I wrote a guide to publishing children’s books earlier, and wanted to make something about marketing children’s books as well – so I’m sharing this short guide and a video I made for a friend who writes children’s books – my tips on how to redistribute content to get more links and shares of her books are great for any picture book, and most could also be used for other types of publishing projects.
This video focuses on creative marketing ideas you can do with picture or art books, but if you’re just getting started with a kid’s book, the resources below will help you find an artist, format and publish, and market your children’s book. At the bottom of this article I’ll even share some formatting templates and publishing tutorials so you can publish yourself.
The following tips have been generously organized by children’s book expert Eevi Jones.
1. Finding or working with an artist
When it comes to writing a children’s book, hiring a talented (yet affordable) illustrator is invaluable. And developing a great working-relationship with your illustrator becomes especially important if you’re thinking about creating a series, as you will want to keep working with the same artist to keep the illustrations as consistent as possible.
For most self-publishing children’s book authors, this part of the book-creation process is the most complex and nerve-racking, because you’re putting your work – your vision – into someone else’s hands. More than likely, it’ll be a person you’ve never met, with whom you’ll only communicate via email or over the phone.
An average children’s book has between 32-34 pages. Depending on the age group you’re writing for, you will want an image on at least every other page, leaving you with about 15-17 illustrations.
The text can either be part of the image, or completely separate, with the text either below the illustration or on a separate page.
If the text and illustrations are separate, you will add the written part during the formatting process of your book.
If the text is part of the image, the illustrator will be adding it for you. Having the text in the image itself makes formatting much easier, as you don’t have to worry about page breaks or font sizes. It will also look consistent across different devices.
You can also use whatever font you want, and the text can be anywhere on the page, making it fun and engaging for little ones’ eyes.
Bear in mind that this method does make editing the text a bit harder – any changes or corrections have to be made within the image itself.
FINDING AN ILLUSTRATOR
To find the most suitable illustrator for you children’s book, you should look for more than one prospective artist so that you have some choices.
I usually hire my illustrator via one of the better-known outsourcing sites, as most provide you with reviews from the artists’ previous clients. This method is also very cost effective.
Here’s a short list of excellent outsourcing sites:
You can also search on children’s book specific media sites:
- Facebook illustrator groups
- LinkedIn – artist and illustrator groups
On most of the outsourcing sites, you post your project and illustrators then bid on it. In order to get an idea of how much you should be offering, browse some of the platform’s current projects. Know that your bid establishes a baseline only, as each illustrator will bid individually on your project if he or she is interested in working with you.
After the initial bidding process, you will have to go through each illustrator’s profile and portfolio to decide who would be a great fit. I recommend you develop a vetting process. I usually look at their profile and read through previous reviews, and view their portfolio to get a feel for their style. But the most important part of vetting is to request a sample illustration.
Besides helping you decide which illustrator to pick based on their artistic skills, this sample request will also help to see whether or not the illustrator is able to follow your written instructions.
ART RELEASE FORM
When working with illustrators, you’ll want to have a contract in place before they start on your project, in order to prevent any legal disputes or financial issues later on.
This is important, as you will want to be the sole holder of the rights to all illustrations. Once the work is done, the intellectual property rights of the illustrations belong to you in their entirety.
If you’re using one of the recommended outsourcing sites I mentioned earlier, you won’t have to worry about such a contract, as they usually take care of all these legal elements for you.
HOW TO PAY
If you’re hiring through an outsourcing site, pay through the payment options they provide. If you hire your illustrator outside of such a site, pay via PayPal or escrow.com.
When hiring an illustrator via one of the suggested outsourcing sites, payments are generally released based on milestones that you get to set.
I recommend paying the illustrator based on a flat fee. Additionally, consider offering to pay a bonus if the project is delivered on time. This is a great way to ensure that your illustrator will stay on track or work even faster.
Regular check-ins are key when working with a freelancer, as you will want to keep the delivery date on your illustrator’s radar. You will also want to keep time zone differences in mind. A constant and regular update is preferable, as you don’t want a bunch of work done that isn’t right. If your illustrator sends you his first image, you can critique it, and he can then use those pointers for all other images. This, in turn, will save you both lots of time and nerves.
2. Getting the book formatted for print/ebook
When it comes to formatting a children’s book, it’s important to start off with the illustrations being the right size. Even before hiring an illustrator, you’ll want to know your desired format and size of your book. This will allow your illustrator to create your artwork using the right dimensions so they won’t have to be resized or cropped later on.
Createspace’s available print sizes will depend on whether your book is going to be in color or black and white.
If you decide to have your illustrations cover the entire page, make sure to select a full-bleed interior. Full-bleed interior means that the content extends past the edge of the page, with no white space on the edges. It must have .125″ of bleed at the top, bottom, and outer margins (exclude the gutter). For example, a finished book with a trim size of 6” x 9” requires a 6.125” x 9.25” interior (width x height).
You will want your images to be large enough (at least 2,500 pixels per side) to look good in print, while keeping an eye on the overall size of your file, because the bigger your file, the higher the minimum list price will be. Anything below 3 MB has a minimum list price of $0.99. With a file size between 3-10 MB, the minimum list price will be $1.99. Anything larger than that requires a minimum list price of $2.99.
Here’s a great Inches to Pixels and Pixels-to-Inches converter so you know how large your image should be depending on your selected trim size. Be sure to select a DPI (Dots Per Inch) of 300:
Many aspiring children’s book authors wish to have their book available in a hardcover. Createspace doesn’t offer a hardcover option, but places like Ingram Spark offer that POD option you are looking for!
When formatting your children’s book, you can either do it yourself, or hire someone to do it for you.
I prefer using Microsoft Word to set up my paperback interiors, simply because it’s easy, and because Createspace’s templates are provided as Word documents. Alternatively, you can use Adobe InDesign, Mac’s Pages, or Google Docs online.
To prepare your paperback using Word, you can download Createspace’s templates here. Please note that the templates do not accommodate bleed, so you will have to alter your margins yourself once you open up the template.
Whether or not you want to include page numbers is entirely up to you, but books for very little ones usually omit them.
The beauty and simplicity of formatting the paperback is that it will be printed exactly as you see it. There won’t be any surprises, such as unexpected line breaks, that you might experience with the setup of the ebook version.
You will want to add images using the “insert picture” option, rather than copy and paste, as copying and pasting can reduce an image’s quality. Because our page size and image size are the same, it will plug right in. Right-clicking on the image, ensure that its layout option is set to “in line with text” so that it remains where it’s meant to be during the entire formatting process.
It’s important to note that KDP now also offers the printing of a paperback. I personally still use Createspace for the paperback, as KDP still doesn’t allow for expanded distribution and is not available in Canada as of yet. However, this might change in the near future.
Ebooks aren’t the main medium used by smaller children and their parents yet, but I strongly suggest you take advantage of this format as well, as it comes in handy during promotions and for review requests.
There are multiple ways you can format the ebook version of your children’s book, the most common ones being (1) KDP Kids Book Creator, (2) the open source formatting software Sigil, and (3) your regular Word document.
I personally use Sigil, a multi-platform ebook editor. It is free, allows for images to be resized within the program, you can upload your own font, and you can add hyperlinks to your text. You can download your free version here.
KDP Kids Book Creator, on the other hand, may be easier to use, but you can’t add any hyperlinks. It also doesn’t allow you to resize images, so you must resize the images prior to uploading them.
3. Marketing for children’s books authors
Authors of self-published children’s books have their marketing work cut out for them, as promotions for these titles have to essentially appeal to two distinct groups:
- The kids the book is intended for and
- The adults (such as parents and grandparents) who actually buy the book for them
The average buyer’s age of children’s books is between 30 and 44. Females make up more than 70% of these buyers.
That means that, ideally, we should keep these two distinct groups in mind throughout the entire book creation process, including the actual storyline, wording, and underlying message you want to bring across within your book.
The actual marketing of children’s books is similar to other books, but here are some additional and fun methods you can use and take advantage of:
The actual marketing of children’s books is similar to other books, but here are some additional and fun methods you can use and take advantage of.
TRY A FUN TRAILER
What virtual approach could we use to reach children directly?
Children are all over YouTube. According to a Children’s Deep Dive study by Egmont/Nielsen,
between 35% and 45% of UK children aged 4-7 visit YouTube each week. From age 8 upwards, that jumps to 60%, increasing to around 80% by age 11.
A Smarty Pants “brand popularity” survey of 6-12 year-olds in the USA found that YouTube beat the likes of Disney, Netflix for Kids, Nickelodeon, and Lego.
And that’s where we can make use of a strategy that has been successfully used by the movie industry since 1913 – a trailer.
Book trailers can be a wonderful addition to your marketing strategy. In addition to putting them onto YouTube, you can use them in places such as your newsletter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads, Amazon Author Page, and your own website.
How about some strategies that allow you to directly reach your little readers?
Many children’s book authors don’t realize that many schools set aside an annual budget for paid author visits. School visits can be either free or paid – I suggest offering free visits for your first couple of times.
Send an email to your nearby schools and offer to do a reading of your book. Be sure to say what age range the book is aimed at, so that the administration can choose age-appropriate classes.
Have fun with this one. Get creative, involve the kids in your reading, let them ask questions, and bring silly props or costumes that relate to your book and that you think the kids might enjoy.
Libraries love hosting story hours with local authors. And most libraries have weekly scheduled story times already, with lots of children and parents attending. Larger libraries even offer multiple story times based on different age groups, making the targeting of your book’s audience even easier.
Call nearby libraries and let them know about your book. Bring a number of paper copies on the day of the reading, so you can sell your signed book.
This is my personal favorite marketing strategy of all. It’s fun, it’s quirky, and it won’t cost you a dime (well, a book, maybe). I’m talking about Influencer Marketing.
Influencer marketing is a form of marketing in which focus is placed on influential people that are able to reach thousands of consumers through their social networks and blogs.
And being associated with such influencers can be an exceptional promotional strategy for your children’s book.
Children’s books are short, fun, and usually teach something valuable to children. That’s what makes it much more likely to get an influencer to read and provide an editorial review for you.
And if the influencer agrees to provide such a review, it’s very likely she’ll also promote or mention your book to her audience.
The most important step in influencer marketing is to identify the most suitable influencers. Make sure that your book’s topic is relevant to each influencer you approach. Try to bring actual value to the influencers’ audiences, and you’re halfway to getting a “yes.”
Just remember that the more your book’s message aligns with the influencer and her audience, the more likely she’ll agree to provide an editorial review, especially if it furthers her own personal and social growth.
Writing a children’s book is a complex process, but so very rewarding. Don’t get discouraged. Keep on writing. Just remember that most successful children’s book authors are those that have more than one book.
MORE ABOUT EEVI (PRESS BIO)
Eevi Jones is a 7-time bestselling children’s book author and a mom of two. When she’s not being recruited to building a Lego castle or busy pretend-playing with her little ones, she runs EeviJones.com, coaching aspiring children’s book authors to write and publish their own by walking them through the creation process one step at a time.
Eevi has appeared in numerous publications and top podcasts including EOFire, Scary Mommy, Huffington Post, EP Magazine and more. Eevi lives in D.C. with her husband and two children.
To learn more and get a copy of her newest book How To Self-Publish A Children’s Book.
Formatting templates for your children’s book
(Back to Derek…)
Last year I got into publishing children’s books on Kindle but then got distracted. I only finished a few, but I had to learn how to format them – add pictures, and create ebooks or PDFs that will work for Createspace, and more. One of those books was “Color and Grow Rich”: and since I’m now in an anthology called “Write and Grow Rich” it’s a good time to dust it off… so I’m making some new videos about the process. I’ll also be talking about printing specialty design in paperback books by adding full-page art to the chapter pages… but you need to set an extra trim margin for Createspace so you need to measure well. More on that soon.