So you want to publish a children’s book?
Many people dream of writing a children’s book. Some people even talk about writing a children’s book series. Few people succeed.
So before we go any further, take a second to realize how far you’ve come! You’re likely reading this article because you’ve already started taking your idea and creating the rough draft of your book. Well done!
This guide will take you from blank page to launch day of your children’s book:
- How To Publish A Children’s Book The Right Way
- What Type of Children’s Book Are You Making?
- Writing Your Children’s Book
- Edit the Book Prior to Publishing
- Get Illustrations for Your Children’s Book
- Publishing Your Children’s Book on Amazon
- Pre-Launch Basics
- Children’s Book Release Day
- What Next?
How To Publish A Children’s Book The Right Way
But now it’s time to present it to the world. Writing the book is a big process, putting it out into the world is another.
I have two pieces of good news for you.
First, you’ve come to the right place! I’ll outline how you can take your book from your computer to the masses. It’s very doable!
Second, publishing a children’s book is very similar to publishing most other books. You’ll follow a process that’s not too different from publishing books for middle grade readers, young adults, and adults. There are nuances around illustrators and formatting when determining how to publish a children’s book though.
There is one twist though, and we’ll get to that in a bit, so just hold tight.
So, where to start?
1. What Type of Children’s Book Are You Making?
There are many, many types of Children’s books. Here are just a few categories:
- Board books (hard cardboard books for infants and young toddlers)
- Picture books (this is the broadest category, but not all children’s books have pictures, especially as children increase in age)
- Concept books (think ABCs, 1-2-3s, colors, etc.)
- Flipbooks (similar to how Disney animation used to be created)
- Bedtime stories (designed to help the child go to sleep peacefully)
- Funny (think The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! by Mo Willems)
- Heartfelt (more for the adult and bonding)
- Lesson Learned (think My No, No, No Day! by Rebecca Patterson)
- Rhyming (many of Dr. Seuss‘s books)
- Repetition (think Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle)
- Graphic comics (think Marvel comics or Bazooka Joe)
Of course, there are many more types of children’s books, but this gives you the beginning of a frame of reference.
2. Writing Your Children’s Book
Before planning and outlining a children’s book, pinpoint exactly who your target audience is. Children, yes, but ideally you want to know the child you’re writing to. And, children usually aren’t the ones buying the books; it’s usually their parent or guardian, a school librarian, or a teacher.
Answer a few of these questions to determine this:
- Are you writing to a little boy or girl?
- What age?
- What do they like to do in their free time?
- Do they live in the city, the suburbs, or rural?
- Are they outgoing or shy?
- How can I make a cover and illustrations that appeal to both children and adults who will buy the book?
Get to know your target audience as well as you can before writing that first word. Then, when you’re writing, keep your audience at the forefront of your mind.
One way to do that is to make a Pinterest account and create a board for your target audience. Pin individuals who look like your target individual, print off the photo, and keep it at your desk.
This will take away the ambiguity of writing to a broad audience and help you hone in on exactly who will be reading your book.
Also keep in mind, depending on the age of your target audience, you may be writing a children’s book that will be read to your audience, rather than read by your audience.
This will broaden the words you can use in your writing, as an adult or older child will likely be reading the book. But remember, your audience still needs to understand what’s being read. Throwing in a word here and for a child to ask about and learn from is sometimes necessary (and even beneficial!) but do this sparingly.
3. Edit the Book Prior to Publishing
After you’ve drafted your children’s book, it’s time to edit. There are many styles of editing, different rules to follow, and stages you can take your book through.
The key aspect to remember is: You’re done editing your book when the edits are no longer making it better.
Especially for children’s books, be aware of the show don’t tell rule. Children have vivid imaginations and it’s important to create the space for them to use these imaginations. If you’re writing a picture book, the illustrations will ideally reinforce your copy, rather than show what your copy does not communicate.
I’ll say it again: Creating a book with illustrations isn’t a free pass to tell your story rather than show it.
Whether your audience is reading for himself or being read to, use the appropriate words to evoke images in your audience’s mind. Let them imagine the story.
Don’t just say “the cat was mad.” Show, through words, the cat stomping away. Your illustrations should act as added engagement, not the story itself.
4. Get Illustrations for Your Children’s Book
Speaking of illustrations, choosing the right person to help you create the images for your books is a crucial part to a successful publication. This section answers the how in getting this process started on your children’s book.
In traditional publishing, something called a book proposal is a prerequisite to publication. This proposal includes the elevator pitch, book synopsis (think back cover copy), longer synopsis, target audience, marketing plan, etc.
Creating a proposal for your children’s book will be a big help when moving forward with illustrations. When you find an illustrator you like, send them your proposal so they have a better feel for what your story is about, as well as the voice of your work, your target audience, and other details that will influence the illustrations.
If you work in graphic design and plan to make the illustrations yourself, having a proposal to reference will still be a great benefit. Even though children’s books have a much lower word count than middle grade books, it’s easy to forget details. A proposal is an organized collection of those details, and therefore extremely useful.
If you want to find an illustrator rather than do it yourself, a simple online search will present you with many options.
Personal referrals can be a great option as well. If you’ve attended writing conferences in the past, reach out to the contacts you made and ask if they know anyone, or if they could point you to someone who may.
Reach out to local colleges. Maybe a graphic design student could illustrate your book as their final project or for their professional portfolio.
Remember, if you’re hiring a professional illustrator, communicate your vision as well as you can, but leave the details to the professional. That’s why you’re hiring them, after all!
A Note on Illustrators
When designing your children’s book illustrations, particularly the front cover, remember who you are marketing to. If you’re writing to six-year-olds, they won’t have the ability to purchase your book. Your marketing tactics will likely be for the parent, grandparent, or guardian who will purchase the book.
That said, you want your cover to be eye-catching to both the buyer and the intended audience. If your book is on a shelf at a Target, Walmart, or Meijer, work with your illustrator to create a cover that will catch the eye of the child and also draw the interest of the adult they are with.
5. Publishing Your Children’s Book on Amazon
When you independently publish on Amazon you have complete control of your book. This is a crucial part of self-publishing your children’s book and something to consider following verbatim.
Here is a brief overview of how to publish your children’s book on Amazon:
- Creating a Kindle Direct Publishing Account
- Crafting Your Book Title & Subtitle
- Writing Your Book Description
- Choosing the Right Keywords
- Selecting the Right Categories
- Uploading Your Manuscript
- Creating a Book Cover
- Pricing Your Book
If you already created a book proposal as we talked about earlier, step two and three are already drafted.
For a more in-depth look, complete with photos and videos of how to do this process step-by-step, simply check out the article on Amazon self-publishing linked above.
6. Pre-Launch Basics
Prior to launching your book, it’s vital to consider how you plan to market your book. This is where the word platform comes in.
A writer’s platform is simply the number of people the writer can influence either online or in person. If you are a professional, expert, or successful entrepreneur in your field, you likely have some type of platform.
Maybe you’re a literature professor at a university. The students in your program could be part of your platform.
Let’s say you’re a mom and run an at-home business, marketing through your Instagram or Facebook profile. Your followers are part of your platform.
Or maybe you love cooking and have a substantial following on Pinterest. You can still relate it to your children’s book. Your followers follow you because they are interested in what you’re doing. Mention the release of your upcoming children’s book, or even write a children’s book on cooking with mom.
This will reach your built-in audience, and likely broaden your audience as you broaden your topics.
So, pre-launch basics for publishing your children’s book:
- Start talking about your children’s book in-person and online
- Share your process
- Support other writers
- Build a book launch team
- Host giveaways to help promote your book
Simply put: create buzz.
This may seem intimidating at first, but if you’re passionate enough about your book to go through the process of dreaming up your idea, writing it down, editing it, creating illustrations, and investing in publishing, you’re passionate enough to share your excitement with those watching.
Invite your friends to be part of your launch team, put a small investment in paid ads inviting people to apply to your launch team, and have fun with it. Launch teams are a fantastic way to get presales and presales are a great way to land on bestseller lists. You’ve got this!
7. Children’s Book Release Day
Take a deep breath. You’re almost there.
You had the idea. You took that idea from dream to draft, draft to edited manuscript, manuscript to published book, and now the world has access.
Don’t stop now.
This is not the time to sit back and see what happens. Think of release day as your book’s graduation day.
Go 100% in. Promote your book on your socials. Encourage your launch team to leave their reviews and share your book online.
Post those special quotes from your favorite pages.
Let that buzz happen.
This is your book after all.
This is also the day to do interviews. In your pre-launch basics, you should’ve planned how to market your book, and this includes release day.
You don’t want to spam your followers, so be aware of not being too salesy, but have a pre-booked lineup of interviews. This can be on social media with fellow writers, or with your local TV station, or if you’re going big, New York interviews.
Prior to interviewing, be aware of potential questions you may be asked. Think through the best way to answer (without sounding too rehearsed) so you can present your book in a way that is concise but beneficial for listeners.
Well, through the sections above you’ve learned how to publish a children’s book, but now is a great time to reflect and consider how to market your new children’s book. If this book was a success, loyal readers will want more. But first, celebrate. Look how far you’ve come.
If readers loved the character in this children’s book, consider creating a series of children’s books.
You may be surprised which characters readers connect with. If the talking dog is getting all the love in reviews and fan mail, consider creating a spinoff story with the dog as the protagonist. You never know where one book may take you.
Many people dream of writing a book.
Some people even talk about writing a book.
Few people succeed in writing a book.
But you just did. You even took that extra step and presented it to the world. Well done.
Before starting your next children’s book, take a few days to take notes:
- Would you work with your illustrator again?
- What worked about your launch team?
- Did you feel rushed at any part of the process? Should you change your timeline?
- How did editing go? Could you benefit from enrolling in a course or taking a class at a community college?
- Did you use beta readers? Did they help?
- Which interviews went well and you’d like to return when you publish another book?
Once you assess your process you’ll be that much more equipped for the next book you write, and the next…and the next.
Being a writer is a journey, and you are well on your way.
Writer, well done!
Need help? Check out this great training made just for Children’s Book Authors!