Independent Publisher assisting novice writers with publishing. Genealogy research, writing, and independent publishing. AlanDavesPublishing, PO Box 61071, Virginia Beach, VA 23466.


The musings of an amateur genealogist, novice writer and "small business" publisher.  Learn the ins and outs of genealogy research, writing, and "self-publishing".

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Posted on November 21, 2013 at 8:40 PM Comments comments (391)

I promised to return to the subject of editing when I last wrote.

I want to start with discussing the different types of editing: Proofreading, copyediting, line editing, and developmental editing.

Proofreading: This is the final editing step. It looks for production errors in the text or art so it generally is done with a near-ready publication proof. Something missed by a proofreader will probably end up in the final publication so accuracy is critical.

Copyediting: This is the last step before the proof production. It is focused on formatting, style, and accuracy of text. Copyediting does not normally involve changing the substance of the text. It is about the rules...does the manuscript follow the rules of the appropriate "dialect" of the our case American English.

Line editing: This is about writing including the structuring of sentences and paragraphs, word choice, voice, style, and readability.

Developmental editing: This is telling the story..story structure. It includes re-writing, rearranging, and even adding or deleting material. Developmental editing is sometimes called heavy or content editing. It can include facts checking for a non-fiction book and also ensures that the tone of the book is approrpriate throughout.

I'm often doing developmental or content editing at nearly the same time as writing. Although I realize that this is not a good practice, it is hard to get out of the habit. What is especially important, though, is to ensure that the next 3 process editing processes are broken out and performed separately. This step by step editing gives your book the best shot at being the best it can be. That being said, it is hard to fine anyone who is good at every one of them. Each of the editing steps requires a specific skill set.

A good writer who can view his work critically may be able to do developmental editing. If you can develop the other editing skills, that is great but ensure that you know your own limitations and enlist others, preferably professionals if you can afford them, to complete each step in a structured process. Good luck on your writing projects! Happy New Year!

Writing vs. Editing

Posted on November 17, 2013 at 8:20 PM Comments comments (0)

How many of you find it difficult to separate writing from editing? I realized when I first starting writing that it is very challenging to separate the two processes. Even though I know the advantages of finishing the writing process before starting the editing process, I have to make a concerted effort to do so and still very often fail. Overall, it is the thing that most inhibits my ability to "flow" when writing. The better you can separate the two processes, the more likely you will be successful at both. The best I've been able to achieve is the completion of a section (chapter or even a partial chapter) before I delve into correcting and editing.

WRITING: Most people say that it is best to just start writing. Some people still use pen and paper because to them it allows them to express themselves better. I think, however, that most writers these days use their computers. I'm lucky that I have good typing skills and I'm fast enough that my fingers can mostly keep up with what I am thinking. Another benefit for me is that often my fingers know how to spell something better than I do! For the biography that I am writing, so far there have been several different "types" of writing. I'll discuss them here:

1. Quotes. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I adjusted my original writing plan for the biography to use a lot of the subject's own words from her diary and journals. It provides the real foundation for the entire story. There isn't much writing here but the editing will play a major role later. This is just writing the words that she already wrote. I took the initial approach to put everything in (unless it was too personal) from her journals and her diary. At the editing phase, some of these may be removed if they don't add to the story or the timeline of her life. Another portion of the book is a chapter called "reflections" where I asked friends, family and those around her like teachers to write about her. In general, I took their words and provided some mild editing and put them in a chapter together. These written memories are heart-warming and great expressions of feelings for the subject. I have taken the liberty in a few cases to take quotes from the written reflections and insert them into the chronology as quotes where they tend to give meaning to the story.

2. Research writing. I have a chapter that is basically purely based on research. I wrote it like a typical non-fiction "research" paper. Reading multiple sources, writing and crediting those sources as you would with a thesis. It is difficult, if not impossible, to make this kind of writing griping or exciting but sometimes, as the in the case of this book, it is very important for the reader to know details on the disease that the subject suffered from including the effects, treatments, and long-term impacts of both the disease and the treatments. I tied this in to the chronological story by inserting this chapter right after putting a comment in after her last journal entry before she was diagnosed. With any research type writing, you must be sure not to plagarize. You cannot just re-write the source material...paraphrasing is plagarizing. Read, understand, and write your own version of the credit to the source for the ideas themselves. You cannot be too careful here. I may, before I'm done, move this chapter to an appendix at the end. Right now, I'm not sure I like the flow with it in the middle.

3. Interviews. Besides the use of the subject's diary and journals to tell the story, I'm using interviews to build the story. Some information is based on discussions which I then write into the story. My preference is to record the interview so that I can go back and write with the recording. So far, I've focused my interviews on specific events or timeframes so it is easy for me to transcribe the interview directly into the story. Besides "quoting" this is probably the easiest "type" to separate writing and editing. Generally, I try to write almost everything that I get from the interview and plan to make it better in the editing phase. Again, the better notes you take or the use of a recorder makes this process much smoother.

4. Writing "from scratch or memory". With personal knowledge of portions of the subject's life, I am able to tell the story...writing with aid of interviews or research. For the last 3 1/2 years of her life, I have a good foundation from which to build - her journals and diary. I was also a large part of her life during the summer before she died and part of it for over 4 years. In this section, I've been able to expand and tie her journal and diary entries together and "fill in the blanks" in her story. This is where it gets more difficult to truly separate writing from editing. It is too easy, at least for me, to writing a few sentences and then go back and read them and start editing. Some authors purposefully "define" writing sessions and editing sessions so that the two are completely separate. I'm not skilled enough to do that. I write as much as I can and then start editing. Maybe it is because I am so critical of my own writing or maybe it is just attention deficit...I don't know. I do know that there are very few portions of the book that I have written so far that haven't been changed several times.

So I'm going to sign off here and continue the discussion on editing later. Enjoy your week!  ~Alan

Non-fiction Writing - Approaching a Biography

Posted on October 12, 2013 at 10:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Non-fiction writing is much different than fiction writing. I won't proclaim to be an expert at non-fiction but it is the only genre that I have experience in so I can at least share that experience. For me, the differences between non-fiction and fiction writing drive the entire writing process.

In general, research is crucial to non-fiction writing. In writing my genealogy books, research was everything. Gathering and compiling the facts behind the family trees that are the heart of genealogy really was 80% of the effort involved. With the use of software, the "writing" of the family tree text is more cleaning up and formatting the output of the software than it is really writing. Certainly, that was the case for the majority of Volume I of "The Descendants of Edmond Reaves".

Although Volume II used the research and the facts, it did involve more writing as I tried to tell the story of my ancestors. For me, writing Volume II - "The Ancestors and Descendants of William Clemens Reeves" was really about family and learning more about mine. Learning about how my ancestors were pioneers in Alabama and in Hokes Bluff was exciting and made me proud. Searching the woods and finding the remains of the cemetery where my great great great great grandfather Nathan Reaves was buried was an adventure. Overall, I tried to tell a story in Volume II. In the end, I hope I succeeded in telling a story that at least meant something to those who share my ancestry.

Writing a biography, especially of someone that I knew well, is more of a challenge than writing what was essentially a genealogy text. For one thing, it can't be just facts. Any biography is meant to tell the story of the person and, if it isn't interesting, no one will read it. I think that my writing for genealogy Volume II did help prepare me to write a biography but even determining the flow of the book is an evolving process.

Most of my genealogy research was reading books, researching files, scouring and other websites, and generally, "fact-finding". Researching the biography of a contemporary person involves a lot more than just reading, researching and reviewing websites. In some ways, it is easier - there are a lot of people who still remember the person. In other ways, it is harder - the book has to be very true to the person because people do remember. Researching a contemporary person involves personal interviews - capturing people's memories and reflections of the person, internet and library research, reading the person's own writing, and gathering photographs, drawings, journals, etc.

There are many different approaches to writing. Some writers complete the majority of the research before even starting to write. Truman Capote, probably the most prolific and well-known of non-fiction writers, wrote the majority of "In Cold Blood" only after he did most of the research. Of course, he did write the majority of the book before he had "the ending" but he really didn't know how the book was going to lay out or flow until he had gathered most of his facts.

My process in writing the biography was to lay-out or outine the book and then start gathering the detailed facts. So far, as I've gathered information, done interviews, and read material, I've done some clarifying of my outline but not really changed it. What I have done now, though, is re-vamp how I was telling the story.

I've never claimed to be a great writer. I am good with writing mechanics and I generally can work at something until it says what I want it to say. Since I'm not a great writer, anything I can do without using my own writing will probably improve the book. After starting the research and talking to people, I changed how I was going to use those interviews. I'm now using other people's writing and words to the maximum extent possible. Embedding the subject's words throughout the book was a huge shift in the overall plan and has greatly improved the overall book. Additionally, pulling in quotes from friends and family throughout the book is adding more meaning to the entire book. This concept has completely changed the process of writing the book and I think will ultimately make it much better.

I am far from completing this writing effort and I do not yet know if my current plan will stand; however, the lesson I wanted to convey to anyone considering non-fiction writing is to be flexible about your overall writing plan. The evolution of my plan has significantly improved the book to this point. If you are unwilling to be flexible, you may miss opportunities. More on this and other efforts to come. ~Alan

Ongoing projects of AlanDavesPublishing

Posted on October 5, 2013 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Happy Saturday everyone! I just wanted to take a chance to talk about where AlanDavesPublishing is currently headed.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have a couple of projects on-going that are the focus my "free" time. "Daves in America" is full of wonderful information on the genealogy of the Daves surname - focusing on all the known lines of Daves ancestors and is written based on 50 years of research by Doyle Daves. Anyone who has researched their Daves genealogy is probably aware of Doyle and his work. His is THE recognized expert on Daves genealogy on forums and chat boards. He offered his book to family and friends but after I received a copy of the book, I knew that I could add value to his wonderful research. I have since reformatted the book, improved the overall look of the chapters, provided editing and designed a cover. The only thing left to complete to publish the book is to complete the index. As I found out in my own book, indexing requires a LOT of work and, unfortunately, with my re-formatting of the book, the index has to be completely reworked. It is slow work and as soon as I am done, I WILL make the book available.

My other project is the biography of Hokes Bluff native Paige Foster. For most of you who attended Hokes Bluff High School, you are probably already familiar with Paige. Paige was a member of the Hokes Bluff Class of 1987 who died November 5th, 1986 during her senior year. Paige was diagnosed with leukemia in May 1984 and although the leukemia ultimately claimed her life, she made such a difference in so many lives during her short time on earth. I was lucky to have been close to Paige and her family and am honored to have the opportunity to write this biography. I say write but in reality much of Paige's story in the biography is told in Paige's own words or in the words of her family and friends. This is not a short-term project and I do not expect to be complete with it until sometime next year; however, I believe it will be an inspiring, emotional read for anyone, especially those of us who knew and loved Paige. I thank those of you who have contributed stories or "reflections" of Paige and I hope those of you who knew her and have not provided your insights would consider it. If so, please contact me.


Status of AlanDavesPublishing

Posted on July 31, 2013 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

I have not been posting new entries to this blog in a while and I wanted to catch people up. As you may have noticed I transitioned the website to a new domain It is cleaned up and a little sleeker.

I have been working on a couple of projects. As you probably know, I assisted Jill Braddy Boatwright with publishing her book "The History of Hokes Bluff and Surrounding Area" which was a big success in the local community. The book featured many pictures, family histories, and oral histories/interviews. Her school class assisted in the efforts to publish the book and much of the community provided input. If you haven't gotten your copy yet and you're from Hokes Bluff, check out the prices either at Amazon or on this website on the homepage.

I'm also assisting fellow novice genealogist Doyle Daves with publishing his book "Daves in America". Doyle has printed copies of his book and provided to select family members but did not have an avenue to provide it to mass markets and those who were beyond his immediate reach. Expect the book to be available in the next couple of months.

I found a new printing source to allow me to print hardbacks cost effectively. In the past, the hardbacks I provided were very expensive and generally were only available in B&W due to the expense. For example, the hardback version of "The History of Hokes Bluff" was more than twice the price of the softcover with a very small margin above cost. The new source should now make hardbacks and even color hardbacks reasonable and competitive with those purchased in brick and mortar stores. Look for more updates on this in the next few months.

Finally, I am writing a biography of Paige Foster, a Hokes Bluff native who died at 17 from leukemia. Her life and her handling of her diagnosis, treatment, and relapse is an inspiration to many who knew her. The book will tell the story of her life, how she dealt with leukemia, and provide reflections of Paige from her family and friends. More to follow on the progress on this book! Until next time ~Alan

Boatwright and Millander's History of Hokes Bluff

Posted on August 17, 2012 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

A few years ago, Jill Boatwright and Steve Millander published The History of Hokes Bluff and Surrounding Area. Many enjoyed the book and others have wanted to to read it but have not had the opportunity since it was no longer available. Jill and Steve have agreed to publish a second updated edition of the book! I'll be assisting on the publishing end, capitalizing on the experience I gained publishing my two genealogy books.

I'll keep everyone updated as the project proceeds. I've created a website that will have more information as it becomes available -

Jill and Steve would appreciate any input you may have to update the book. Please go the website and follow the link to pass information.


Posted on July 4, 2012 at 2:40 PM Comments comments (0)

I hope all are enjoying our 4th of July holiday. I wanted to take a few minutes to write a few lines since I haven't been blogging much recently.

If you haven't heard, the 1940 census records are now available at and other places. They are still working to make the records searchable on many websites but if you know the area of interest, the records can be searched manually. These records may provide a valuable link to confirming children of a early 20th century ancestor. If you have any questions about how to use the records, use the contact us button or comment on this blog entry and I will get back to you.

If you haven't gotten copies of the books, now is the time. You can use the webstore tab on to order the books, amazon, or use the following links

As I've previously mentioned, I also did a hard copy of Volume II which, although expensive, is available at the following link:;jsessionid=991CBE3D135073D5E4B30DBE187035F8

Don't forget to get with me on any updates to our family history. It's a vital part of continuing an accurate record for future generations. Births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and even retirements are important events.   ~Alan  :)

Let's keep our family tree current!

Posted on March 17, 2012 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (1)

Hello everyone!

 I haven't blogged in a while as things have been very busy. As many of you know, I retired from the Navy and started a civilian career. Along with making a few trips to Alabama, the transition has kept me very busy. I haven't done much on genealogy recently. I hope in the next few months to get back into some of it.

 There are a couple of things I want to do - update the register report that is in volume I with the latest information and work on the "rest of the family" of Edmond Reaves. The first won't be too hard but will have to be re-done once the second is complete as well. At best, I may get the first one done this year.

 While I may not be actively engaged in writing or researching, I want to maintain all of the information in our family tree current on To that end, please let me know when all of the important events occur. Births, deaths, and marriages are key pieces of information that I can enter and into the tree. Remember, that the tree remains private and only accessible to those that have joined the website. I have to approve all members and I ALWAYS very that it is family only. Go to to join or visit the family tree. If you have information to change, update or add, you can add a comment to the tree via the website and or you can send me a note on this website,, or email to

 I do try to catch things via facebook, etc. but am not always able to see it or get the specifics. I will continue to pay for this website to allow all of you to access the private tree on just ask that you each provide me the information I need to keep the tree current.  THANKS!!!!

 A couple of notes: I think Fran Reeves is still working on tryint to organize a family reunion. More info will go out as things firm up. Also, for those of you who do genealogy research, remember that next month the 1940 census is released. Don't expect it to be on right away. Translation and transcription into electronic media will take some time. Of course, you can access it via the region National Archives sites such as the one in Atlanta - check out for more information. I continue to look for feedback on the books that are published. Not only am I interested in an overall opinion of the books but am extremely interested in correcting mistakes or adding in missing information. Your feedback is extremely important to help me in doing that. Please take a moment and fill out a survey at:




Posted on January 20, 2012 at 8:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Hope everyone is having a Happy New Year! I've made Volume II available as a hardback. It's not really any different than the paperback but it is a hard-cover version. It is expensive, even though I put it at the lowest price I could. If you want it as a special keepsake you can get it at:

It is about $55. There is a promo code you can use until January 31 for 25% off - LULUBOOK305. I'm just proviing this as a service to you without any pressure (I don't really make anything on these).

Enjoy your weekend!


Posted on December 20, 2011 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Thank you so much to everyone who has purchased books. It has been a good year getting the two books done and available for people to enjoy. I hope those of you who did purchase books have enjoyed them. 

As the new year approaches, I am shifting focus to researching the extended family of Nathan and Edmond Reaves beyond the descendants of William Clemens Reeves. What that will lead to as far as books, is still to be seen but for now, I will improve the family tree and look to update Volume I in the future.

I do ask that if anyone has corrections to Volume I and II, please let me know via this website or our FB page or the family tree site. I can update the books and correct mistakes. Also, if anyone has photographs that did not get included please continue to send them to me, I will look at updating Volume II or providing a supplement with more photographs if I get enough. There are certainly families that did not get represented.

In this holiday season, I also want to wish each and everyone of you a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and all the blessings of the season!          

~Alan      :|