Part 4: The Book Writing Process

β€œI think it would be very educational (not to mention fascinating) for you to guide us blog readers through the process of writing a book. From the initial idea to the finished product, step-by-step.” A blog reader

To read the first three parts, see these links: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. To recap, we’ve looked at steps 1-6 to how I write a book:

  1. Ideas
  2. Outline
  3. Character Profiles
  4. Pre-Book Trial Run
  5. First Draft
  6. Editing

Steps number seven and eight happen about the same time. We’ll call step seven Illustrations. I go through and evaluate the chapters to determine what might make an interesting picture for each one. Then, I’ll often run those ideas by others for their opinions. I keep a spreadsheet that lists each chapter, a short description of what it’s about, and then my picture idea (or multiple ideas until I narrow them down). Sometimes, I don’t have any ideas for a chapter, and the family will help me brainstorm possibilities. In Finding Change, I deviated from the Moody books one-small-picture-per-chapter, and instead, we did fewer beautiful, full-page illustrations, which required a lot of time.

The next step after choosing the illustration is to figure out a photograph that would depict what I’m envisioning for my illustrator to draw from. Two friends illustrated a number of my books, and now, Mary has done four titles (Christmas Comes to Sunflower, Sunflower’s Christmas Miracle, Colorado with the Moodys, and Finding Change). Mary is very talented, and she can work with a basic idea, embellishing it and changing it to what I want!

Mary, my great illustrator

We’ve done some interesting things to get pictures over the years. One involved going to a grocery store, with a nurse friend of ours, and asking permission from the store to break some eggs on the floor. They were great to accommodate us! Another time, we rented a U-Haul truck and used smoke balls to make it look like the engine was smoking. For the last book, I went to the town from which I patterned Main Street and took a few pictures for the scenes I wanted. A neighbor helped me out for another picture. Mary spends as many hours as she can sketching each day until we get the project finished.

Step eight is Test Families. Since I tend to work under tight deadlines, they generally have just 10-14 days to read the book and give me feedback. Since I’m still in the Editing stage at this point, I try to get the book in the best condition I can, as it hasn’t reached the copyeditor step yet.

My test reader are an enthusiastic bunch, excited to be the first readers! As they are reading, I’ll sometimes get e-mails from the moms, sharing what they’re loving. After they finish the book, they’ll e-mail back a questionnaire, which asks things like: What are the book’s strong points? What would you say the weak points are? Did your children have trouble understanding parts of the story? etc. I also ask for back cover comments and comments for the website.

One of my test families

There are still more steps to this exciting journey, but I’ll save those for another post! I’ll tell you now that I’m brainstorming ideas for Finding Change’s sequel, stuffing a Pages file with many ideas and plot themes, and getting close to forming an official outline.

Thanks for all your enthusiasm on the 2500 post! I’ve loved it!


“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without
wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)”
Hebrews 10:23

10 thoughts on “Part 4: The Book Writing Process”

  1. Dear Sarah,

    now I can honestly say I do appreciate the effort, passion and care you put into writing your books even more!

    And it is oh so neat being able to have other family members collaborate, while at the same time nurturing their growing talents.

    Many blessings,


    1. Thanks, Alice! It is a journey, but it’s exciting to see the path the Lord has led me on. Yes, family helps so much!

      Thanks for all your encouragement!

  2. I’ve often wondered about writer’s deadlines. What/who sets the deadlines and what is the reason a writer can’t just finish a book on their own timeline? (I have a son who is interested in writing, so I’m curious about the deadline process.)

  3. i never knew about the writing process of a book and its very very interesting. thanks for sharing sarah. keep up the great work in illustrating mary.

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