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Self-Publish header Self-Publish header Children's Book

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Publish a Children's Book

Children’s books offer many opportunities for creativity. When you use colorful illustrations and engaging copy for picture books, toddler books or chapter books, you can create beautiful memories for kids and their parents.

Here we offer step-by-step tips for writing, printing and publishing a children’s book.

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How to Write a Children's Book

Have you ever found yourself thinking, "I want to write a children’s book, but where do I start?" We hear this question quite often. If you’re writing a children’s book, 48 Hour Books makes it easy to self-publish. We have a variety of services to assist self-publishing children’s book authors. We also have a customer service team to assist you with any questions.

We developed a step-by-step guide to writing a children's book, giving you an easy path to follow.

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1. Determine the Age Group for Your Target Audience

When writing books for kids, it’s important to establish the age group of your audience. This helps you make a variety of decisions. The standard age groups for children’s books are:

  • Ages 0‑3: Babies and toddlers
  • Ages 4‑6: Pre-K through 1st grade
  • Ages 7‑9: 2nd grade through 4th grade
  • Ages 10‑12: 5th grade through 7th grade
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2. Determine Page and Word Count Parameters

How many pages should a children’s book have? The number of pages should correlate to your target age group.

Below is the industry standard page counts for children’s books. These numbers are just averages. If your page count is short or exceeds these standards, that’s fine!

  • Ages 3‑8: 32 pages
  • Ages 5‑10: 32-64 pages

We are often asked: what is the average word count for a children’s book? The philosophy of less is more applies when writing books for kids. If you’re targeting a young age group, like babies and toddlers age 0 3, you should rely heavily on pictures, rather than text. You may even choose to create a picture book with no text. The older the age group, the more text you can include. Think about the average attention span of your age group.

These numbers below are suggested word counts for children’s books. Again, these are only guidelines.

  • Ages 4‑6: 1,000 words or less
  • Ages 5‑9: 2,500 words
  • Chapter books for ages 7‑9: 10,000‑12,000 words
  • Short novels or middle-grade novels for ages 10‑12: 20,000‑25,000
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3. Write and Edit Your Children’s Book

When writing and editing your children’s book, keep your age demographic in mind. When developing your plot and storyline, do it within the context of your audience’s experience level.

Do you need to swap out larger words to make the language easier for kids learning to read? Is a secondary character taking away from the main plot?

Editing is the refining process of writing, and it’s an important step. Have a second set of eyes review your content before you print - a trusted friend, well-read family member or even a professional editor can review your content. Ask them to check for grammatical errors or provide suggestions to refine your story. 48 Hour Books recommends using a professional editor, and we offer tips and contacts here.

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4. Format Your Children's Book

48 Hour Books offers free book templates that make it easy to format your book. The templates open in Microsoft Word or nearly any word processing program and come in four standard sizes: 4.25 x 7, 5.5 x 8.5, 6 x 9 and 8.5 x 11 inches.

Simply type your book directly into the template and set it up as you choose. Be sure to select the right page size, and when you're done formatting, convert the file to PDF format. You'll upload the PDF file directly with your order on our website. If you get stuck or have any questions, we're just a phone call away: 800 231 0521.

If your book includes hand-drawn illustrations, you’ll need to create digital formats by scanning them at a high resolution.

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5. Design Your Children's Book

Illustrations, design and even font choice are important aspects of any book, but perhaps even more so for children’s literature. Some children’s books rely heavily or entirely on illustrations and others use fonts and the copy itself as the main design element.

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If you’re not an artist, consider hiring an illustrator. It helps to have a color scheme or a style you hope to achieve. 48 Hour Books offers book design services, including in-house design assistance.

We recommend a larger font for kids’ books, rather than the standard 11 or 12 point font used for adult books. Try using font sizes between 16 24 point. For the youngest age groups, a larger font is especially important. Books aimed at older age groups can use a smaller font.

When formatting your children’s book, consider how the text will be displayed on the page in relation to images or illustrations. You could be playful and display the text within the illustrations or images, or display text above or below the images in a more traditional manner.

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6. Create Your Cover

Covers help engage a child's interest. 48 Hour Books prints full-color covers for no additional cost!

If you need help designing your children’s book cover, 48 Hour Books offers a Create-A-Cover service for $100. With this option, choose a general layout, background color and texture and add additional instructions and photos. Email photos to us or upload them to your account with your files, and our prepress technicians assemble your cover. The $100 is a one-time fee, so if you receive your cover proof and decide you want to change an element on it, such as the background color, you can! If you have Adobe InDesign, you can use one of our cover templates to design your cover.

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7. Determine the Size of Your Children’s Book

The size of your children’s book is your personal preference, but standard children’s book sizes are 8 x 10 or 10 x 8 (landscape). 48 Hour Books can print both sizes. When placing your order on our website, choose the 8.5 x 11 standard size and in the Customer Comments section of the order, note your book will be 8 x 10, and we'll custom trim your books to that size!

When creating your files, make sure they match the intended finished size of your book. For example, if you want your children’s book to be 8 x 10, your PDF files must be formatted to 8 x 10.

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8. Choose Paper and Binding Style for Your Children’s Book

What paper do you want to use for your children’s book?

At 48 Hour Books, our standard paper is a 60# white offset, at no additional cost. However, if you have many color photos or images in your book, we recommend our 80# or 100# gloss text paper.

What type of binding do you want to use for your children’s book?

Either hardcover or perfect bound (softcover) books are great options. Softcover books are portable and economical to print. Hardcover books offer the best durability.

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9. Print Your Book

Easily place an order with 48 Hour Books by selecting your book specifications and filling out your contact information. Upload your PDF file and follow the rest of the steps to complete your order. If you have any questions, we’re happy to assist.

Now it’s time to celebrate, because you have just finished publishing a children’s book! From the initial idea to content creation and illustrations, this is a major accomplishment many writers only dream about. Congratulations! You can now proudly claim the title of a self-published author.

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How Much Does It Cost to Self-Publish a Children's Book?

If you wonder what is the cost to self-publish a children’s book, there are various factors to consider.

Taking care of as many details as possible yourself, and selling the books yourself through your established networks and channels – whether that be on social media, in bookstores or on your own website – is most cost effective.

child reading a book

The biggest investment you’ll make will be printing, and that can vary significantly depending on:

  • The size of your book
  • The number of pages in your book
  • The number of copies you print (you’ll typically pay less per book if you order in larger quantities)
  • The other printing options you select, such as black and white or color
You may want to budget for:
  • ISBN and barcode ($125). If you plan to sell your books in bookstores (including online), you’ll need an ISBN. When you print with 48 Hour Books, you can easily buy an ISBN and barcode package in singles or blocks of 10, 100, or 1,000.
  • Design fees. You can avoid these if you do the work on your own, but you may decide to hire a graphic designer to help with the layout of your inside pages or book cover. Our expert graphic design team at 48 Hour Books can do basic formatting starting at $125, and our most popular cover design service is just $100.
  • Proofreading/Editing fees. you can avoid these costs if you do the work on your own (or if you enlist the help of friends and family members!). Common proofreading fees are 2-5 cents per word or about $30 per hour. Check out 48 Hour Books' recommended editing resources here. Do a final check using our proofreading instructions.
  • Marketing. On average, new authors spend $50-$250 on marketing their book. You can also hire a marketing expert to help. The average cost for that is approximately $1,000.
  • Shipping. 48 Hour Books ships using UPS, and shipping fees can be calculated easily. Think about how you plan to distribute your books and account for this when you’re setting the price for your book. Shipping costs range significantly but can add several dollars to your per book costs.
  • Website fees. You’ll probably want to create your own website where you can sell your books and post updates or contact information. There are lots of sites these days that provide beautiful and fairly easy-to-use templates if you pay a small monthly hosting fee – averaging $20-30 per month.

If you’re not printing tens (or hundreds) of thousands of copies, the average children’s book costs approximately $5-$10 per book to produce. 48 Hour Books provides instant quotes using our instant cost calculator, so you can determine what your custom project will cost, with no obligations and no hidden fees.

Cheerful young mother communicating with her daughter

How to Self-Publish a Children’s Book with 48 Hour Books

If you’ve made it this far, you already know it’s possible to publish your own children’s book and you’re ready to get started. Follow the next steps to learn how easy the process is when you partner with 48 Hour Books.

Cheerful young mother communicating with her daughter

Let 48 Hour Books help you print your own children's book!

Whether you have a simple question about your order or you need full support with graphic design or editing, we connect you with the professionals who can help. Your custom book printing experience will be a pleasant one with our friendly and available customer service.