|Posted on February 13, 2014 at 11:25 AM|
Whiskey Women – the Untold Story of how women saved Bourbon, Scotch and Irish Whiskey by Wall Street Journal best-selling author Fred Minnick was published by Potomac Books in October 2013 and can be readily purchased on www.Amazon.co.uk. It is a fascinating account of how women have been involved in the distillation of spirits from the early Mesopotamian era, through the Middle Ages, to bootlegging in the US Prohibition era and right up to modern times where women have become distillery owners, board members and master blenders for whisky producers across the world.
However, readers might be taken aback at this blatant promotion of a new publication and wonder what has this got to do with genealogical research. The answer to that can be found tucked away on Page 163 of the book under the heading “Acknowledgments” and reads: “John McGee, the founder of Wheech Scottish Ancestry Services, assisted with my Scotland research, especially with Dalmore and Laphroaig. Fortunately, he is easily bribed with a dram of Islay whisky.” Although Fred is probably right that I am easily bribed with a dram of Islay whisky (my grandmother was born in Lagavulin, Islay and her forebears were generations of maltmen at Lagavulin distillery) there are two more important points to be made regarding this type of research.
Firstly, the author, Fred Minnick, made sure that I was well paid for this research. Writers are usually given fairly tight budgets to work with by their publishers and this was also the same in Minnick’s case. However, a reputable author like Minnick recognises two key aspects – the value of in-depth local research and the onerous time it takes to carry out that research. Although he could trace relevant documentation in Scottish online catalogues, Minnick was unable to fly to Scotland to conduct research on the actual paper documents by himself. It would not have been cost effective and thus he saw the value in setting me a fairly generous budget to do the work for him. This is a key point to bear in mind when agreeing a budget with a client who is remotely cut off from his / her sources of research that you are especially privy to accessing locally. In the end the client will weigh up your cost against what it would cost themselves in terms of time, travel, accommodation, gaining local knowledge and research costs. This could work out in excess of 3 or 4 times what your estimated cost works out as, so never undersell your expertise in genealogical research or feel that you are charging the client too much.
Secondly, it is vital to ensure upfront with an author that you will be fully acknowledged within the book for any research that you have carried out. This is not just for a sense of pride in seeing your name in print and recognising the worth of your research laid out within the narrative. It is also a recognition that the author has truly valued the fruits of your labours. To this end it is important to ensure that all your research is fully and accurately referenced back to the source documents. Like the professional author that he is, Minnick religiously referenced all his passages throughout the book and it was easy for me to say, “Yes, the author has acknowledged me for that!” A book acknowledgment also provides valuable ‘advertising’ for your business on a wider scale as the book may reach new client bases that you may not otherwise have impressed, say, through your own website or local marketing. New business is all about new markets and book acknowledgments can help provide new opportunities to you.
As a bonus Fred Minnick posted me a free copy of his very readable Whiskey Women book from the States at his own expense and signed it in the flyleaf, “John - Thanks for your help in researching Scotland, Fred M”. That is a pretty big over-statement but, hey, I’ll accept that kind of praise. John McGee, ASGRA member.