Writing a Local History: A Lucrative Niche Market for Freelance Writers

Does your city or town have a history rich in culture and interesting events? If so, you could enter a lucrative niche market for freelance writers in writing a local history. Often, local histories are chronicled not in one book or booklet, but in hundreds of articles spread out over dozens of publications. It can be difficult to find all of this information even if you are looking for it, so writing a local history can be helpful to members of your community.

If you don’t enjoy history or if you find this subject boring, you might change your mind when you begin to delve into the history of your own city or town. Many places have secrets that are only uncovered after endless hours of research while others seem boring on the surface and become more interesting with each person you interview. Writing a local history is about connecting with the people who helped to grow a town and make it prosper.

Who buys local histories?

There are two basic audiences when you write a local history: Tourists amp; Locals. In most cases, you can’t combine the two into one volume because different facts will interest each. For example, local citizens might be interested in the histories of the buildings in the town or the first people to settle it. Tourists, on the other hand, will want to know the history of tourist attractions, such as museums and theme parks.

Who publishes local histories?

Some people prefer to self-publish local histories while others look for a publisher. I have a friend who travels constantly and writes local histories exclusively, and most of his books have been published by the newspapers in individual towns. He presents the idea to the editor-in-chief, and if he goes for it, he writes the history. It’s a fascinating career and his expenses are always covered by the newspaper.

How long should a local history be?

It all depends on how long the city or town has existed and how much has taken place within its borders. Writing a local history means covering every major event the town has ever experienced. Usually, local histories are only interesting for small towns with interesting pasts, but you don’t want your book to be too long. The ideal length, according to my friend, is about 75 pages, but that is only a guideline.

Where should you do research to write a local history?

The local Chamber of Commerce is always a great place to start, as is the local library. In some cases, however, local histories are best formed when written from the perspective of citizens whose relatives have always lived in that particular town. When you interview one person, he can usually think of five or six others with interesting stories to tell.

Writing a local history takes time and effort but the end result is often phenomenal — and lucrative.