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Working on my first Children's Book.

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Hey guys hope you're all okay :)

I'm a freelance Illustrator, and after many, many draft ideas I feel I finally have a good concept and have started making my first ever children's book :) I think the story, idea and moral is solid, but I have never done this type of thing before, so I was wondering is there any tips any of you could give me in terms of layout or typography?

I have done a draft composition for each of the pages, and decided to go with a square shaped book rather than portrait due to how well the content fits (also two of the pages just have small images in the centre and a single line of text for certain reasons and this looked a lot better in a square.)

It's set in the jungle, and has only animal characters, so for colour pallet I was thinking browns, yellows, oranges and greens. With perhaps tiny bits of red in there.

Is there anything I need to know before I start laying out the pages? I have all the text and draft imagery. The book is aimed at around 7-12 year-olds. Those of you who are good enough to have gotten books published for this age-range, could you help me out by telling me a little about your experience please? What choices did you make, what did you have to change, what was particularly strong about your book?

Thank you xxx
#1 - May 27, 2013, 02:31 AM

Hi there!

You have a lot of questions, but I think we might need some clarity.  You say "children's book" but that's a pretty broad term.  It sounds like you're wanting to create a picture book because of the illustrations.  But then you say ages 7-12, which is really not the age range for picture books, typically.

If you're trying to design your own layout, etc., it also sounds like you might be thinking of self-publishing this?  Instead of submitting it to traditional publishers?

If you're brand new to the world of children's books, I would recommend picking up a great basic guide, like Harold Underdown's book.

If you've read a lot of recently published children's books, maybe you could name a few here that are similar to what you're trying to create.
#2 - May 27, 2013, 05:57 AM

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I agree that if this is your first attempt to make a book -- and if you're both the writer and the illustrator -- that you take some time to get acquainted with the broad categories. As Jaina says, most PBs are aimed at younger kids, perhaps ages 4-8 with the younger end definitely being the bigger share of the audience. The text on most salable PBs is around 500 words, sometimes fewer, but seldom more than 800 and almost "never" 1000 or more.

If you haven't already, I would suggest reading armloads of recent published PBs from your library. Study the spare text, notice what is told in the art that isn't told in the words, the scene changes, where the page turns occur (pacing). I second also studying, maybe concurrent to your PB reading, a good how-to guide for PB authors and/or illustrators.  :goodluck
#3 - May 27, 2013, 07:37 AM
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Anne Bradstreet: America's Puritan Poet

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There is a lot of great info here on the boards already that you might find helpful.

for how-to books for illustrators:

for creating a digital dummy for submission:

for info on dummy layouts and researching & subbing to agents:

and basic advice for new illustrators:

and some general info here as well:
#4 - May 27, 2013, 10:50 AM
« Last Edit: May 27, 2013, 10:53 AM by Artemesia »
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

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My guess is that your target audience is actually 3-6? How I did my book is start with your concepts and figure out how many pages it is going to be. Books take commitment. What I did was I went to a local library and checked out tons of books. I also had a bunch of books at home. Get a feel for what other successful illustrators have done. This done not mean that you are going to be influenced by their art but more of where text is displayed and have large text should be. Look at things like where does the bar code go on the back. How are title pages created. Your cover needs to be strong.
Hope this helps.
#5 - June 24, 2013, 07:32 PM

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The advice that others have been posting is excellent.


Before you put the effort/time into creating your own children's book, make sure you read a LOT of children's books via your local library or children's bookstore to find out what's already out there.

I also strongly advise you to do some research re: target age ranges. Your target age range sounds way too old for picture books.

Good luck,

#6 - July 01, 2013, 07:51 AM - Twitter: @inkyelbows - Instagram: @inkygirl


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