Creating and publishing a children’s book is a delightful journey filled with imagination, creativity, and of course, a bit of hard work. Let’s navigate through this process step-by-step to understand how you can format and publish a children’s book successfully.
1. Write and Edit Your Story
Crafting Your Narrative
Begin with a strong, captivating story. Keep in mind the age group you’re writing for and tailor the language, themes, and content appropriately. Remember, children’s books thrive on creativity, so don’t hesitate to think out of the box. My 24-chapter plot outline works pretty well, if you have 24+ pages.
Story-based or fiction picture books are usually 32 pages long and vary between 500 to 1000 words.
Editing Your Work
Once your story is complete, be sure to carefully edit and proofread your text. This step is crucial to ensure the language, grammar, and punctuation are flawless. Consider hiring a professional editor who specializes in children’s literature to polish your manuscript. You should also use some editing software.
2. Illustration and Design
Creating Vibrant Illustrations
Children’s books heavily rely on illustrations. Collaborate with an illustrator who can bring your story to life with vibrant, engaging artwork. Keep in mind that the illustrations should not only supplement the story but also hold a child’s attention. It’s risky but you can find great illustrators on Etsy. Expect to pay around $50 for a detailed image, which puts the average cost at around $1500. You can also try some AI art generators like Midjourney.
Layout and Design
After the illustrations are ready, work on the layout and design of the book. Choose fonts and text sizes that are easy to read. The placement of the text and illustrations should be balanced and visually appealing. These part is tricky, but I’m going to make a list of best fonts for children’s books and then design some templates you can use.
3. Formatting Your Book
Selecting the Book Size
Decide on an appropriate book size. Picture books are generally square, but you can explore other sizes depending on your story’s needs. This decision impacts the layout and formatting of your book. KDP print now offers a case-bound hardcover which looks great. Unfortunately this doesn’t apply to the square options yet:
- 8.25″ x 8.25″ (20.96 x 20.96 cm)
- 8.5″ x 8.5″ (21.59 x 21.59 cm)
Formatting the Interior
Use book formatting templates or software to format the interior of your book. Remember to account for ‘bleed’ areas, which are the parts that will be trimmed in printing. The text and essential elements of the illustrations should remain within safe margins. (You can choose in KDP, whether you want “trim” or not – meaning the images go all the way to the edges – but you may need to do some fancy formatting).
4. Publishing Your Book
Self-Publishing Vs. Traditional Publishing
Decide whether you want to self-publish or approach a traditional publisher. Self-publishing gives you more creative control and higher royalty rates, while traditional publishing can provide broader distribution and marketing support. Personally, as someone who has sold over 100K books, I prefer self-publishing, but it’s a long conversation.
ISBN and Copyright
If you decide to self-publish, you will need to get an ISBN for your book. This unique identifier helps catalog your book in the publishing industry. Also, consider copyrighting your work to protect it legally. You can use this free ISBN barcode generator.
Print and Digital Options
You have the option of publishing your book in print, as an eBook, or both. Print books provide a tangible reading experience, while eBooks can reach a global audience and offer interactive elements.
5. Marketing and Promotion
Building Your Author Platform
Start building your author platform, which can include a website, social media profiles, and an email list. This platform will be invaluable when it’s time to promote your book. I have several guides about book marketing and author platform building (you’ll get them when you sign up for the free templates).
Launching Your Book
Plan a book launch that creates buzz around your title. This can involve pre-orders, giveaways, book signings, and school visits. Continue to market your book after the launch to maintain sales momentum.
Publishing a children’s book is no small feat, but with careful planning and execution, you can create a book that delights young readers and stands out in the vibrant world of children’s literature. Happy publishing!