This is an overview of things to consider as you decide whether your organization is dedicated to and prepared for producing a book about your organization.

Our Optimist Club produced a book that was completed in July 2018. Stories were contributed by members and guest speakers along with a personal photo of each author. We anticipated publishing about 25 stories that would result in a book of approximately 120 pages. We ended up producing a 290-page book that contains 69 stories.

Several factors contributed to the growth of the project:

– The president of our club called people almost relentlessly to ask them to contribute a story.

– We promoted the project through announcements and handouts at every meeting, through fairly regular emails, and by talking among ourselves about the book.

– We extended the schedule by two months, from six months to eight months, and even that seemed like a rush.

Producing a book is a satisfying activity that requires vigorous enthusiasm as well as a commitment by all participants to complete the project. That description euphemistically describes a project that is a lot of work. I recommend writing responses to the questions posed below. Your vision now could be just the inspiration you need to remind yourselves of the value of the project when it becomes tiring or discouraging.

Plan to produce both printed and eBook versions of your book. Currently, readers are evenly split between their preference for these two styles.

I strongly suggest that you ask for a “registration” fee from each contributor for which they will receive one copy of the book. Also, take pre-orders—for single copies and quantities—at a discounted price, to create excitement and to collect money for paying for printing.

Start by asking these questions:
Who, what when, where, why, and how, although their order is arranged sequentially as they relate to producing a book.


Produce a book of stories by members of your organization, written for the benefit your organization.

What will the stories be about? Describe clearly-but-briefly the information you seek and the reason people will want to share their story.

In addition to stories, will visual elements such as photographs or illustrations be part of your book? Visuals add greatly to the readability, personality, and interest of your book.


Why are you dedicated to producing a book by and for your organization?
What are your goals for the book? (Some of your goals may be to promote your organization; create recognition for your organization and its people; raise money through book sales; build teamwork among contributors, patrons, staff, supporters, volunteers, beneficiaries, and others; and other goals.)

Who will be on the team to produce your book?

Here are some suggestions that describe the activities and responsibilities related to producing a book:

– Coordinator/leader

– Coach who asks for and tracks contributions of stories, graphics, financial donations, time, etc.

– Editor who establishes a style sheet for creating consistency and edits all submissions

– Editorial assistant who sends edited text to contributors for their revisions or approval

– Designer who creates the design of the book, does the layout, and coordinates with the printer
– Design assistant who asks for photos or other images, checks quality, and follows up

– Design coordinator who sends proofs for approval, then tracks revisions and approval

– Marketing/sales team that puts together a plan for in-person sales on site, at meetings and events, and elsewhere; traditional methods such as press releases, newsletter articles, paid advertising, printed materials such as bookmarks, flyers, postcards, etc.; and digital marketing through the organization’s website, an eNewsletter, social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook, and other methods.

– Distribution team that stores the books and records and fulfills orders (including packaging and shipping), and collects money


Put together a schedule that includes realistic amounts of time for:

– Promoting the idea of the book and building enthusiasm for the project

– Receiving information and processing it

– Keeping people informed about the progress being made (this also serves as a form of marketing)

– Following up with people who don’t contribute at all or don’t respond to proofs

– Scheduling the book release and other book-related events


Where will the book team meet, if at all?

Where will the book be printed? Locally (in the Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN area) at or through a POD (print-on-demand) online printer, or both?


How will things get done—and by when and what methods?

How will the team communicate? By email, paper proofs, Google Drive, other?
Will a spreadsheet be available to all team members to track progress?

How will expenses be covered? Expenses may include editing, design, paper proofs, the cost of ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers), printing, delivery, taxes, mailing materials, etc.

Yes, producing a book is a large, time-consuming, details-laden project. It is also a project during which team members build satisfying relationships, members feel pride about their contribution to the organization, and the organization has a tangible, timeless product to represent it among stakeholders, in its community, and online.

Sue Filbin suggested the project, and coordinated, edited, and designed the book Voices of Optimism

If you are interested in producing a book for your club, please complete the following form:

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