Author Rachel Kelley describes the long road to a published book

In her final version of her new book, Rachel Kelley chronicles several life events through the lens of faith — a life-threatening accident, an unexpected move from Tennessee to the hills of Mountain View, her path to raising 6 kids, seemingly impossible financial situations, and how the book itself would ultimately land in the hands of author John Grisham.   

On Saturday she will be presenting her book, Rachel’s Raft, a faith-based autobiography, to the public at a Christmas open house held annually by The Bread of Life bookstore here in Batesville.

But it took five years, and challenges she said she never expected to be so hard before getting to the final version.

Rachel Kelley wrote and wrote and wrote. She wrote for three years actually, grabbing any spare moment she could to churn out another page.

When she finally finished, she had a manuscript of about 150,000 words — more than 600 pages.

“It was huge,” she said of the first draft of her book. “It’s a snippet of my personal journey with the Lord through the last several years, and if it happened, it was in there.”

Kelley said the finished product was so overwhelming that she set it aside for two years, until someone suggested an editor, a local from Lyon College, who had assisted on other books.

Kelley said as they talked, the main story became clear: “How God led us [her family] through a process of whittling away more and more from our lives…and how God would give me small steps, and every step became increasingly harder.”

With her editor’s help, throughout the course of 4 months the book was gleaned down to a reasonable 50,000 words, she assures potential readers, but adds it was very hard to let go. “I just had to cut it and not look back.”

Her mom, an artist, designed the cover and then the whole thing was uploaded and self-published via Kindle Direct Publishing, which she says was the easiest part of the whole process.

“It’s so personal. It’s like releasing a diary to the general public,” she said of finally seeing her words in print.

The availability of self- publish options has motivated many unknown authors to share their work. The drawback to self publishing rather than going through the traditional channels is that it is up to the author then to promote and sell copies. But Kelley says she’s not going to stress about that.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the laborers labor in vain,” she says of the next steps. “I feel like I was faithful in writing it, and that’s the main thing… People have been really positive and genuine in their responses, and so the feedback that I’ve gotten — that’s the way He’s blessing me.”

Kelley will be signing her book from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Bread of Life bookstore on Saturday. Those wishing to purchase a copy can do so there, or at

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