How To Create A Children’s Picture Book

collage of children's picture books

From trim size to art files, interior formatting, and your book cover, a lot more goes into creating a children’s picture book than just your brilliant story.

Beyond the writing and the contents of the story, every book genre comes with expectations when it comes to the physical book itself — from trim size to cover art, font choice to interior design. This is more true for children’s books than just about any other book genre.

Think about what you expect from a children’s picture book. What books do you most enjoy reading to your children? Which books do your children respond to? Which elements of your favorite children’s books do you want to emulate in your own?

These are important questions to answer before you start to write your children’s book. Imagining the finished product will help inform many decisions about how you write and construct the story and ideas in your head.

Here are some things to consider as you embark on creating a children’s picture book.

Select your trim size

The trim size is basically the size of the printed book you’re producing. There are standard trim sizes, but there’s a range to choose from, and square and landscape formats are most common for children’s books.

The trim size of your children’s book will impact your approach to illustrations and layout. Children’s picture books are most often:

  • US Letter (8.5” x 11”)
  • Landscape (9” x 7”)
  • Square (8.5” x 8.5”)
  • Large Square (10” x 10”)

To produce a printed children’s picture book, you’ll need at least 24 pages in the finished book (not including the cover).

Set your art files up properly

Any images you want included in a printed book need to be in CMYK color mode at 300 dpi resolution. That might require you get a high-resolution scan of the physical art you commissioned and then hand the digital files off to your designer.

If you intend to have your illustrations take up a full page, the art files should be larger than the trim size you selected and you’ll need to design them with full bleed, which requires an extra 1/8th of an inch on every side. For example, a Square 8.5 “x 8.5” with bleed would require 300 dpi images at 8.75” x 8.75”.

Decide how you will design your book

Some illustrators are capable of making beautiful art and can handle the interior book formatting as well, but not every graphic artist is a capable book designer. You should consider hiring a book designer to handle the interior formatting and an experienced book cover designer to create a cover that will attract readers’ (and parents’) attention and give your book a chance in the competitive children’s book market.

If your designer is formatting your book, they will need to use our InDesign templates for the interior and book cover. Click here to download BookBaby’s design templates.

Note that interior text formatting is not an editorial service. When submitting a manuscript for production, be sure your document is the absolute, ready-to-publish, final draft. We are happy to make any formatting changes after you receive your first proof. Text, punctuation, and grammar edits will incur additional fees.

BookBaby’s Children’s Book Self-Publishing Package

Of course, BookBaby can handle your book cover design and interior formatting, and our Children’s Book Self-Publishing Package is a simple way to go from finished manuscript and raw graphic files to full book production. It is so easy to have BookBaby do the work for you. You just need to:

  1. Combine all sections/chapters into one Microsoft Word document in the order you would like them to appear.
  2. Place your images and captions in your word document.
  3. Refrain from using style guides such as “Heading 1” in your document.
  4. Use a basic font, such as Times New Roman. You will be able to specify a font you would like us to use in your finished book.
  5. Do not try to force line breaks by using paragraph breaks in your document — i.e., only press “Return” (Enter) at the end of a paragraph. Including line breaks in the middle of a paragraph or sentence may cause errors when formatting.

Start marketing now!

Free guide offer for Promote Then PublishWe’ve devoted a complete guide to the notion that you need to start promoting your book as you are writing it to lay the groundwork for your book launch. Before you create a children’s picture book, download our Promote Then Publish guide, consider getting marketing guidance with our book marketing and promotion services, and look into Ads for Authors. Speaking engagements and presentations in schools and libraries should also be on your list of considerations when it comes to promoting your self-published children’s book.

Don’t forget your ABCs

Of course, the first step to successfully creating a children’s picture book is writing an excellent story and including sensational images. Once you have that together, the physical presentation of your words and pictures is every bit as important as the content within. Pay attention to every detail, make sure your files and manuscript are the best they can be, and enlist the help of professionals to make sure your final product meets your demanding expectations.


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10 Tips For Creating Your First Children’s Picture Book
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