How to preserve and present your stories
If you have written a book or a series of short stories you are probably ready to start thinking about how to preserve and present your stories (for example, a traditional hardback or paperback, an eBook, a flip book or less expensive options such as a simple comb-bound/spiral-bound or stapled booklet).
If you have collections of photos, audios (such as recorded interviews) or videos that you want to share, you could also consider other options such as an oral history (audio version), a visual history (a collection of photos on CD/DVD/video) or a website or blog.
There are a number of options for producing a small number of books. You could produce a hardback or paperback book using the services of a professional designer/binder/printer or you could go for a cheaper option such as a print-on-demand service where typically you provide a fully-formatted version in an appropriate file format. An even cheaper option is to print your own copies at home and then get them comb-bound/spiral-bound or stapled.
Unless you are a celebrity or well-known author it is unlikely a publisher will be interested in publishing your work but it is possible to publish your own book. Self publishing is increasingly more accessible and affordable and if you choose a reputable self-publishing company not only do you typically retain 100% copyright and decide which book shops to target, you also get to keep a higher percentage (or even all) of the profits from your book sales.
If you want a low-cost (or even free) alternative to hardcopy printing/publishing, you could create an eBook (a book saved in an electronic format such as a PDF file which can be read on a computer, smartphone, a tablet, eBook reader etc.).
A flip book is similar to an eBook except the reader can flip (or turn) the pages. There is a variety of software which enables you to convert PDF files, image files or SWF (Adobe Flash) files quickly and easily into digital flip publications. Most flip book software providers offer a free trial but once the trial is over you will have to buy the software/license. Prices vary considerably so check first. Alternatively you could try out free software such Free PDF to Flip Book or Flip Book Online.
A very cost-effective way of preserving your story is on a CD or DVD. A CD can include a complete story and photos plus multi-media files such as audio and video files and you can create and distribute copies very cheaply. Make sure that what you put on your CD can be read, viewed, listened to or printed without the need for specialist software. If a CD is not big enough (images and multi media files can take up a lot of space), use a DVD instead – it has a far greater capacity.
An oral history is typically a verbatim transcription of an interview. You can use a basic digital voice recorder or the audio feature on your mobile phone to record your interviews. However, to create a polished, professional recording, aim to use the best equipment you can borrow or afford to buy. Most recording devices make it very easy to transfer recordings onto a computer which could then also be transcribed into text.
It is great fun to create a video which includes interviews, music, film clips, still images, voice overs, transitions between clips, titles, credits etc. to tell your story. You can use a simple camcorder or smartphone and then use the basic editing software which comes with most computers. If you don’t think you have the skills to produce your own video look for a professional to do the job for you (this is quite an expensive option).
Website or blog
If you prefer to preserve your story online then you could publish your story on your own website or you could create your own blog.
There are a number of website builders which allow you to set up a blog and/or a personal website completely free of charge. Do a web search to find what is available and what would be most suitable for your needs. Also check out my blog Choosing a blog platform.