View Full Version : Personal historians lurking?

02-15-2007, 12:54 AM
Hello all. First time on the boards but I've been a long time "lurker". I look, I read, and get reenergized to get back to work so I can pay the college bills for the kids.

Got a new challenge in place and looking for some help please.

I've been contacted by a local business owner who's starting a new company offering written family biographies. Say you want to capture all your mom's family memories,recipes, stories whatever. You'd hire this company to "publish" this for your family. The owner gives you a starter questionnaire ( pages and pages) that you fill out with memories, facts and figures. Then I (THE PROFESSIONAL WRITER) swoop in after reading all this gathered info, do a couple of taped interview sessions, and write the thing. Averages about 100 pages. The company then reviews it with the family, gets it printed and delivers it to them.

Anyone done anything like this so I can estimate my time, and therefore set an initial rate for this?



02-16-2007, 06:54 AM
OK, listening to the deal you have outlined . . . what does the other person bring to the table?

You can go out, pitch family histories, write the books, and get them published. What do you need him for?

As to time, it could be anything. Ten hours . . . a hundred . . . a thousand.

If I might make a suggestion . . .

Investigate the genealogy market in your area. Older people are more likely to put considerable sums into such works.

www.ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com)
www.rootsweb.com (http://www.rootsweb.com)

Ol' Fashioned Girl
02-16-2007, 07:33 AM
Good words from johnrobison. And the software that a lot of these genealogists use (I'm one of 'em) is Family Tree Maker - which also makes up books for you. I'm sure the other packages do, also.

And he's talking for one book? The price would be so high only the wealthy could afford it. If you do get into it, you'd be wise to tell the guy 'my time is worth $x.00 per hour'. I wouldn't do it for $x.oo per book - there's just too much unknown and too many variances/variables.

02-16-2007, 09:30 AM
Beware of FamilyTreeMaker it uses a proprietory database format that self destructs.

02-16-2007, 08:46 PM
Thanks John and others for the comments.

Good point on asking what he brings to the table. He's a businessman with the up front cash right now...I thinking that I'm purely the writer for hire in this project. He does the marketing, negotiating, interaction with the families (quesstionaire coordination, initial discussions) up until my one/two in person interviews. He has someone trascribe tapes of interviews and along with the info from the families gets it all to me. I get a couple of weeks to write, famlies review. I do one edit/rewrite (additional at hourly rates) then I step out. I GET PAID. He handles billing, design, book covers, printing and coordination with families. By this time time I'm hopefully on to the next family's project.TO GET PAID AGAIN.

I also can do marketing, and pr for this at my usual hourly rates if I have the time from other projects.

Why not just do this on my own? Well, I hadn't really thought of it! He did! He was referred to me by a long time client who uses me for copywriting projects. There is one woman in town who does something like this...but she only does 1-2 a year. I can't/don't want to give up my other clients/projects to devote full time to do because those darn colleges expect me to pay the bills for my two college students... but I do think not only would it be personally fulfilling to me to have capture family memories and it could open the door for me to do some corporate histories in town for MUCH HIGHER project fees.

I'm going to explore it with him a little more next week. There is a great untapped market of very wealthy families in our region who I think would pay well for a project like this.

I love the feedback-thanks to all. Keep it coming!


02-17-2007, 12:40 AM
You should definitely Robert Atkinson's The Gift of Stories in which he has a section on life interviews. This may be beneficial to your writing if you have a say in what questions are included in the questionairre.