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Selling the Book

A book worth writing is worth preserving and promoting.  One of the first steps in preserving and promoting the history is to make sure it is well printed on good stock (preferably acid-free paper) with a durable cover.  Care should be taken with the cover design and a decision will have to be made as to whether the book should be in softcover or hardback or both; also whether the book should be in folio, quarto, octavo or some other size.  Avoid odd sizes including folios.  Your readers and especially librarians want books that fit comfortably on their book shelves.  An odd sized book must of necessity be placed not on the book shelves, but on some closet shelf, out of reach and possibly out of mind and sight.  An odd-sized volume is also difficult to carry around or send through the mail or piled on the tables in the narthex for sale to the congregation.

Decisions must be made as to what information should be included on the back of the cover, on the flys of the hardback dust jackets and in the extra pages following an appendix.  Also be sure to have the book copyrighted to protect it from illegitimate use.  Write the Copyright Office, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20559 for all necessary information.  The copyright information should be placed on the verso of the title page.

Lay down careful plans for promoting your history.  Release periodic progress reports to the church and local newspapers.  Promote sales by establishing a pre-publication price.  Enough books may be ordered in this way to cover the entire cost of the publication.  Of course, the actual price of the book will depend in part on whether the church is subsidizing the volume or whether the price of the book will be expected to pay for all expenses.

Together with the pastor and the choir director plan a special dedication service on the Sunday your history is to be released.  The entire Editorial Committee, of course, should be present and recognized, especially the editor-author.  After the service they should be seated at a table to sign copies.  It might be a good publicity scheme to ask some of the members of the church to donate a copy to the libraries in the community.  On the day of the special service, representatives of these libraries should be present to receive their copies along with the donor who will make the presentation.  It would be a nice touch to present leather bound copies to each member of the Committee, to former pastors, the District Superintendent, the resident Bishop, and above all, the Annual Conference Historical Society and the General Commission on Archives and History of the denomination (P.O. Box 127, Madison, NJ 07940).

Because of all these persons and institutions involved, the local newspaper might be persuaded to carry a story on how the history came to be written and even include in its report some of the more entertaining portions of the history.  Some local news television programs might also be glad to note the occasion.

Be sure you have enough copies printed for some years to come since this will probably be the only history of the church to be written for another decade or two.  Use the histories for special study groups, in confirmation classes, for new members, and for general publicity purposes.

Your church has a great heritage!  Be proud of it!  Proclaim it!  Above all, use it to glorify the name of Jesus Christ and to advance the ministry and mission of the church.

For additional assistance in writing your history, contact your Annual Conference Commission on Archives and History, or write/email to the General Commission at the addresses below.

Printed copies of this booklet may be purchased from the General Commission. Click here for an order form or you may write for a list of publications sold through GCAH offices.

The United Methodist Church
General Commission on Archives and History
P.O. Box 127, Madison, NJ 07940