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Writing Local History Today

A Guide to Researching, Publishing, and Marketing Your Book

Thomas A. Mason and J. Kent Calder

Hardback
Paperback
eBook
Writing Local History Today guides local historians through the process of researching, writing, and publishing their work. Mason & Calder present step-by-step advice to guide aspiring authors to a successful publication and focus not only on how to write well but also how to market and sell their work. Highlights include:
  • Discussion of how to identify an audience for your writing project
  • Tips for effective research and planning
  • Sample documents, such as contracts and requests for proposals
  • Discussion of how to use social media to leverage your publication
  • Discussion of the benefits and drawbacks to self-publishing
  • An essay by Gregory Britton, the editorial director of John Hopkins University Press, about financial pitfalls in publishing
This guide is useful for first-time authors who need help with this sometimes daunting process, or for previously published historians who need a quick reference or timely tip.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers / AASLH
Pages: 148Size: 6 x 9
978-0-7591-1902-4 • Hardback • October 2013 • $81.00 • (£54.95)
978-0-7591-2395-3 • Paperback • October 2013 • $33.00 • (£22.95)
978-0-7591-1904-8 • eBook • October 2013 • $32.99 • (£22.95)
Thomas A. Mason is Adjunct Lecturer in History at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis.
J. Kent Calder is the Executive Director of the Texas State Historical Association, located on the campus of the University of North Texas, Denton.
Introduction
Chapter 1: The Consumer: Who Is Your Audience?
Chapter 2: Evidence: Where Do You Find It? How Do You Use It? (Research)
Chapter 3: Communication: How Do You Shape a Specialized Subject
Chapter 4: Economics, Design, and Production: How Do You Produce and Market
Appendix 1: Sample Author’s Guidelines
Appendix 2: Sample Contract for an Article
Appendix 3: Sample Contract for a Book
Appendix 4: Sample Contract with a Photographer
Appendix 5: Sample Request for Proposal for Typesetting and Printing a Journal
Appendix 6: Sample Request for Proposals for Writing a Book
Appendix 7: Sample Request for Proposals for Publishing a Book
Appendix 8: Why Books Cost: Or a Glance at the Microeconomics of Book Publishing for Small Publishers, by Gregory M. Britton
Bibliography
Writing Local History Today is the nuts and bolts guide that every local historical society or author needs. From the inception of your idea to distribution and marketing, you’ll find all you need for print or digital publishing. The book made me rethink how I approach writing local history; I wish I had it years ago.

Ann Toplovich, executive director, Tennessee Historical Society


Writing Local History Today asks the very important question: "How do we create a book of local history so that intelligent readers find what they want to know and will emerge with a better understanding of the world in which we live?" From concept to research to writing to publishing the old fashioned or electronic way, this book, by two professional editors and writers, gives concrete advice that any serious local historian will appreciate.
Carol Kammen, author of On Doing Local History


Writing Local History Today presents a gold mine of advice for prospective authors, from the big-picture conceptual perspective down to the grittiest details of researching, writing, and publishing. Authors who are already in print will wish this volume had been available when they were writing their books. Those just setting out on their writing journey will count themselves fortunate to have this astute and thoughtful guide to light their way.
Nelson D. Lankford, Vice President for Programs, Virginia Historical Society


Writing Local History Today is essential reading for anyone planning to write or publish articles, stories, or books about local history in the twenty-first century. Mason and Calder combine the wisdom of long experience with a firm grasp of present-day technology and economic reality.
Beth Luey, author of Expanding the American Mind: Books and the Popularization of Knowledge


This whip-smart publication combines the nuts-and-bolts content of a must-have reference book with the charm of a personal narrative. Tom Mason & Kent Calder translate a lifetime of experience into a compact, compelling guide. Whether you’re a novice author or a seasoned historian, you’ll appreciate their insights.
Jessica Dorman, Director of Publications, The Historic New Orleans Collection


Mason and Calder have produced a “How to” book that first asks “How would you…?” The result is an engaging reference that writers of local history will find as essential as the dictionary, thesaurus, and style guide.
Ty Cashion


Mason (history, Indiana U.) and Calder (executive director, Texas State Historical Association) present this handbook for local history authors in four pointed chapters. The short first chapter impresses considerations of audience and its influence on style and tone. Chapter two covers the research process, including where to find records and how to use and evaluate different kinds of sources. Chapter three explains how to translate a large body of research into a readable text. The final chapter discusses the economic and design aspects of getting a book published. A large section of appendices provides sample contracts, submission guidelines, and a recap of book finance from the publisher's point of view.
Book News, Inc.


Written in an accessible and non-technical style, each of the four chapters provides sensible advice on the different stages of producing a work of the genre. In addition, eight appendices provide practical information and samples on author guidelines, contracts, and requests for proposals. . . .[T]his book constitutes a practical guide for authors in local history and church historians will no doubt benefit from consulting it.
Anglican and Episcopal History


The collaborative work of Thomas A. Mason and J. Kent Calder, Writing Local History Today: A Guide to Researching, Publishing, and Marketing Your Book is a 148 page instruction manual specifically designed to assist the novice writer seeking to produce salable work in the field of writing local community histories. Deftly organized into four chapters (The Consumer: Who Is Your Audience?; Evidence: Where Do You Find It? How Do You Use It?; Communication: How Do You Shape a Specialized Subject for a Nonspecialist Audience?; Economics, Design, and Production: How Do You Produce and Market A Book That People Will Pay For?). Succinctly comprehensive, immanently practical, thoroughly 'user friendly', and enhanced with the inclusion of eight appendices ranging from 'Sample Author's Guideline' to 'Why Books Cost: A quick Lesson in Finance for Publishers', a four page Bibliography, and a comprehensive index, Writing Local History Today will prove to be an invaluable addition to any aspiring writer's reference shelf in general, and a 'must' for anyone wanting to enter the specialized field of local history writing in particular.
Midwest Book Review


Writing Local History Today answers dozens of questions and offers much concrete advice. Calder is executive director of the Texas State Historical Association and Mason teaches at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. . . .The book is designed for those doing local history who want to ‘enhance [their] research and make their writing of it more effective’ and those who want to understand the process and prospects of various kinds of publication. . . . The book opens with a chapter on audience, reminding authors to give this issue serious consideration because their decisions about readership are crucially important for a domino cascade of other choices, such as what to include and what not include (and how to decide), the level of language, the scope, etc. Mason and Calder include practical guidance, too, on citing sources and avoiding plagiarism, on writing a proposal, on book design and ecomonics, and marketing.
Two especially valuable chapters focus on research and writing. In ‘‘Evidence: Where Do You Find it? How Do You Use It? (Research),’’ the authors offer a terrific guide to primary sources and how to gain access to them. They also offer guidance on how to assess different kinds of sources, too, such as newspapers, diaries, and various official accounts. Any of them can be valuable, the authors remind us, but none of them gives ‘the answer.’ All of them need to be used carefully. The communication chapter includes direct, intelligible, and good rules for good writing that could benefit many authors not just local historians). . . . I recommend reading it in conjunction with Carol Kammen’s On Doing Local History and Joseph Amato’s Rethinking Home. This trio of books will spur the imagination, offer guidance and support, and will help any writer of local history grapple with the really hard, good, interesting, and worthwhile issues that face them (us).
us).
The Public Historian


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