Thursday, November 30, 2023

Book Review: "Leaving a Legacy, Turn Your Family Tree Into a Family Book" by Rebecca Shamblin

 Leaving a Legacy, Turn Your Family Tree Into a Family Book is an excellent how-to book for creating a genealogy or family history book using Family Tree Maker 2019 (desktop genealogy software from MacKiev), Family Book Creator (an FTM plug-in program by Stefan Harms), a modern word processor, and an online book publisher.

Rebecca Shamblin explains:

“Creating family history books is the culmination of over twenty years of genealogical research for me. I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to hold a physical book in your hands, safely guarding your hard work for generations to come. Computer hardware and software evolve, and we have all experienced the heartbreak of a corrupt file or a mysterious error holding our data hostage. Modern technology is essential for research, but good old-fashioned paper and ink is just as critical. We need that physical legacy.

“However, taking years of research and trying to turn it into a cohesive narrative is no simple task. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and put it off until next year, especially if you feel the burden of ancestral honor, and want to do “right” by your family.”

In this book, she describes the complex process to weave a family tree created in Family Tree Maker 2019 software (with names, relationships, dates, places, events, notes, source citations, and photographs for thousands of historical persons) with the Family Book Creator plug-in, a modern word processor (she used Microsoft Word for the examples), and an online book publisher (she used Rebecca discusses many best practices for the many steps in the process to come up with a well-researched and lovingly presented family history book as a result of genealogy research.

The chapters in the book describe:

  • Introduction: Summary of the Process, Helpful Tools, Barriers to Success

  • Phase 1 – Planning: Book Structure, Genealogy Software, Choosing a Printing Solution, Word Processor Settings

  • Phase 2 -- Research: Research Tips, What to Include In Your Book

  • Phase 3 – Writing: Using Family Book Creator, Chapter Structure, Writing Biographies, Sources, Working With Images, Indexes (Word/FBC), Layout Tips (Word), Create the Extras

  • Phase 4 – Printing: Final Review, Exporting for Print, Settings, Add a Cover (Lulu), Preview Your Book, Proofs & Revisions.

  • Phase 5 – Distribution: Giving Away Copies, Selling Copies, Conclusion

  • Supplements

The “Documents” section in the “Phase 2: Research” chapter provides an excellent list, and examples, of the genealogy records that you can find and incorporate into your family history book.

In the “Phase 3: Writing” chapter, Rebecca describes how to use Family Book Creator to build the parts of your book using the information you have gathered. There are tips to create the book organization, a family description, items to include, using family charts, formatting, source citations, and notes. The user has many options to consider when using Family Book Creator, including a Foreword, Colophon, Dedication, Table of Contents, and Indexes. Rebecca shares her preference for document creation, source citations, name formats, report style and format, notes, images, fonts, page layout, headers and footers, and more.

As with any genealogy or family history book, you will have to do all of the work – researching your families, obtaining family stories and photographs, inputting information into Family Tree Maker 2019 in the recommended fields, learning how to use Family Book Creator, being consistent in included information, and making the final product in a word processor into a readable and presentable creation. Only then, can you publish a book from a PDF format to an online publisher or to an eBook publisher like Lulu.

The “Phase 4: Printing” chapter describes the process of turning your manuscript into a published book. Rebecca explains PDF settings, settings, book designs, color pages, paper type, book binding, and covers. This chapter also covers previewing your book, proofs and revisions, proofreading, and revisions after the book is published.

In the “Phase 5: Distribution” chapter, she covers giving away copies (in paper or in PDF), distributing your book to archives, selling your books, and pricing considerations.

All in all, this is one of the very best and organized way to write and publish a family history book. Rebecca Shamblin has done all the heavy work of actually creating the book in a skillful and complete way. It isn’t an easy “just press this button” task, but if you want to publish this type of book, then this is a fantastic guide.  I always say "listen to the voice of experience when you tackle a difficult task."

  • Copyright © 2023 by Rebecca Shamblin All Rights Reserved.
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Life Remembered Press (October 28, 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 266 pages
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8989322800
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 1 year and up
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 11.1 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches

The book is available on Amazon ( at for $27.99 at the time of this writing (29 November 2023).

Disclosure: I was provided a PDF copy of this book for the purposes of the review. I have used Family Tree Maker software for decades, and have experimented with earlier versions of Family Book Creator.  My thanks to Rebecca Shamblin for writing about and sharing her experience with a difficult task.


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1 comment:

Rebecca Shamblin, Author/Speaker said...

Thank you so much for your kind words! I am so glad you found the book helpful.