So you want to publish a book?

As a prospective author you probably find yourself in one of several situations: 1) you have a desire to write a book, but don’t know just what to write about or how to go about it; 2) you have a specific topic in mind, and may have done some work on it, but have not yet completed it; 3) you have finished compiling a book and are looking for a publisher, or 4) you published a book in the past that is now out of print, and you are looking for a publisher to reprint it. In any case, this packet of information will help you decide how to proceed with Heritage Books, Inc.

There are three essential requirements you need to keep in mind to be successful: 1) pick a topic for which there is a significant market, 2) pick a publisher who can effectively reach that market, and 3) start working with that publisher as early in the process as possible in order to maximize the success of your book.


We wish you success in your efforts to become a published author and will do all we can to help you bring your project to fruition. Please contact us with specific questions by letter, telephone, or e-mail.

Heritage Books, Inc.
Publications Division
5810 Ruatan St.
Berwyn Heights, MD 20740

1-800-876-6103 ext 2


Heritage Books, Inc. is one of the leading publishers of books on local history and genealogy in the United States. We publish 20-25 new titles each month; some are completely new compilations, while others are historical reprints — often with added name indexes or other improvements. Our publications are predominantly paperbound editions in 5.5" x 8.5", 6" x 9", or 8.5" x 11" formats, but we also do some books in cloth bindings. Our books are printed on pH neutral paper with multi-color, plastic film laminated covers. We favor the 5.5" x 8.5" size because it fits bookshelves better, is less subject to damage in the mail, and is usually less expensive to produce. However, the larger format is sometimes necessary to accommodate charts, maps, group photographs, etc. We concentrate on paper bound editions, we can produce them in shorter print runs which makes it possible for us to publish, and keep in print, books which it would be impractical to publish in cloth bindings.

The primary audiences for our publications are professional and amateur historians and genealogists, and the institutions that serve those groups, such as libraries, historical and genealogical societies, and bookstores. We reach that market through our catalog and online bookstore ( Our websites on the Internet also permit us to reach a broad audience, both within the United States and internationally. We also work with Amazon and a network of web affiliates to maximize our exposure on the World Wide Web. In addition, our authors are encouraged to participate in the marketing of their books via special flyers, radio talk shows, book signings, etc., and should discuss their ideas with our marketer as early as possible.


The subject matter of interest to us is naturally determined by the market we serve. In general terms, we are interested in materials on American history, local history, and genealogy, including non-fiction narrative works and compilations of source records from the earliest time period down into the early 20th century. Since the market for genealogical materials tends to increase geometrically as one moves back in time, the earlier the time period the better when dealing with genealogical content. We have a limited market for genealogical material pertaining to the period after the Civil War, and rarely publish genealogical material pertaining primarily to the 20th century. Historical material, on the other hand, is not as sensitive to time constraints, and we publish some such materials dealing with the time period down to the middle of the 20th century.

Among possible genealogical topics, early source records tend to be best, followed by genealogical compilations covering many early settlers in a given area, single surname genealogies, multiple surname genealogies, and lineages, in that order. A biography of a single person would have poor prospects in most cases unless the person was one of some historical significance. When it comes to historical and genealogical source record compilations, the availability of the source is a key factor. For example, early newspaper abstracts are in much more demand than census records because the latter are readily available online and easily searched in comparison with newspapers.


Please consider your situation in the light of the four general cases discussed above and respond accordingly:

Case 1 - If you do not have any definite plans as to what you want to write about, please write to us expressing your interest and describing your experience and training. We will work with you to help you select a topic of interest to you which is also one we feel we could effectively publish and market.

Case 2 - If you have a specific topic in mind, but have not finished the work, please send us an outline, sample chapters, table of contents, and any introductory material you may have. Please describe your plans for completing the book, so we may have a clear idea of the finished product. Your estimates of the final size of the work and its potential market should also be included, as well as your resume of experience and training relating to the subject matter. We will respond with our evaluation of your project.

Case 3 - If you have completed an early draft of the whole work, please respond as per Case 2 above. If we like your proposal, we will respond with a request to see a final draft.

Case 4 - If you have published a book that is now out of print, and which you think we should reprint, please send us a copy of the book and a synopsis of its printing history.


If you have any questions regarding your submission, please call our Editorial Director at 1-800-876-6103 ext 2. Otherwise, send your submission to Editorial Director, Heritage Books, Inc., Publishing Division, 5810 Ruatan St., Berwyn Heights, MD 20740. You can also reach us by e-mail at In any case, do not send us originals of text, photographs, or artwork unless we specifically request them — send only copies. If you want any of the materials returned to you, please be sure to enclose a self-addressed mailer with sufficient return postage. We attempt to respond promptly to all submissions. If you have not heard from us within sixty days, please contact us.


Naturally, we would like to accept all the book proposals that we receive, but that is not feasible, and it is not in the author’s best interest for us to accept books that we cannot effectively market. However, it is our policy to accept, in some way, proposals which meet our standards regarding content, and where we can justify at least a minimum acceptable print run.

All acceptances are, of course, tentative until a publishing agreement has been signed. Our response to your specific submission will take one of the following forms:

Rejection - We must reject outright some proposals we receive simply because they are clearly outside the range of subject matter or time frame that we can effectively market. We do not offer any editorial critique on rejected proposals. However, we can offer assistance if you are interested in self-publishing the work.

Guarantee Acceptance - Book proposals that are narrow in scope and have a limited market we accept on a guaranteed sales basis when possible. The usual conditions are: a) that the author provides an acceptable camera-ready copy for the book, and b) that the author guarantees to purchase a predetermined number of copies of the work on a non-royalty basis.

Conditional Acceptance - We will tentatively accept a proposal when we feel certain that we can effectively market the book, but the book is not yet completed. A final evaluation by our selection committee is made after the work is finished.

Outright Acceptance - If your book is complete and acceptable to us, then we will send you a publishing agreement for your immediate signature.


Once your proposal has been accepted you will need to provide us with a copy of your book in one of two forms depending on your facilities and the terms of our agreement: 1) a camera-ready copy (hard copy or electronic copy); or 2) in the form of an existing book in the case of a reprint.

Camera-Ready Copy - Camera-ready copy is a copy that is completely finished and ready for the printer (we usually typeset the title page, copyright page, and the cover, unless you would like to do these also). Since this can be a complex process, it is essential that we see and approve the format you plan to use before you do the final formatting of your book. After we look at your sample pages, we can decide on a layout that will be most suitable for your book, and we will give you the specific instructions for arranging the text. We request an electronic copy of the manuscript. If we are not able to use the electronic copy we will request a paper copy.

Page Size and Appearance - If sending a paper copy of the manuscript, the text should be printed on one side only of white, 8.5"x11" ordinary bond paper. It is important that all pages are aligned within the same margins and that the ink coverage is uniform on all pages throughout the book.

Page Numbering - Each page should be appropriately numbered. All of the front matter (table of contents, dedication, preface, introduction etc.) should be numbered with lowercase Roman numerals; the remainder of the book should be numbered with Arabic numerals. Each new section should begin on an odd-numbered page; blank pages must be inserted when necessary to accomplish this. Each blank page is counted as if it were a regular numbered page. See The Chicago Manual of Style for sample page numbering and other editorial details.

Number of Pages - The maximum number of pages per book is 640; however, we recommend that you actually have no more than 500 pages per volume. A book larger than 640 pages may be split into two volumes for convenience and economy.

Existing Book - If we are going to reprint your existing book, you will need to provide us with a clean copy of the book to use in the process. We may re-typeset the title and copyright pages, and possibly add an errata page or new index, but the bulk of the book will be a facsimile reprint of the book you provide - possibly with some reduction or enlargement to accommodate our basic page sizes. The book you provide will be completely taken apart in order for us to reprint it, and it is not possible to rebind it. It is only useful for possible later reprinting and is retained by us for that purpose.

Cover Design - Normally, we design the covers for the books we publish. You are welcome to provide your own artwork for the cover and/or the interior. We can use your artwork and typeset the copy for the front and back covers and the spine, or you may provide us with the camera-ready cover, with the copy typeset around your artwork.


We print the copyright notice on the back of the title page along with other publishing data. We do not register the copyright with the Library of Congress, but we do send them two copies of each book, which is required by law. If you wish to register the copyright, you may obtain information about the law, registration form, and fee from the Register of Copyrights, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20559.