“How to Publish a Family Book,” Ensign, Aug. 1982, 59
So you want to write a book. Why not let your family devote a family home evening to discussing and initiating your own family book? You’ll notice that your family feels a closer bond by working together, and it’s a good way to help younger folks learn initiative, cooperation, and responsibility.
A how-to book is a good way to involve all members of the family because everyone can contribute in some way. Various chapters could explain how to build a simple wooden toy, how to play a favorite game, how to do calligraphy or paper mache, how to mark the scriptures, how to entertain kids on a trip, how to make a certain gift, and so on.
There are a number of ways to structure the book, and you might want to consider alternative approaches: you could gather all kinds of topics together in a kind of potpourri collection, or have a central theme or themes, such as crafts; hobbies; family life; children’s interests; or old-time recreations, foods, and remedies. You may want to have a book divided into chapters within larger units so you can handle several kinds of subjects, or treat one subject in depth.
Whatever your approach, a leader should be chosen who will coordinate all aspects and follow the project through to completion. Spend a few minutes talking about ideas and resources—what library materials will be helpful and available, which family members have what skills and talents, who in the ward or stake might help, what facilities are available for typing and printing. Then set a time for a planning session.
At the first real planning meeting, the leader will need to direct a brainstorming session on what topics to cover, how the book will be organized, whom to ask to do what chapters or sections, and other aspects of the project. Talk about individual responsibilities and how much time will be needed for each step in production of the book. Then some decisions need to be made—the book’s overall style, its scope and length (how long each chapter should be, how detailed the instructions should be), how much illustration will be used.
Next, the leader should assign or offer choices of responsibilities to those involved. Responsibilities may include contacting family members if the extended family is to be involved and inviting them to participate; assigning topics for chapters; collecting finished drafts; acting as bookkeeper and treasurer; typing and editing; design, layout, and artwork; supervising or doing the printing itself (professional, mimeo, or photocopy) and binding.
After the initial discussion, keep this family project separate from your weekly family home evening. You might want to take just a few minutes at each home evening to talk about the project and to bring everyone up-to-date, but make this a brief conversation, not a report session.
Enthusiasm will stay higher if the whole project is handled in a relatively short time—three months should be more than sufficient for most family groups. The leader will probably need to act as General Prodder to keep some family members on top of their production responsibilities.
Planning and carrying through such a family project may be compared to designing and making a quilt. Each piece contributes to the texture and quality of the end product, and each is important to making an interesting and satisfying whole.
Once you’ve found out you can do it and have developed your basic skills, why not do your personal or family history, or a book about one of your forebears or a certain family line? The rewards of such a project are pride and love in our heritage and a testimony of God’s goodness to us. Kathy Stephens, Woods Cross, Utah