Prepping for an Individual Study on Publishing a Children's Book

  • Hello SVS forum!

    It's been a long time since I posted here, but I'm back again for a little bit, this time looking for some advice and pointers. I'm looking to do an individual study this coming semester, during the course of which I'd like to illustrate, publish, and maybe even print a simple 16-page children's book. As of now, I'm confident enough in my illustration skills to do the amount of work required, but I'm very unclear on the publishing process and the whole printing process as well.

    My question here is whether you folks would be able to share some on what the whole process looks like for publishing a Children's book; what sort of work needs to be done? Is there a specific organization I need to contact? What have your experiences looked like for self-publishing?

    Anything helps!

  • @jabbernewt I think if you're self-publishing the process looks very much like "you find and pay a printer to print your book" and then you salesman the heck out of it!

    There's a few videos on creating your own kid's book. They're all great to listen to.

    One bit of information I remember really sticking out to me was settling on a size of your book and talking to your printer about it right away. The printer will have an optimal size to print to take advantage of every square inch of the sheet. If you're a size up or down, you're payin' for paper wastage.

    Good luck! I'm gonna try and hammer out a book dummy over the Christmas break (I'm not optimistic 🙂 )

  • Hi there @Jabbernewt !

    That sounds like an exciting project!
    "The whole process" is of course pretty broad, there are many factors weighing in.

    I started working on my first solo picture book in 2017. When I had finished 3/4 of the illustrations, I planned and launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the book (it was funded October 2018 and my book will be finished in the beginning of 2019). I chose to not go through publishers (I haven't shown the work to any), but first gain experience by going through the complete process autonomously. And through the several steps that were a part of this process, I learned a lot along the way. So I think it is definitely
    a good assignment to learn a lot of within this particular field!

    Since I'm going through the process for the first time I can hardly call myself an expert, lol, but I think the process can be divided into several categories (feel free to add to this, anyone), with each their own tasks:

    1. The creative process (which you're familiar with already; the creation of your illustrations).
    2. The printing
    3. (Self) Publishing
    4. Marketing (if this is something that is also to be included in your project).
    5. Fulfillment of shipping (if your choose to not use a POD service).

    You need to have a plan before you start. You may want to dive into the illustrations first (and concept wise of course it is very good to start writing and sketching your ideas), but be sure to know the specifications beforehand. You have no art director or publisher telling you these specifications; you have all the free choice which is awesome and can be overwhelming at the same time!
    Some important decisions to make before you start:

    • The format and size of the book: you want to create your (thumbnail) sketches on the correct layout. A small square book will ask for a different layout than a large landscape one. (I'm sorry I'm not familiar with all the correct American sizing terms since I'm from The Netherlands, but I hope you get the jist 🙂 )
    • Be aware of the gutter of the book and any bleed margins (again, not familiar with the exact English terminology).

    You can research print on demand companies to self publish or choose a book printer and take matters into your own hands. In the latter you need to get an ISBN number (if this is the same in the USA, I'm not sure; but it's an official registration number for your title).
    You can contact book printers and ask for a quote. It is good to know beforehand for which specifics you'd need a quote. Some things a printing company needs to know from you is:

    • The number of books you'd like to receive a quote on
    • The size and layout of the book (landscape / portrait)
    • The type of binding
    • The kind of paper (for both the cover, end papers and book pages)
    • Color or black and white

    You can most often find some information about this on the website. They usually have some guidelines for the manner in which the digital files are delivered to them as well (what kind of color profile, kind of PDF file, etc).

    I think I can go on for quite some time, I hope it was a little bit helpful?

    Anyways, what I'd do is make a list and get a helicopter view of all the tasks included. Feel free to send me a message if you have a specific question!

  • Oegh, and when contacting book printers, it is good to know that often you can ask for a sample book to be sent your way.

    If you want to save on costs since it is a school study, you can also look into online printers. I have no experience yet myself, but I know they may not offer sewn binding, and cannot be visited physically, but it will often be reasonable pricing wise.

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