Self Publishing your children’s picture book – on a shoestring!



Self Publishing your children’s picture book – on a shoestring!

You have a fantastic idea for a children’s picture book. Now you want to create and publish it.

The only worry? Money! What is it going to cost you to get that beautiful book in your hands and ready to share with the world?

It can cost a lot to self publish your book via POD (print-on-demand) online publishes such as Lulu or CreateSpace.

Here are ten ideas to help reign in costs.

1.) Select your POD carefully.

CreateSpace has better author prices. The CreateSpace print price for full bleed color books between 24 and 40 pages is just under $6.  You’ll easily pay twice that or more on  With CreateSpace you can easily buy a printed proof or author copy for under $7.50 including shipping costs.  You will pay twice that with

2.) Digital reviewer is your friend.

Use the digital reviewer in CreateSpace to make as many changes as you can; being fussy here can save you a lot of money in proof copies. Ideally you don’t want to be buying more than two proof copies before you are ready to approve your book file for print and publishing.

3.) Don’t recreate your book layout  with each new book. Create a template.

In creating your book, use a template that clearly shows the bleed areas. You need to know which images and text are within the print area, and which bleed outside and will not show in your finished book. You can create your own template once you’ve uploaded a successful .PDF file to CreateSpace.  Simply go back to your Illustrator file you used to make the .PDF, make a copy of that Ai file, blank out the art and text and save the files as a template!

4.) Don’t shed tears over the ‘bleed.’

In a book meant to full bleed, know the bleed and gutter sizes required by your POD, whether CreateSpace, Lulu or another.  Your POD will have a chart that clearly lists the bleed and gutter space needed and this number changes with page count. Getting this right is worth the time and will save not just on proof copies but also on sleep!

5.) KISS it. Keep it simply SHORT.

Tell a shorter story.  For your first story keep your book to the Createspace required minimum of 24 pages.  A 40-page book costs more to print and ship.

6.) Adobe Illustrator likes to text itself.

Don’t carry over your text from Photoshop or Word, type it directly into Illustrator. Imported text can be blurry or have annoying white shadows. If this happens in your book you will be fixing it and ordering another printed proof.

7.) Proof read your book twice then let others proof read it.

Get other eyes to proof read your book both in the CreateSpace digital reviewer, and later in your first printed proof. Ask a friend, relative, writing buddy to proof, or hire a editor. They can help spot those typos, spelling errors, grammar goofs etc.  Don’t stop there!  Ask your reader to make any suggestions or comment they can think of to make the story better.  Ask what the reader liked most and least about your book.  This free or $5 proofing is vital and will not only save money in proof copies, it will make your story better and more marketable.

8.) Mull.  verb –  to think about deeply and at length.

After you’ve done the seven steps above, then sit with, sleep on, or mull over your book. Let your brain and creative juices work.            You may decide to change an image or drawing, add or remove or combine pages, change a word or a whole line of text.  Live with your story for a few days to a week to see if any inspirations come through!

9.) Put your story to the test.

Test your story.  Find a friend or relative’s child that is the appropriate age for your story.  Read the child your story or let their parents read it to their child.  Ask for feedback.  Another test is to offer a child a choice between two or three books, a copy proof of your book being one of the choices.  Try to use books the child may not know, rather than books by the beloved Dr Seuss or other known children’s authors.        If children you know always select the other books, you have to ask the children — and yourself  — why?

Understanding what children want in a story will save you from publishing and buying lots of copies of books that are not what kids want!

10.) Safety in numbers.

My best advise for saving money on writing and self publishing children’s books? Publish more than one! In the short term, you will spend a few dollars more getting two or more books out. In the long term, the more you work with the Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and the processes, the better and faster you will get. Having a selection of books to sell will mean that if one sells better than another it will be an offset in profits!

Bonus Ideas For Saving On Artwork

If you aren’t drawing all your own art, get free, or inexpensive art, that you can use as is or enhance in Adobe Photoshop.

* Ask a talented child to draw some artwork for your book.

* Search for royalty free art on Google Images.

* Hire an artist on

* Get royalty free vintage art at

* Take photos,scan them and use Adobe PhotoShop to turn your photos into sketches. (‎   can show you how.)

Bonus Ideas For Marketing


* Allude to your other books in your next book. You can use an image or a title from your already published book in the next book you create as long as it fits in with the needs of the current story.  I needed a stack of books in my current book, The Artiste.  So that stack of books has the names not only of past books I have published, but a few that are coming out later this year.  I also used a small image of Fleur from my Fleur de lis Spree book, in my book The Artiste. (I needed a dozen artworks in an art show in that story.) This tip is not only a cool insider move, (those who know your work will notice), it also may increase interest in your other work and possibly add sales!


* Tie your book to a cause for good.  For example, my picturebook Soar! includes links to help sea life.


* Collaborate –  Working with an artist who has art shows means more exposure for your story, and moves your book into more live venues beyond online books stores.


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