Are you a local historian? Do you have an interest in churches, pubs, city centre development or any range of themes? Do you have a collection of photos or postcards that illustrate a city, town, suburb or village through the years, maybe ‘before and after’ pics? Have you visited every pub in the town (purely for research purposes), or have an intimate knowledge of all things ghosts and ghouls?
Then you could write a book on your knowledge.
Local history and social history are very popular and timeless. Books on these subjects prove to be staples of the local interest shelves in any town and city.
Each book needs to be a mix of narrative and photos/illustrations. If narrative heavy, then approx. 60,000 words. Remember that the book will be printed in black and white so colour images are not necessary.
Local newspaper feature writers. There is usually a nostalgia column.
Local history societies
Local writing groups
Tour guides for local attractions
Website contributors (often a website dedicated to a town)
Other social media ‘experts’ with lots of followers.
Postcard and photo collectors
Tourist Information Offices
See the Commissioning page for details on how to submit your idea.
Then and Now
Archive photos next to the same view today. As far as possible, take these from exactly the same spot. There should be a caption explaining the location and the view. What has caused the change and when did it happen? Order the book by location (maybe by suburb) or by general heading (e.g. education, sport, industry, etc.).
The Changing Face of….
Similar to Then and Now, this will show an evolution of a town, maybe four different views of the same spot over the years. Backed up by narrative or captions, the photos will illustrate the reasons for the change.
Images of…/ Remember When / Memory Lane
400 or so archive photos of a town, city etc. Each one will have a short caption of approx. 20 words. Order the book by location (maybe by suburb) or by general heading (e.g. education, sport, industry, etc.).
A narrative of a town’s history
This book could be a narrative only, with very few pictures. It should be approx. 80,000 words and detail the history of the location from as far back as it was first recorded (maybe the Doomsday Book).
A look at a period in time, maybe the 19th century or a monarchy. This could be a narrative or a picture/caption.
A local iconic building / business
Do you have photos showing the history of a business or building? Do you have access to records too? Maybe you could do a narrative on the development of the business? For former workers, this will be a great reminder of what it was like to work there, and for people interested in the industry or firm, then it will be an authentic source of information.
Do you know about a town or city that lies beneath the general façade? Can you locate some hidden gems, whether architectural, historical or just off the beaten track? Maybe you have some knowledge of significant events commemorated around the town / city which need to be aired.
This book could be mainly a narrative but for full effect, photographic accompaniments would be needed to illustrate the narrative.
A popular series is a look at a town or city’s suburbs. It neatly allows the reader to look at their own area of interest. As towns grow, the outlying villages get consumed with urban sprawl, but when did it happen and why? Was it to do with industry, infrastructure or rising population? Offer an opinion of whether it was a good or bad thing if you want, but it is mainly a historical look at the growth of a city made up of its constituent parts.
It needs to be organised by suburb, starting in the centre and moving outwards. Approx. 40,000 words with photos showing the changing landscape.
Heroes, Villains & Victims of…
A popular series which looks at people from your town that have appeared in the press, either in a positive way or in a less than illustrious manner. Featuring 40-50 stories (with photos if possible) of 1000-2000 words, we need to know why they have made the cut. Go back in history. Were they a highwayman, or the first mayor of the city? Did they represent England at rugby, or the last person to be hanged for murder? Make sure though that they have a very direct link to the location.
A specific look at a section of the town’s people
Some of our popular titles are our books on Jewish London and Jewish Manchester. Maybe there is a similar theme in your town. It could be about an industry (miners in Nottinghamshire, car workers in Sunderland or dock workers in Southampton), or it could be about a class of people, or social aspect of a city. Usually a narrative with photos to illustrate it, this book should be 50,000-60,000 words.
Street by Street / Place Names
Do you have the history behind the names? Why is Ipswich’s shopping arcade called the Buttermarket? Why is the Kentish Man different to the Man of Kent? These little gems of a book will have people all over the area turning on the lightbulbs above their heads as they start to understand why things are called what they are. It doesn’t have to be exhaustive, but it does need to be informative and entertaining.
These books just concentrate on how the town/city coped during the war years. Usually focused on WWII due to the photographic accessibility, it is a picture caption book. It could be more of a narrative, but the images seem to have a certain resonance and poignancy. Include pictures of buildings and people.
The Little Book of…/ Miscellany
Full of facts, anecdotes, snippets, funnies, these will have hundreds of little stories, no more than a paragraph each. It could be about anything from weather patterns, local football teams, politicians, historical events and spooky goings on. The only limit is that it must be factual, entertaining and relevant to the town you are writing about. Approx. 60,000 words.