Writing your Hometown HistoryWriting a book about your hometown will be the most frustrating writing project you will ever attempt, but it will also be the most rewarding-if you do it correctly. Do it wrong, though, and it will be one of your more humiliating experiences. This book is designed to show you how to get it right. Get it right and you will also make a decent profit.
Hometown history authors reap the benefits both professionally and emotionally because they understand what it takes to make money as an author. But these writers are also recognized and respected authors in their hometowns-everyone knows who they are because they wrote their hometown's histories. Unless you are Stephen King or some other well-known fiction author, there is no better way to gain the respect of your family, friends, and neighbors. So if you are looking to further your career as a writer and put some money in your pocket, writing a hometown history is the best solution available.
I have included a lot of topics and suggested that you dig deeply into many of those subjects. You should realize that these are just suggestions. You cannot include this entire list in your book. For a city of 20,000 residents, you would need a 10,000-page book, which is not reasonable or even possible. If you had time to do all that research, you could not afford to print the book. Certainly, no publisher would pay the cost of printing huge books for such a limited market (unless you could convince a publisher that you could get hundreds of dollars for each book).
The purpose of this book is to give you ideas to work with. Pick and choose the topics that are important to your city. Ignore the rest. If your city is known as a medical city, then, by all means, delve deeply into the history and present-day activities of the medical community. You need to accentuate the positive. If a realtor sells you a house, she will point out all the great features of the house. If she mentions any of the bad features, she will simply gloss over those things. Your job as a city historian is to put your city's best face forward, not to point every little character flaw you've ever discovered-leave that to the news media.
Mark Stepp is the managing editor of Old American Publishing. He has made his living his entire adult life as a writer and editor. In addition to being a fiction author, he is a former newspaper and magazine editor. The primary business of Old American Publishing is publishing Hometown History books.