Tag Archives: free resources

Monday’s Link Roundup.

For this Monday’s Link Roundup I’ve found some great tech articles for you. Two that particularly interest me are Kindle’s Personal Document Service and 5 cloud storage services compared.  Kindle offers some intriguing possibilities for personal historians. And if you use a cloud service as I do, then do yourself a favor and compare services. You may want to switch.

  • We’re Crazy About Books and Confused About eBooks. “…you don’t have to read books to be crazy about them. Published authors command attention and respect even from the people who don’t have to budget how much they’ll spend at their local bookstore … A book is a social object, to riff on Hugh McLeod’s conversation. Not only that, it’s a fetish item or physical souvenir. We gift books. We hold onto books after we’ve read them because we largely can’t make a case to let them go.”
  • What Hoops Will You Jump Through for Your Clients? “… we usually do our best to meet client requests–even that means jumping through some hoops to keep the client satisfied. However, some customer requests are just plain unreasonable. This post describes some “hoops” that aren’t worth jumping through–even to make a client happy.
  • Kindle’s Personal Document Service. “It’s looking like a Kindle Christmas in my family…Why? It’s all about Kindle’s new Personal Document Service. Designed to make it easy for Kindle owners to send personal documents to their reader, it also allows them to authorize others to send documents too. This means I can “publish” family stories by simply emailing the document to my family’s Kindle addresses.”
  • Free For All: From CreativePro.com. “This month’s mixed assortment of free resources includes 2012 calendar templates; a vector kit of pre-press and markup symbols; 13 typefaces; 60 photos of paper; and one way to sign and send a document without a fax machine.”
  • Unlikely Book Club.[video] “Steve Hartman reports on the book club that’s inspiring people in other states and countries. It all began with an unlikely friendship between two men, one a lawyer and the other homeless.”
  • 5 cloud storage services compared. “… personal cloud services have been slowly easing their way into almost everyone’s computing plans.That’s not you you say? You don’t use a cloud service? Really? Do you use Dropbox to store files? Do you get your e-mail at Gmail? Are you experimenting with Apple’s iCloud? Doing work with Google Apps, Office 365, or Zoho Docs? Congratulations, you’re a cloud user.”
  • Protect Your Legacy for up to 100 Years. “The SanDisk Memory Vault is the first product from SanDisk engineered to preserve your most important photos, videos, documents, and scanned files for generations to come. The company claims the device has been tested to support data retention for up to 100 years.”

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

This Monday’s Link Roundup has some great free stuff. Be sure to check out Free Genealogy Software and Grab Our 20-Part Online Marketing Course. If you just want to gaze at some mouth watering photos, you won’t want to miss the World’s Most Beautiful Libraries.

  • Free Genealogy Software. “Several of the free genealogy programs are very powerful and none of them are “limited trial offers.” However, upgrading to the “Plus Editions” of a couple of programs will add even more features.”
  • Kindle Books Now Available at over 11,000 Local Libraries. “Kindle and Kindle app customers can now borrow Kindle books from more than 11,000 local libraries in the United States. When a customer borrows a Kindle library book, they’ll have all of the unique features they love about Kindle books, including Whispersync, which automatically synchronizes their margin notes, highlights and bookmarks, real page numbers, Facebook and Twitter integration, and more.”
  • Grab Our 20-Part Online Marketing Course (It’s Free!) “Want to discover the smartest ways to mix social media, content marketing, and SEO for lead generation and developing new business? We’ve got you covered with Internet Marketing for Smart People. And there’s absolutely no charge.”
  • Culturomics. “The library of the future will contain a unified text comprised of all books and magazines and newspapers (and blogs) completely hyperlinked and co-located. This aggregation has already begun to happen as Google, Amazon and others digitize the books of our libraries and keep them machine readable. What if you could read all the books at once and deduce the patterns among their billions of words?”
  • TED. Words About Words. “Language is the stuff of thought — the more we know about it, the better we will understand ourselves. These speakers are trying to crack the mystery.”
  • National Association of Memoir Writers Announces Guest Speakers. “The National Association of Memoir Writers is showcasing talented authors and teachers who are experts in Creative Nonfiction and memoir for the first ever Teleconference on Truth or Lie—On the Cusp of Memoir and Fiction, for the bi-annual National Association of Memoir Writers Day-Long Memoir Writing Teleconference, scheduled for October 21, 2011.”

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

This Monday’s Link Roundup has two terrific lists, 100 Resources for Writers and 50 Best Memoir Blogs. And if you want to read about the value of life stories for terminally ill patients, be sure to check out For The Dying, A Chance To Rewrite Life. 

  • Objects and Memory. “The documentary film Objects and Memory depicts experiences in the aftermath of 9/11 and other major historic events to reveal how, in times of stress, we join together in community and see otherwise ordinary things as symbols of identity, memory and aspiration. In its exploration of people preserving the past and speaking to the future, Objects and Memory invites us to think about the fundamental nature of human interaction.”  [Thanks to cj madigan of Shoebox Stories for alerting me to this item.]
  • Blast From the Past. “Wondering what hot topics your grandparents discussed with the neighbors, or what tunes your mom whistled as a teen? Want to flesh out your family’s story with facts about everyday life? Enjoy reminiscing about days gone by? Our book Remember That? A Year-by-Year Chronicle of Fun Facts, Headlines and Your Memories, by Allison Dolan and the editors of Family Tree Magazine, is an accounting of the whos, whats, whens and wheres of the 20th century.”
  • 100 Resources for Writers. “I don’t necessarily use or outright endorse all of these resources myself. Thing is, in compiling this list I started thinking, “Who am I to judge what is helpful for other writers?” My goal is to provide you with a starting point for online exploration, not tell you what to do. So if you hate some of this stuff? Fine, not my fault! If you love it? I take full credit!”
  • For The Dying, A Chance To Rewrite Life. “For several decades, psychiatrists who work with the dying have been trying to come up with new psychotherapies that can help people cope with the reality of their death. One of these therapies asks the dying to tell the story of their life.”
  • The Women’s Museum. “A Smithsonian affiliate, The Women’s Museum™: An Institute for the Future makes visible the unique, textured, and diverse stories of American women. Using the latest technology and interactive media, the Museum’s exhibits and programs expand our understanding of women’s participation in shaping our nation’s history and create a lively environment for dialogue and discovery. Thousands of stories recount public and private triumphs and the struggles of those who would be denied their freedoms in all its forms: political, social, and spiritual.”
  • 50 Best Memoir Blogs. “Our list of the 50 best personal memoir blogs is full of poignant childhood tales, scandalous anecdotes, and valuable resources for any aspiring writer. They may even inspire you to write your own!” [Thanks to APH member Catherine McCrum for alerting me to this item.]

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How to Start and Run a Personal History Business.

Disclosure. I’ve contributed one small item to this book but I will not be receiving any renumeration from its sale.

I’ve just finished Jennifer Campbell’s recent book  Start and Run a Personal History Business published by Self-Counsel Press. If you’re thinking of making personal histories a business, you owe it to yourself to get this book. Jennifer knows her stuff. She’s been a professional personal historian since 2002 and prior to that had a 25 year career as an editor, writer, and interviewer.

This 180 page book is packed with the kind of information I wish I had when I was starting out. The 16 Chapters cover:

  • the world of personal history
  • the business of personal history
  • getting started
  • business foundations
  • pricing
  • producing a sample
  • a guide to producing a personal history
  • interviewing
  • marketing
  • an online presence
  • publicity and promotion
  • sales
  • client relations and customer service
  • time management and project management
  • growing your business
  • accelerating your success and managing growth

In addition, the book comes with a CD-ROM which includes all of the sample templates used in the book as well as resources to help you in your business.

If you buy Personal History Business for nothing else than the chapter on pricing, it’s well worth the investment. For personal historians who are starting out, determining what to charge clients is a challenge. Jennifer’s detailed step-by-step approach will give you the help you need to ensure that you keep your business profitable.

What struck me about the book is that Jennifer makes it clear that running a personal history business takes more than just a love of people and their stories. Her book is like a splash of cold water.  After reading it, if you’re still enthusiastic about establishing a personal history business, you’ll  go into it with your eyes wide open. A word of caution. Don’t become overwhelmed by the content. There’s a lot to digest. Read it through once for an overview and then come back to chew on smaller portions.

I like Jennifer’s candor. For example, on business plans she says, “Like a lot of small business owners, I resisted doing a business plan for a long time. I think it was a psychological block…I finally got some serious business coaching…”  In my eyes, her honesty makes her more credible because I know that she’s writing from personal experience.

The book is also sprinkled with useful tips. They’re terrific. And I wish she’d included more of them and highlighted them so they stood out from the surrounding copy. This brings me to my only real concern and that’s the overall layout and design of the book.

My personal preference is for some breathing space around blocks of text. I found the information on the pages visually congested. I longed for more white space, bolder titles, and little sidebars with tidbits of information, like her “tips”.  I would have found it easier to absorb the wealth of material with more visual help. Having said this, I’m aware that there are production costs to consider when designing a book. And Self-Counsel Press, the publishers,  probably have a standard layout from which there can be  little deviation.

Layout and design aside, this is an excellent book. If you’re serious about establishing a personal history business, you need to do two things -  buy a copy of  Start & Run A Personal History Business and join the Association of Personal Historians.

Monday’s Link Roundup.

If you only have time for one item in this Monday’s Link Roundup, don’t miss  Alice Dancing Under the Gallows. It’s the trailer for a documentary about Alice Herz-Sommer, the oldest living Holocaust survivor.  I guarantee that your faith in people’s capacity for survival, love, and forgiveness will be reawakened.

  • E-Mail Auto-Response. A Humorous twist. “Thank you for your e-mail, which, if it is under three (3) sentences long, I have read. Owing to the large volume of e-mails I’m receiving at this time, please note that it will sometimes take up to fourteen (14) calendar days, though sometimes longer (and sometimes much longer), to respond to your e-mail;”
  • Awesome Download: Toolkit for Making Written Material Clear and Effective. “The Toolkit includes detailed guidelines for writing, graphic design, and culturally appropriate translation from English into other languages.  It includes a book-length guide to methods of testing written material with readers, and covers special topics in writing and design.  These special topics include cautions about using readability formulas to assess material, things to know if your material is for older adults, a comparison of written material on websites versus written material in printed formats, and an extended “before and after” example of using the Toolkit guidelines to revise a brochure.”
  • UNESCO’s Ten Best Intangible Cultural Heritage Sites. “Most people are familiar with UNESCO’s “World Heritage Site” designation, but may not know that the organization also has identified cultural “intangibles”— traditions or living expressions that are deemed equally important to safeguard, such as traditional performing arts, social practices, festive events or traditional craftsmanship.”
  • 10 Tips for Blogging Your Memoir or Any Book. “No other activity expands one’s presence on the Internet as effectively as blogging. And what activity better plays to an author’s strength? We have the talent necessary to write our way to book sales. Now, there are tricks to making the effort more manageable and effective, but it still comes down to your writing.”
  • Time for Life. “The goal of Time for Life is really pretty simple, to inspire and encourage people to pause to think about what is really important in life. No amount of money can ever buy anyone a single additional year, day, hour or second. We only get it once.”
  • White Paper: Preserving Your Family History Records Digitally.“This paper discusses the benefits and challenges of using digital preservation to both augment and enhance the preservation of your family history records. It also explores solutions to the challenges, identifies what types of family history records are suitable for digital preservation, and summarizes what is required to get started archiving digital records.”

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I’m Celebrating!

This week marks an important anniversary for me. Drum roll, please!

Two years ago I launched this blog and wrote my first post. Since then I’ve written  310 articles and 41,365 viewers have visited the site. A big thank you to all of you who’ve dropped by. And a special thanks to those who’ve taken the time to leave a comment or two.

From the collection of articles, I’ve selected 15 of my favorites. These are not necessarily the ones that received the most attention from readers but they are the posts that I really like and I think deserve an encore. For those of you who haven’t seen these posts, I invite you to stop awhile and have a read.

Photo by Jule_Berlin

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Wow! More Free Resources!

As those of you who frequent my site know, I occasionally pull together free Internet resources. Previously I compiled a mega list of 100 Free Resources for Personal Historians. This was followed by 20 More Free Resources for Personal Historians and More Free Stuff! Well I’m back with more free resources to help you with your personal history work. Please note I don’t personally endorse any of these sites because I haven’t tested or used all of them. If you are familiar with some of these services  or products and would like to leave a comment about your experience with them, I’d welcome such a review.


25+ Free Vector World Maps. “If you are in search of a high quality vector World map, then your search is now over. Most of the vector maps below are of the highest detail and accuracy, some have been designed specifically for designers and others to be used by everyone for whatever the project. They are all in either .ai (Illustrator) format, .eps format or .svg formats.”

Photovisi. “…a free and easy to use online tool to create photo collages. Select one of the many collage templates, add your photos and then customize by dragging items around. After the collage is finished, it’s available for download and print!”

Diagram Designer. “Simple vector graphics editor for creating flowchart, diagrams and slide shows.”

30 Boxes – Online Calendar. “…lets you connect with the people who matter most.”

Zoho. “… a suite of online applications (services) that you sign up for and access from our Website. The applications are free for individuals and some have a subscription fee for organizations.”

Wordle.“…a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes.”

Babylon. [Free Trial] “It offers text translation in 33 languages and Wikipedia results in 21 languages, all in a single click.”

The Levelator. “Do you believe in magic? You will after using The Levelator® to enhance your podcast…It’s software that runs on Windows, OS X (universal binary), or Linux (Ubuntu) that adjusts the audio levels within your podcast or other audio file for variations from one speaker to the next, for example.”

Apture. “The leading provider of context for readers and publishers. By adding Apture’s simple code to their website, publishers can plug the holes in their content and let readers open related background material, view related photo slideshows, or watch videos from these popular destinations, all in an innovative second layer that keeps users on the page. Best of all, it doesn’t require any editorial effort.”

toggl. “A helpful tool for freelancers charging by the hour who need to keep track of exactly how much time they spent on what task.”

Cacoo. “…is a user friendly online drawing tool that allows you to create a variety of diagrams such as site maps, wire frames, UML and network charts.”

PDFmyURL. “A simple, one-function site that converts any live Web site into a static PDF file–something handy for offline reading, long-term archiving, and sticking on PDF-friendly e-book readers like Amazon’s Kindle. It can also be a lifesaver, if you’re on a computer without PDF-making software that would otherwise enable you to “print” a PDF copy of your own.”

TribalPages. “Build your Free Family Tree website online. Invite friends and family to view or update your site. Each private and secure website is loaded with Photos, Charts, Reports, Maps, Relationships, Events and Stories. Just add names of your relatives or import a GEDCOM file and instantly create your website. Your site can create custom newsletters for each member with birthday and anniversary reminders, recent site activity and send them out every two weeks.”

Celtx. “The world’s first all-in-one media pre-production system. It replaces ‘paper & binder’ pre-production with a digital approach that’s more complete, simpler to work with, and easier to share.”

Pixorial. “… created to liberate the world’s video – to empower people of all ages to share, create and connect with friends and family through video.
With Pixorial, you can easily send, upload, edit, organize and share your video memories.”

50 Free Resources That Will Improve Your Writing Skills. “You will find copywriting blogs, dictionaries, references, teaching classes, articles, tools as well as related articles from other blogs.”

75+ Online Travel Resources. “We’ve rounded up 75+ sites to help you on your way, including travel search, deal sites, travel social networks and user-generated reviews. Bon voyage.”

20+ Free Press Release Distribution Sites. “We’ve gathered 20+ sites that will help you with getting your press release out in the world for free.”

OpenZine. “A publishing platform with web browser based tools that provides an easy way for anyone to make their own magazine, for free…To preserving the design experience of print we’ve created amazingly powerful one click layouts. You can even change them as you go!”

OurStory. “… is here to help you build and enrich your relationships and connections by guiding you (and others in your circle) to recall, write about, and illustrate life’s most important memories. In one easy-to-use, organized place, and in a rich environment that celebrates all of the stories – big and small – with the words, photos and voices that help tell about your journey, at the same time honoring your choices regarding privacy. OurStory delivers—finally—a way to hold on to life’s incredible moments, and to keep them in a place where others can share in your journey.”

Photo by Luke  Stearns

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“If You Write It, They’ll Buy It.” Just Ain’t So!

The following guest article is published with the kind permission of Susan Owens of Tales for Telling.

For all but a few famous authors, whether a book is self-published or published by a big name like Random House, “selling” books is in a very real sense up to the author. What sells books is buzz, getting people excited about the topic, the author, or both, marketing, and the author being willing to push the book at every opportunity. Some people are great at this; others think that once their book is printed and on Amazon, they’re done. Sadly, “If you write it, they will buy,” just ain’t so!

Of course it’s important that a book be well-written, well-designed, and attractively presented. But the sad truth is that a lot of good books  have languished on the shelves while a lot of bad books have sold very well. Why?  Because they’ve gotten the right publicity, or because the author is famous.

Distributing books, on the other hand, is a different matter. Self-publishing houses like iUniverse and others do make certain that the book gets on the list to be distributed by places like Ingram (most bookstores order from this source) and that it can be purchased from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com. Some houses arrange for the book to be made available electronically for Kindle or other e-book sources. As important as these logistical steps are, I don’t think it can be said that these houses are “selling” books. What they are doing is facilitating the process so that when the author sells books, people have a way to get them in their hands. That said, here’s an interesting article about self-publishing: The Basics of Self Publishing

Here’s what to do to get a book into the distribution channel so that when the author generates that buzz, the book is out there to be had.

  • Determine who the publisher is. To publish a book for sale, you need an ISBN number, which can be purchased in blocks of ten but only by a publisher. Would you be the publisher? Or would the author?
  • Get ISBN numbers and barcodes.  If you have hardback and paperback, each gets a different ISBN. Click here for more information.
  • Register copyright with Washington, DC. This isn’t required but it’s certainly a good idea. It costs $45.  Don’t do this until the manuscript is pretty final; changes of more than 25% of content, I believe, require a new registration.  For more information click here.
  • Figure out what BISAC code you want to use. These are often printed on the back cover. This helps bookstores to shelve the book (for example, Self-Help, Memoir, etc.) See this website for more information.
  • Find a librarian trained to do publisher’s cataloging-in-publication data. This is the stuff on the copyright page that the Library of Congress does for traditionally published books but will not do for self-published books. However, I think it adds a level of professionalism to a book and also helps librarians to add it to their databases. This means libraries are more likely to buy the book if it’s marketed to them. Your local library may be able to recommend someone with this expertise.
  • Register book with the Library of Congress. You also have to send them copies when the book is printed. Click here for more  information.
  • Try to get the book into the Ingram catalog. Check this website for more information.
  • Get the book on the Books in Print list. Here’s a link with more information.
  • Get it listed on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Also have the book included in the “look inside” feature. For information on selling a book on Amazon click here.  And for info from Barnes & Noble click here.
  • Make an e-book version available (for Kindle users, at least). I know one author I worked with had requests for this almost immediately when he started to give talks and push his book. And fortunately, the publisher we had used was able to comply pronto.

After all of this the work begins. Actually before that, because the author should begin to generate publicity about the book months before it’s released. This should include a web page, perhaps a Facebook page or blog, etc. Once the book is out, there should be press releases, speaking engagements, radio/TV appearances, and so on.

I hope this helps.

Photo by katiew

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The Most Commented On Posts of The Past Year.

These are not necessarily the posts with the most readers but they are the ones that drew the most comments. For those of you who may have missed them, here’s your chance to see what caused the flurry of comments. If you’ve already read them and didn’t comment, it’s not too late to join in the discussion! ;-)

  • The Cluttered of The World Unite! “…We seem to be inundated these days with exhortations from neatness mavens to declutter and organize our lives for a happier and better tomorrow…”
  • The Power of “No”. “…saying No will help you not only with your work as a personal historian but also with your life in general…”

Photo by iStockphoto

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More Free Stuff!

I love free stuff.  What’s not to like about it? And with so many really great resources out there, why pay when you can get it for free?  Previously I listed 100 Free Resources for Personal Historians followed by 20 More Free Resources for Personal Historians.  If you know of some free resources that you use and like, let me know. Here’s some more free stuff I’ve found. Enjoy!

  • PagePlus Desktop Publishing Software. “Serif PagePlus SE is the FREE desktop publishing (DTP) software to design stunning publications for home or business with no previous experience! With FREE PagePlus SE you can easily create outstanding menus, greeting cards, posters, brochures, documents and catalogues. Our easy to use free desktop publishing software ensure you create amazing documents for every occasion!”
  • Posterous. “…the dead simple way to put anything online using email…We love sharing thoughts, photos, audio, and files with our friends and family, but we didn’t like how hard it was… so we made a better way.”
  • FreeFoto.com “The largest collection of free photographs on the Internet (link back and attribution required).”
  • Toodledo. “An easy to use, online to-do list. Get organized, stay motivated, and be more productive.”
  • Smilebox. “…a photo service that lets you quickly turn life’s moments into digital creations you can share with others or save for yourself.  Choose from hundreds of ecard, scrapbooking, and slideshow designs for every occasion. New designs are released every week. Personalize and share your Smilebox creation for free, or select premium options for print, DVD burning, expanded music choices, and no advertisements.”
  • TwoGoals. “Simple web application TwoGoals keeps you focused on only the most important tasks—by creating a page where you can record your two main objectives.”
  • Mint. “Mint manages your money by sucking in data from all your bank, credit card, and other accounts, providing you regular reports on what you’re spending and how to save.”
  • Storybird. “Publish your stories, sell your art, and connect with fans. Storybird is a creative and commercial platform built just for you.”
  • Home Inventory. “Create a home inventory of everything you own on this site, a service of the Insurance Information Institute, and throw in digital pictures or even scanned purchase receipts to make sure what’s yours is yours. “
  • Springpad. “Manage your life tasks with online notebooks filled with lists, photos, notes, and maps/directions you can share with the whole family. Perfect for tracking receipts, planning meals or trips, and getting your house organized. “
  • Timetoast. “… allows people to create interactive timelines, which they can share anywhere on the web. Anyone can join Timetoast and start creating and sharing their own timelines, all they need is a valid email address. It’s completely free!”
  • 200 Free Online Classes. “A high quality education doesn’t have to come at a high cost. In fact, it’s possible to take classes from big names like Yale, MIT, and Tufts without ever submitting an application or paying a cent in tuition. We’ve compiled 200 online classes from these and other respected institutions, and you can take all of them with no strings attached.”
  • Stamina Typing Tutor. “Amusing, yet multifunctional touch-typing tutor with support for several layouts.”
  • Free Audio Books Online. “This is a listing of 60 sites that legally offer free audio books, either for online listening or for download.”
  • GoodSharing. “…a free web service that helps you share your stuff with trusted friends. Founded in 2006, GoodSharing gives you and your friends a place to list items you are willing to share (we call them “ShareItems”), makes it easy to search and request a ShareItem, and keeps track of items that have been borrowed from you.”

Image by iStockphoto

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