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So You Want to Write History? Part 2

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history-writing-part1The following is a continuation of the principles and lessons from the experience of Eric J Wittenberg, prolific Civil War historian. See part 1 here.

Here are the last three installments in his series. Although the following provides summaries and highlights, each article is worth reading entirely.

Everyone Needs an Editor. Yes, Even You.” In this article, Wittenberg stresses that everyone needs an editor, a real editor. Someone who tells you that you work is good and nothing else is worthless. Instead, you want an editor that will give you feedback to make your work better. As such, authors should seek out good editors and take their criticism and suggestions seriously. Quite simply, the editor “can make or break your book.”

Your Book Will Cost You More Than You Expect, So Plan for It.” Wittenberg reveals some of the many hidden costs in the publications of books, which often falls onto the author. These include, but are not limited to building an index, creating maps, and drawing illustrations. The cost for a single map can range from $50 to $200. Illustrations will of course cost you when someone owns the rights, or even claims to own the rights.

The Process of Researching Your Book Will Cost Much More Than You Expect, So Plan Accordingly.” In the final installment of his series, Wittenberg reveals, “Typically, I spend more on doing the research for my books than I ever make in royalties.” The costs add up, as he spends money on books, traveling, and even employing people to track down sources for him in distant archives.

That concludes Wittenberg’s candid series on writing and publishing history. Any aspiring historian should learn from a man who has already had the experience.

By Scott Manning
Online Learning Tips, Student Contributor

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