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

How to Write and Publish a Children's Book

The sky is the limit when it comes to children’s books. With colorful illustrations and sturdy covers, you can easily design and publish a picture book, toddler book, or chapter book that will create beautiful memories for kids and their parents.

Discover tips for writing, book printing, and publishing options.

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Industry Standards for Writing 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. Luckily, if you’re writing a children’s book for the first time, 48 Hour Books makes it easy to publish your book online. Follow these helpful tips on how to write a children's book.

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What's the Age Group for Your Target Audience?

When writing books for kids, it’s important to establish which age group you are targeting. The way you construct your book will be dependent on the age group you select.

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Standard Age Groups for Children’s Books:

  • 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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How Many Pages Should a Children's Book Be?

The number of pages should correlate to the age group you are targeting. The industry standard page count for ages 3‑8 is 32 pages, while ages 5‑10 can range from 32‑64 pages. These numbers are just averages, so if your page count is short or exceeds these standards, then that is fine!

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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 are trying to target a young age group, like babies and toddlers aged 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 for your age group and what they can handle.

Picture books for children ranging from 4‑6 average 1,000 words or less. Books for ages 5‑9 contain around 2,500 words. Chapter books for 7-, 8-, and 9‑year‑olds range from 10,000‑12,000 words. Short novels or middle grade novels are generally 20,000‑25,000 words for ages 10‑12. There are always exceptions to these averages but for first time writers, use these wordcounts as a framework for your story length.

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What’s the Best Font Size?

Rather than the standard 11 or 12pt font for chapter books, a larger font should be used for kids’ books. When laying out your book, try using font sizes 16‑24pt. For the youngest age groups, a larger font is especially important, while older age groups can be smaller.

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Tips for Editing and Refining Your Copy

When editing your children’s book, keep the age demographic in mind. Does that secondary character take away from the main plot? Do you need to swap out a few larger words to make the language easier for kids learning to read? Should that comma go there?

It helps to have a second set of eyes review your content before you send it off to the printers. Have a trusted friend, well-read family member, or even a professional editor review your content. You can ask them to check for any grammatical errors or suggestions on how to refine your story.

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Using Pictures and Illustrations to Aid Storytelling

Illustrations are an important aspect of children’s books. They are essential in capturing the essence of what your book is about. Visual aids will help in a child’s understanding in what the text is demonstrating. If you are not an artist, you may need to hire an illustrator. Think about the look you are going for. It helps to have a color scheme and style in mind, too.

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Printing Options for Kid’s Books

Children's books come in all shapes and sizes. We recommend heading over to a local library or bookstore to review popular titles. This way, you can get a feel for the size, binding type, and overall look and feel you'd like to go for when printing your own children's book.

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Children’s Book Sizes

Choosing the size of your book is your own personal preference, but standard children’s book sizes are 8 x 10 or 10 x 8 (landscape). 48 Hour Books can print both of these sizes. When you go to place your order on our website, you would choose the 8.5 x 11 standard size and in the "customer comments" section on the order, you would say your book is 8x10 and we'll custom trim your books to that size!

Printing tip: When you are creating your files, be sure to set them up for the size you want your book to be. If you want the size of your book to be 8x10, your PDF files must be formatted to 8x10.

Picking the Type of Paper

Our standard paper is a 60# White Offset, which is no additional cost. However, if you have a lot of color photos or images in your book, we recommend our 80# or 100# gloss text paper, which are great for color.

Formatting Tips

Since books for kids usually have a lot of color, formatting can be tricky. You must think about how the text will be displayed on the page in relation to the images or illustrations. Think about if you want to be playful and display the text within the illustrations or if you want to keep a consistent format with the text above or below the pictures.

Book Binding Options – Paperback vs Hardcover

Perfect Bound (paperback):

Children's books usually have a smaller page count, so perfect bound books are a great option. We recommend at least 16 pages for perfect bound books.

Hard Bound (hardcover):

Hardbound books are also an option when printing a children's book due to their durability. We recommend at least 40 pages for hardbound books, but we can normally make it work if your page count is fewer than 40 pages. Just let us know!

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Publishing Your Children’s Book

Is it Better to Self-publish or Get a Publisher?

When it’s time to publish your book, you can choose to self-publish or use traditional publishing. The biggest difference between the two options is self-published authors own the royalties and rights to their book.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Traditional Publishing

Traditionally published authors are typically well-known public figures who have a large following and fans. These already-famous individuals have the highest potential to receive traditional media coverage and bookstore placement. They will typically receive a monetary advance prior to publishing.

However, the whole process of traditional publishing is very long – it can take years to see your book in print and the author has limited control of the creative aspects and marketing. It’s also nearly impossible to get a deal with a publisher. Very few proposals are accepted especially from unknown authors.

The Benefits of Self-publishing

Traditionally published authors are typically well-known public figures who have a large following and fans. These already-famous individuals have the highest potential to receive traditional media coverage and bookstore placement. They will typically receive a monetary advance prior to publishing.

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

We briefly went over the benefits of self-publishing, but how much does it actually cost to go this route?

The total cost will depend largely on what aspects of the self-publishing process you’ll be able to take care of on your own and what you hire someone else to handle for you. Your greatest profit potential is by taking care of as much of the details as possible, personally, and by selling the books yourself through your established networks and channels – whether that be on social media, in bookstores, or on your own website.

The biggest investment you’ll make will be for the actual printing of the books – and again, that can vary significantly depending on:

  • The size of your book
  • The number of pages in your book (color will cost more than black and white)
  • 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
You may want to budget for:
  • An ISBN and barcode ($125) – if you plan to sell your books in bookstores (including online), you’ll need an ISBN
  • 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 for $125, and our most popular cover design service is just $100.
  • Proofreading/Editing fees – again, you can avoid these costs if you do the work on your own (or if you enlist the help of some friends and family members!) Common proofreading fees are 2-5 cents per word, or about $30 per hour.
  • Marketing – on average, new authors spend $50-$250 on marketing their own book. You can also hire a marketing expert to help. The average cost for that is closer to $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 when someone purchases one and be sure to account for this when you are 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 about $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
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Purchase an ISBN Number and Barcode

If you plan on selling your book in stores, you’ll need to get 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.

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Format Your Project or Use a Book Template

If your illustrations are hand drawn, you’ll need to create digital formats by scanning them at a high resolution. Next, use our free book templates to easily format your book. They'll open in Microsoft Word or just about any other word processing program, and they come in four standard sizes: 4.25 x 7, 5.5 x 8.5, 6 x 9 and 8.5 x 11.

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

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Create Your Cover

Covers are extremely important because you want them to catch a child's interest. Therefore, be sure to use a lot of color. 48 Hour Books prints full-color covers for no additional cost!

If you need help constructing your cover, 48 Hour Books has a Create-A-Cover service for $100. With this option, you can choose a general layout, background color and texture, and any additional instructions and photos you want to be included. Email all the photos to us or upload them to your account with your files, and our prepress technicians will assemble your cover using these elements. 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, this is no problem. If you have Adobe InDesign, you can use one of our cover templates to design your cover.

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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 that many writers only dream about. Congratulations! You can now proudly claim the title of a self-published author.

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.