Interview – Susan Petrie of The Troy Book Makers

The Troy Book Makers

[Editor's Note: Here is an interview with  at Susan Petrie, author liaison at The Troy Book Makers,  in which we discuss self-publishing and its role as a component of genealogy and family history.

Look for more of these interviews here at GeneaBloggers in the future. I think as the genealogy industry evolves, many of our readers want to learn about the process of developing a genealogy-related product and bringing it to market.]

How did the concept of The Troy Book Makers develop?

Two independent bookstore owners, Eric Wilska and Susan Novotny, were seeing so many self-published authors come into their respective stores with very expensive but low-quality, poorly constructed books and they set out to help authors print well-designed, good-quality books with low up-front costs. Since 2006, we’ve helped over 300 authors do just that.

How can self-publishing benefit genealogists and family historians, and specifically genealogy bloggers?

Self-publishing lets you tell your story, the way you want it told. Each book is unique and made to an individual’s specifications. We always offer industry guidelines, as well as suggestions to keep costs down, if that is important. Otherwise, we take our cue from the customer. In addition, we keep files archived, so an author can return again and again for short print runs (as few as 10). Or, if necessary, we can easily return archived files to the customer.

Genealogy bloggers could print small runs of their research, and then add additional volumes (using the same layout) as their information expands, keeping research in a tidy, uniform format. We can print books with as few as 24 pages.

Of course, the kinds of books featuring family trees, recipes to hand on, and ancestral stories are limitless!

What are the advantages of using the services of The Troy Book Makers over a site such as Lulu or Blurb?

Troy Book Makers has a small, dedicated staff of three. We are easily accessible via phone or email, and since one person handles a project start to finish, that person is accountable for each step of the process. We can also provide answers to industry questions. If, for example, someone is confused about what an ISBN is and why it might be necessary, we can explain it.

Typically, how long does it take for a book to get published with Troy Book Makers once a manuscript is finished?

Actually, there is no typical! Authors have different skill levels with technology, varying resources (like a sister who designs book covers), and have varying amounts of time to devote to their project.

Here are some examples:

  • If an author submits a print-ready PDF for cover and interior, and turns the proof around quickly with minimal corrections, then it can take as few as four weeks.
  • If we are designing a book’s interior and cover, it’s usually three weeks for a proof, then another 3-4 weeks once the final proof has been turned in.
  • Some authors are quick and turn their proof around in 24 hours with few corrections, others have a lot of changes and may need 2 or 3 proofs.
  • If a customer communicates a deadline, we always let them know if it’s something we can realistically accommodate. Sometimes we can’t.

We’re honest about the amount of time it takes to create a quality finished product.

Have you seen an increase in the need for self-publishing services and if so, why? Is it the economy? More leisure time or early retirement?

Well, we’re expanding, so there has definitely been an upsurge in business for us in the past year. It’s hard to know what exactly is causing it, except that the idea of getting your words into print, into a book format, is something people seem to have been longing for. Having access to a community printing resource isn’t a new idea, just one that seems to be taking hold again. Word is spreading, writers are finding us. Our customers have been local, regional, and from around the world.

What book are you reading now?

I’m reading Parisians by Graham Robb, and for inspiration, Brenda Ueland’s classic, If You Want to Write. (I’m also a self-published author.)

* * *

Susan was also kind enough to let me know that The Troy Book Makers has a special “family history package” available which includes:

  • interior formatting (submit stories as .doc or .rtf)
  • cover design
  • image scanning (up to 12 original photos–black-and-white)
  • printed proof copy (for review, and to make any final changes)
  • 25  5×8 books (printed black and white, paperback, on acid-free paper with a full color cover)

The package price is $500 USD.

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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