Designing Children’s Book
Creating a children’s book is an amazing journey. It’s not just about the story, but also about how it looks. The size of the book, the pictures, the colors, and even the type of letters you use—they all matter. They need to work together to catch the eye of the kids you’re writing for. This guide will take you through everything you need to know about making your children’s book look great.
Kickstarting Your Book Design
Think about what your book will look like. What colors and fonts will make your cover and pages stand out? Before you get into the details, decide on the size of your book. After that, you can start playing around with your illustrations. But a great starting point is to make a storyboard.
Storyboarding: Where to Begin
A storyboard is your first step. It’s both your launching pad and your guide. With a storyboard, you plan out your book’s look. It helps you decide where to put pictures in your book. Don’t underestimate this step—a well-thought-out storyboard leads to a book that really draws kids in.
What’s a Storyboard and How Do You Make One?
A storyboard is like a visual plan of your book. It’s a tool for you and your illustrator to figure out where and how many pictures you’ll need. To create one, go through your story and mark where you want illustrations. Some authors use rectangles to break down their story into smaller bits. In each rectangle, jot down notes or sketch ideas. This becomes your visual plan.
Tools for Crafting Your Storyboard
You have a couple of options for making your storyboard. If you’re going DIY with your book, you can use:
· Good old paper and pencil. It might sound basic, but it works wonders.
· Digital tools like Canva or Adobe Creative Suite. These let you create a storyboard template and add your ideas directly.
· If you’re with a publisher, they might have special tools for you. But if you’re on your own, these methods work just fine.
The Time It Takes to Storyboard
Storyboarding isn’t a race. It’s key to communicating with your illustrator. Rushing it could mean your pictures don’t quite hit the mark. The time it takes depends on your story’s length and complexity. Remember, each scene and character needs care to develop, so take your time and enjoy this creative step.
Picking the Right Look: Layout, Colors, and Fonts
Choosing the layout, colors, and fonts for your book is where the fun really starts. This is when your book starts to come alive. These elements shape your book’s overall look and feel, so think about them carefully as you put your book together.
Simplifying the Layout of Your Children’s Book
After your storyboard is ready, it’s time to think about how your book will look. If you’re self-publishing, you’ll usually work closely with your illustrator on this. Let’s break down some key points to consider.
Deciding on Illustrations and Text Layout
First, think about how many pictures you want and how big they should be. In a picture book for younger kids, you’ll want more and bigger illustrations compared to a book for older kids. Next, figure out where your words will go on each page. Will they be above, below, or around the pictures? Also, decide if you’ll use an illustration from inside the book for your cover or create something new.
How Colors Influence Your Book
Colors really shape how kids see your book. Bright colors are great for really young kids—they grab their attention and stimulate their minds. For older kids, you can use a wider range of colors to help convey different emotions, like yellow for happiness or blue for calm.
Font Styles and Sizes: Making the Right Choice
The font you choose is super important. Younger kids who are just starting to read need big, clear letters. Older kids, who can handle more complex stories, can read smaller fonts. There’s a ton of fonts out there, so pick one that fits your book’s vibe.
Understanding Trim Sizes for Children’s Books
Trim size is basically how big your book is. It’s important because it affects how your book feels to your readers and how your illustrations fit. Younger kids usually need larger books. If you’ve got a lot of detailed pictures, a bigger book might be better. Your publishing method matters too. Self-publishing often means choosing from standard sizes, while traditional publishers might offer more options.
Examples of Trim Sizes
You can get creative with your book’s size, but keep in mind your budget and publishing method. Here are some common sizes:
· 12” x 9” or 9” x 7” for board books (for the littlest readers)
· 10” x 10” or 10” x 8” for picture books
· 6” x 9” for chapter books (with more text)
Why Knowing Average Trim Size Matters
Knowing common trim sizes helps a lot. If you start designing your book without a publisher, having an idea of standard sizes means fewer changes later. For example, if you’re making a board book, you might dream of a huge 16” x 16” book. But if you end up needing to print a standard size, like 12” x 9”, you’ll have to adjust your design a lot. Starting with the standard size in mind saves time and effort.
Understanding ‘Safe Area’ in Children’s Book Design
When you’re putting together a children’s book, you’ll often hear about the ‘safe area’. It’s the part of your page where your text and pictures should be. This is because the printer needs space around the edges for margins and binding. Your publisher or self-publishing platform will give you a template showing the overall boundary and the ‘safe area’. The space outside this area gives the printer room to work without messing up your designs.
Formatting Illustrations: How to Do It Right
Now that your storyboard, colors, fonts, and book size are set, it’s time to format your book. This includes everything, even the title page, which might not have much on it. Formatting illustrations is straightforward once you know the basics.
Key Considerations for Formatting Illustrations
When formatting illustrations, think about how much picture versus text you want on each page. Some pages might be mostly picture with a little text, while others might have more words and a simple background image. Also, consider the book’s size. You don’t want too much on a small page or leave a large page feeling empty. Your illustrator will often have software to experiment with different layouts, helping you create the perfect page.
Tools of the Trade for Book Illustrators
Illustrators have their favorite tools. Some love the classic pen and paper, but with e-books rising in popularity, computer programs are becoming a big deal. Many illustrators use drawing tablets, which are like digital paper, allowing them to save and modify their work easily. Some common software tools include:
· Adobe Illustrator
· Adobe Photoshop
· Corel Painter
These tools help illustrators bring your book to life.
Formatting Steps for Your Illustrations
Each children’s book is unique, so there’s no one-size-fits-all way to format illustrations. But here are some general steps:
· Get the book template from your publisher or printer.
· Check the template for the safe area and image quality requirements.
· Arrange each page in the template, adjusting text and picture sizes to get the look you want.
· Ensure all text and images are within the safe area.
Guide to Promoting Your Children’s Book
Getting Started with Self-Publishing
To make it as a children’s book author in the self-publishing world, you need to get savvy with marketing. It’s all about figuring out who will love your book and then reaching out to them. Whether it’s your first book or you’re a seasoned writer, your marketing strategy can vary. You can even start laying the groundwork for marketing your book before you’ve written the first word!
Identifying Your Young Readers
First things first, who’s going to read your book? Pinning down your target audience is crucial. Once you know who they are, you can tailor your marketing efforts to catch their eye. Do your homework, find out what your audience likes, and then watch as your sales start climbing.
Age Matters: Who is Your Book For?
When choosing your audience, consider the age group. Are you crafting stories for toddlers, forging tales for middle-grade readers, or delving into more intricate narratives for young adults? Recognizing the age of your readers is key to making sure they connect with your story.
Tailor to Their Interests
Kids have varied interests, and these can change a lot as they grow. The theme and story of your book should resonate with what attracts your specific age group. This knowledge not only guides your writing but also where and how you market your book.
The Role of Market Research
How do you know if your book will be a hit? That’s where market research comes in. It helps you gauge if there’s a demand for your book. If you find a gap in the market that your book fills, you’re likely onto a winner!
Choosing the Right Age Range
Figuring out the right age range for your book is a bit of an art. Consider the complexity of your story, the balance of text and illustrations, and the length. Picture books are perfect for tiny tots, middle-grade books dive into more complex stories and characters, and young adult novels tackle intricate themes and ideas.
Building Your Author Brand
Lastly, growing your following is essential. It’s not just about selling books; it’s about establishing yourself as a credible children’s author. A solid following boosts your visibility and helps you reach a wider audience, setting you up for a successful writing career.
Why a Following Matters
Want to thrive as a children’s book author? You need fans. Creating an author brand makes it easier for your readers to find and follow your work. When you have a solid fan base, they’ll actively look for your books, connect with your characters, or adore your illustrator’s style. This isn’t just about book sales; it’s about becoming a well-respected name in children’s literature.
The Advantage of an Agent
Thinking about taking your author career up a notch? Consider getting a literary agent. They’re like your book’s personal coach—helping with everything from cover design to editing, ensuring your book is top-notch. Plus, they can be your gateway to landing a publishing deal.
Crafting Your Author Platform
An author platform is your marketing megaphone. It amplifies your presence, helping you reach more readers and sell more books. Your platform should showcase your expertise, highlight your previous works (even if they’re in a different genre), maintain your existing reader base, and leverage social media for wider reach.
Marketing Your Book in the Digital World
In today’s digital age, marketing your book online is crucial. Most people discover and buy books on the internet. A strong online presence can significantly increase your book sales.
Key Steps for Online Marketing
• Create a Book Website: This is your book’s home on the internet. It’s where readers can learn about your book and about you as an author.
• Start a Blog: Share your journey, inspirations, or even short stories and poems. You can write it yourself or collaborate with a professional blogger.
• Social Media Savvy: Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are powerful tools for reaching out to your audience (and their parents). Share updates, engage with your followers, and spread the word about your book.
Leveraging Social Media for Your Book
Social media is a fantastic tool for promoting your children’s book. It’s a place where people love to share their experiences. When your book has a social media presence, your readers can share photos of themselves enjoying your book and leave reviews. This kind of engagement is not only free but also an effective way to boost your book sales.
The Power of a Good Back Cover
Whether it’s a printed book or an e-book, an appealing back cover is essential. It’s the first thing potential readers see, so it’s worth investing in a professional illustrator to make it stand out. This is a crucial step in your book’s marketing journey.
In-Person Marketing: A Personal Touch
In-person marketing offers a unique opportunity to connect with your audience directly. Understanding your readers can help you tailor future books to their interests. Whether you’re self-publishing or with a publishing house, face-to-face marketing is invaluable.
Where to Market Your Book Face to Face
• Book Launch Events: These gatherings are perfect for meeting readers and sharing behind-the-scenes insights about your book.
• Book Readings: By reading your book aloud, you can convey the emotions and emphasis exactly how you envisioned them. It’s also a chance to share your creative process and connect with your audience.
• Book Fairs: Schools, libraries, and bookstores often host book fairs. They’re an ideal place to engage with readers and sell your book, even if there’s a cost involved.
The Benefits of Book Readings
Book readings aren’t just about reading your story aloud; they’re an interactive experience. They allow you to highlight key aspects of your book, share your inspirations, and engage with your audience in a meaningful way.
Utilizing Writers’ Organizations
Writers’ organizations are excellent resources, offering advice, support, and information on marketing opportunities like events and book fairs. They are particularly useful for networking and learning about new marketing strategies, whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned author.
The Long Game in Children’s Book Marketing
Success in the world of children’s books is a long-term endeavor. It requires careful planning, patience, and persistence. Think about your long-term goals, whether it involves writing multiple books, hiring a literary agent, or self-publishing.
Pre-Book Launch Strategies
Even before you start writing your book, there are steps you can take to pave the way for success:
• Conduct Market Research: Make sure there’s a demand for your book and that you’re not entering an oversaturated market.
• Join a Writers’ Organization: Get advice on publishing options, find the right illustrator, and learn about the ins and outs of the industry.
• Create an Author Website and Social Media Presence: Start building interest in your book before you even begin writing.
• Read Success Stories: Learn from other authors’ experiences to stay motivated and on track.
Seeking Professional Help
Whether you’re working with a literary agent, a publishing house, or going the self-publishing route, don’t hesitate to seek help. Writers’ organizations, professional editors, and marketing experts can offer invaluable assistance in making your children’s book a success.