want to ship it back and get my money back. This book is a bunch of copied papers in a binder probably from office depot, Not worth the money paid. I'll never buy another from these people again.

OUCH! I'm betting that's not the reaction the author was going for. Yeah, maybe cousin Tony never finished high school and his kids are on crack, but you approached him and took his money for a book about HIS family. So what have we learned here?

  1. Your kids aren't that cute. They are minor characters in the eyes of your audience. Limit their space in the book. Some will say "but I'm writing it for THEM." Okay. Then don't expect your cousins to offset your publishing costs.

  2. When people get a family book, they look up themselves and their children first. Stories of grandpa come second. Seek out the relatives with the fewest lines devoted to them, and try to get more info.

  3. If you must tell lengthy stories of your immediate family, then also help the cousins write their own bios. Otherwise do a separate book, just for you and yours.



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"If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance." - George Bernard Shaw