Wednesday, September 03, 2008

"A Long Way Downstream" Has Arrived

In July, I picked up the fruit of my labors at Gorham Printing in Centralia, Washington--a short-run printer of the finest calliber. The photographs below are proof: the Johnson/Winje family history is done, at last! My somewhat reserved, 88-year-old, Norwegian-American mother just finished reading A Long Way Downstream and gave me the ultimate compliment: "It's just like a real book." If she noticed that I had written about some tidbits she previously asked me not to, she was diplomatic enough not to bring up the subject. Somehow, it all squeaked by, uncensored!

A Long Way Downstream: The Life and Family of Thibertine Johnson Winje, Norwegian-American Pioneer

by Chery Kinnick

Self-published, 2008. Hardbound in blue imitation leather with silver foil cover text; 350 pages; documents; photographs (black & white and color); translations; maps; genealogy charts; appendices; bibliography; extensive endnotes.

Whew; I can hardly believe it. All those hours at the computer are just a fond memory now...

Why did I choose a short-run printer? Due to the nature of the book, I did not plan on sales through booksellers. It made sense to keep production to a minimum and go with pre-orders from relatives and interested parties. A short-run printer is perfect for this sort of thing, and don't feel that you have to go specifically with genealogy printers. Another reason for short-run printing is that it is difficult to make money on this kind of endeavor. When you add together the cost of your time with resources and training, well, trust me... you should write a family history for the love of it, unless you can somehow find a way to make it commercially viable. There are ways to do that, but it's not what I had in mind for this project.

I did not arrange for an ISBN (International Standard Book Number)--used primarily for pricing--because the book was not planned for public sale. But, I did secure a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN), so that libraries could readily obtain cataloging information. This was the most important thing, because I planned on sending copies to various libraries and historical societies in locations. Two copies have been sent to the Library of Congress: one for the LCCN program, and one for copyright. Then, how could I not also give a copy to the lady in Norway (Astri Wessel) who shared letters my ancestors wrote her ancestors during the 19th century? And, ja sure, you bet I also sent a copy to my main translator, Ed Egerdahl of the Scandinavian Language Institute here in Seattle. He spent plenty of hours struggling over that old handwriting and dialect, and deserved much more than I could pay him. Ed, I hope the credit and fame makes some amends...

Image of lead photograph and first contents page

My relatives and local writing buddies (footnoteMaven is high on the list) I cannot thank enough. I found that I am entirely rich in friends and cousins, and especially, helpful friends and cousins. I hope A Long Way Downstream meets their expectations and gets at least a few people interested in doing their own family research. The more, the merrier.

Chapter Six: "Ole Martin Johnson," and washout photograph of homestead barn on facing page

For those who are curious, in a future post I will share the Preface, which is an informal look at the community effort it took to create such a book.

Now, it's on to the next writing project, which is not related to my family history, but, it is someone's family history, after all. My project for the Nearby History seminar this autumn will involve continuing research and writing on the life of a Pacific Northwest explorer and nature photographer.


  1. Congratulations, Chery! That's quite an accomplishment. I'm sure your family and friends will appreciate it. Lots of hard work too, and I speak from experience on that point! But definitely well worth the time and effort.

  2. Chery,

    That's great! Congratulations!


  3. MG and all:

    I am very privileged to own a copy of this wonderful family history.

    And yes, it reads just like a real book. A work of creative non-fiction.

    Chery has written such a wonderful tribute to her family and their history. I loved every page.

    It is so professionally done.

    Congratulations MG!


  4. Congratulations on the book! :D It looks wonderful and you should be so proud :)

  5. Thanks, Everybody! As I mentioned to some close friends, I hesitate to read it through in published form for fear I'll find typos and other errors. Inevitable, I guess.

  6. Congratulations, Chery! Your book looks just lovely and I'm sure it's quality through and through. What a sense of accomplishment you must have at seeing your project come to fruition. I envy you. Your family history is complete and I've yet to start mine. But I'm getting lots of new information that was worth waiting for :-)

  7. Hi Jasia,

    One thing about genealogy: it's addictive! I many have finished a history for one branch of the family, but there are at least a few more. All of us know that feeling... Good luck with your writing ventures!