Making a book versus writing a book – is there a difference?

Making a book versus writing a book

Exciting news! I’ve made a book.

Dottie and the Wombat is now in print and I’m very excited, not to mention proud! I have had a few copies printed for my grandchildren and most importantly, Dottie has her very own copy.

Dottie and the Wombat book
Dottie and the Wombat book

You may have noticed that I titled this post with the words ‘making a book‘ – why? Because I don’t consider it a ‘real’ book maybe???

Do you think there’s a difference between ‘writing a book’ and getting published or just ‘making a book’ on your own? I’m not selling my book when all is said and done. I did approach some publishing houses about the prospect of getting it out there, only to get my first ever rejection letter 😦

Am I instead a self-published author? I really don’t understand all the terminology and that is probably one reason why I haven’t been snatched up yet as an up and coming children’s author 🙂 Isn’t it amazing how many celebrities are also turning to writing children’s books these days?

To make the book, like our travel photo books we’ve made in the past, I used Blurb – a program where I do all the setting out to suit and then upload it, pay for it and have it printed and sent to me. It works quite well, I even have an ISBN number on it!

The back story

When my granddaughter Dottie was born very early at 25 weeks in England, (and remember I live in Australia), I managed to get myself over there just as she turned a week old. Not a bad effort and I was on my own too, as the Mathematician couldn’t make it. We already had our plans set for a trip from mid-November when Dottie was originally due.

Dottie holding her mummy's finger
Dottie holding her mummy’s finger at just over a week old

Before she was born Dottie was called Wombat, a nod to my daughter’s Aussie roots, and on my long flight over I started writing some notes about her story. These eventually became part of the book. It helped pass the time!

Illustrating the book

I wanted the book to be a ‘proper’ children’s book with illustrations and, as I can’t draw to save my life, I looked around for someone who could. Using Etsy, I found Sandra, an illustrator in Brisbane and started communicating with her about my ideas and her prices.

We came to an agreement on the number of images and she asked a few questions about styles I liked, sending me some early sketches to choose from, as shown below. I was so excited about how it was all turning out.

These sketches were then developed into drawings with continual communication between us as to colours and backgrounds. As Dottie has two fur brothers, Ozzy the Black Labrador and Bruce the Rabbit, they were incorporated into the illustrations too. I loved that the bunny drawing is with some strawberries, as Cheddar is well known for growing strawberries – this was just one of those magical moments that happened along the way!

I love the way the drawings have turned out – what do you think of them?

Making the book

Once I had the finished drawings for my book, I started with Blurb, inputting the text and arranging the illustrations. I was able to flip some of them around so that it looked like an extra image rather than just using the same ones over and over again. Sandra sent me different quality electronic versions of the drawings so they could be used in various ways.

I uploaded the book to Blurb and had it sent to my daughter in England as we knew we would be over there visiting.

I was so exited to see it in print when it arrived and I immediately took it with me to visit Dottie in NICU.

Dottie and the Wombat
Dottie and her special book

Once she came home from NICU I was finally able to sit and read my special book to her – I had to wait 14 weeks for my first cuddle with Dottie due to her being in NICU, so I had lots of cuddles to catch up on!

I love this photo of Dottie looking at me intently as I read to her.

Reading Dottie's book to her
Reading Dottie’s book to her

You can click here to see my book on Blurb

So that’s my writing a book story! This post has been a long time coming but I was determined to write down my process and to mark my book production by sharing it with you all. Thanks for all your good wishes on Dottie’s progress and my original post about my story.

My post last week about Melanie and her friendship story for Bliss reminded me that I still hadn’t pressed publish on this one. Do you forget about posts that you’ve started too?

Do you have any thoughts on making a book this way? Can I call myself an author?

Thanks 🙂

Deb xx

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51 Replies to “Making a book versus writing a book – is there a difference?”

  1. Deb, if you want to be a published writer then don’t give up, keep creating those books as who knows one day a publisher may say “yes”. I love the illustrations and I am in awe of all you creative folk that write and draw! Lovely book Deb and when our nieces and nephews were young we brought books about native animals that were very similar to your wombat one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Suz, that means a lot to me. I love the drawings and they fit perfectly with what I had in mind. I love the native animal stories and this is a very special one for Dottie!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We have made many books now for the four grandchildren and my great niece, each Christmas at least, so it probably adds up. Each one is a limited edition of one! No drawing, all done with photos of real life or scene setting with toys. We just use a company that produces photo books, an expensive way of doing it, but it works. Now would that be making or publishing?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Janet, it’s nice to know there are many more of us out there than I thought! We make holiday books after our trip which are like diary entries and photos and they are great coffee table books. This one was extra special and the drawings make it feel more like a ‘real’ book to me.


  3. I definitely think you wrote a book. The illustrations are beautiful! Such a lovely idea, to write a book especially for your little granddaughter. I’m sure she’ll treasure it for life. I hope she’s growing and thriving, regards Christina

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Christina and I agree the illustrations are fabulous, it was definitely worth the money. She is growing and thriving I’m happy to say and currently staying shielded in the UK as per NHS advice due to her underlying health issues.


  4. I think you are a published author and that is what counts. I love the illustrations. We have been getting some extra nice Cheddar strawberries this year as Wimbledon was cancelled and the growers had to sell the extra strawberries locally. The hot weather helps as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Anne I’m slowly coming around to your way of thinking! The illustrations were a perfect match and so simple but evocative. Yummy Cheddar strawberries – lucky you!


  5. Congrats, how exciting for you and your grandbabies, especially Dottie. Big publishing house or self published, doesn’t matter – you are a published author!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, you’re an author. Even if you hadn’t written this book, you’re still the author of this blog. So, you’re an author, Debbie.

    And if you never have any more copies of the book made, in years to come, they will be considered rare and probably sell for a lot of money. Don’t forget to sign them. As the experts say on ‘The Antiques Roadshow’ a signature makes items even more valuable.

    It’s great to see the results of all your hard work and enjoyment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so pleased to read your comment Hugh, I really did toss up whether to publish this post after sitting on it for so long! I’m glad I’ve shared my process.

      I must say I hadn’t thought that writing a blog would constitute being an author but I’m happy to take that on board now 🙂

      I’ll be signing them don’t worry! Thanks again for your encouragement.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. A few years ago, I wrote a guest post titled ‘Am I a writer or an author?’ At the time, I hadn’t self-published any of my two books, yet most of the comments left on the post said ‘author.’ I was pleased with the results and then started calling myself an author. So I’m going by what I was told, Debbie. And you know what? I’m glad I wrote and published that post too.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate your comments Miriam and am checking out the links you put in – thanks! Yes I love the shot of her looking up at me too, her face is so intent.


  7. This is one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever seen Deb. The love and affection put into writing and creating the book make it so special and just imagine how Dottie is going to feel as she gets older and has this amazing book especially made for her by her loving Nanny. Amazing and so very special.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My darling friend, YOU are an AUTHOR! You wrote a book. An author isn’t about the publishing or the marketing or the sales. Being an author is about the writing, the creative genius that brings the story to life. And YOU did that! The illustrations are just perfection, too. So many times, I see brand new authors paired with less than talented illustrators and the illustrations become a detriment rather than a compliment to the story. In Sandra, you found a great match for your beautiful words.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Leslie, your words always make me smile!!! Thank you SO much for taking the time to write such beautiful uplifting comments, you don’t know what it means to me. I agree Sandra was fabulous to work with and so talented at what she does! OK I AM an author xx


  9. Hi Deb – I missed this post – gorgeous book and the illustrations certainly make it even more special (the artist did a great job and I totally get what you mean about not being artistic yourself – neither am I!) I went over and checked the preview of your book and it looked wonderful. I’ve done a few little ones on Canva for free for Sophia and she loves them and is wearing them out – children seem to love stories about themselves don’t they?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Beautiful pictures, of Dottie, and the book, and the pictures in the book. Is there a difference between being a writer and an author? Thank you for sharing your process. I may need it, one day. Working on a writing project with a friend. Sharing this on my Facebook page and especially with my dear friend and sister writer/author. Blessings to you, Michele

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Deb, you are an author and I just loved everything about Dottie and the Wombat. One rejection letter is nothing some authors receive hundreds or more. Believe in yourself and think about self-publishing. The illustrations are beautiful and such a treasure for your grandchildren, especially Dottie to keep. You have made me think in the past about writing about the Adventures of Big ‘E’ and Little ‘E’ two brothers who get into all sorts of mischief. Maybe when I have a spare 5 minutes I could revisit. Thanks so much for #MLSTL and I look forward to your next book. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sue, you are showing me only too well, that anything we dream is possible! I adore the illustrations and agree it is a lovely keepsake for Dottie and her cousins, as they each have a copy as well. I think your Big E and Little E would love a book by you and if anyone can do it, you can! x


  12. I thought I had read this post, Deb, although I may have seen pictures of the book on another post or on Instagram.

    I can feel the warmth and the love jumping from the words and the illustrations. Truly, a labour of love. Interesting on the semantics of making a book and writing a book. I believe they can go hand in hand. Ultimately, you have written a book and then made a hard copy out of it.

    Good to know about “Blurb.” My favourite app used to be directly from the Apple Photo stores. The books turned out beautiful and very user friendly to create. I was very disappointed when Apple discontinued this. I appreciate you sharing your process.

    It is a miracle how Dottie was soooo tiny and how big she is now. ❤️ This entire post warms my heart, Deb. You are a gift of a Grandmother and your family is very fortunate to have you in their lives. ❤️ #MLSTL and sharing on various SM

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love reading your comments Erica, they always make me smile!

      I agree with you, I have written and made a book and I am very happy with that.

      Dottie is so amazing with her attitude and fighting spirit, I am constantly blown away with her achievements – and her mother’s dedication goes without saying!

      I do love being a grandmother but am finding it is quite worrying as well, I know you will understand. Once again many thanks for your lovely comment.xx

      Liked by 1 person

  13. This is such a lovely idea and a lovely thing for your grandkids to keep. And love the illustrations – what a good idea. We did a family cook book years ago (Food you grew up with) which included all the sorts of things we cooked over the decades with recipes and also setting up the photographs. Nearly killed us but it’s a fabulous record of our family culinary journeys. There’s another of those in us (Food we grew into). Have been meaning to do a blog about it. I might look at Blurb at their offerings as the one we used wasn’t brilliant. I have a number of manuscripts floating about my house waiting for publication, but that’s a whole other story.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This is such a lovely idea and a lovely thing for your grandkids to keep. And love the illustrations – what a good idea. We did a family cook book years ago (Food you grew up with) which included all the sorts of things we cooked over the decades with recipes and also setting up the photographs. Nearly killed us but it’s a fabulous record of our family culinary journeys. There’s another of those in us (Food we grew into). Have been meaning to do a blog about it. I might look at Blurb at their offerings as the one we used wasn’t brilliant. I have a number of manuscripts floating about my house waiting for publication, but that’s a whole other story.

    Liked by 1 person

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