FAQ: Things I get asked often!

I have written a story for a children's book, what do I do next?

Having over fifteen years of experience designing and illustrating children’s books has helped us refine our book creation process making it very simple and straightforward! In fact, we can assist you with most things, from help and advice with the initial idea should you need it, to designing all aspects of the book itself, and of course - all of the illustrations! We can even advise and support you when dealing with printers and publishers! 🙂

Here’s an example of a 7 step process to give you an idea of how we can help bring your book to life!

Step #1: Develop your story

Step #2: Storyboard/layout

Step #3: Sketches

Step #4: Illustrations

Step #5: Digital proof and review

Step #6: Choose printing options

Step #7: Receive your book

Please visit our Children’s book illustration page for more information on our process and examples of our work.

What exactly happens when you work with Happydesigner?

  1. At Happydesigner, we firmly believe that creating any book is a fun and exciting adventure, and we strive to make it as enjoyable as possible for each of our clients throughout the process. To ensure that each project reaches its maximum potential, it’s vital that we have a good understanding of the story, its characters and its focus. Whilst we are happy to have an initial discussion about your project over the phone, for us to provide you with a quote, we request that the story and any supporting project brief be sent via email for us to review. It would also be helpful at this stage to give us an idea of the illustration style you prefer, and to help you decide, please visit our “Children’s Book Illustration” page for examples of our previous work. Once we have thoroughly assessed your project, we will get back to you with costings and a potential timeframe.
    1. Once we have agreed on the details of the project and confirmed via email exchanges, we will send you our formal Acceptance of Commission document along with our standard Terms & Conditions. Roughly a week before the scheduled start date, the deposit will be due (usually 50% of the agreed fee), and we will issue an invoice for this amount around this time. To help the process begin smoothly, please ensure that this amount is paid as soon as possible. Work will commence around the date agreed, providing payment has been received.
      1. Let’s Get Started. Before work begins on your project, there are several essential elements that we need to have received from you in advance. By far, the most important is a final and professionally proofread draft of your story, preferably in the form of a Word document. A detailed brief is necessary as it will be extremely helpful in allowing us to understand the project and what you are hoping to achieve in greater depth. A biography of the main characters is key, too, as this will help us understand more about them. And, if any of the characters are based on anyone in ‘real-life’, please provide us with a reference photo or two.  We also need to be made aware of any illustrative requirements, particularly letting us know if there is anything you definitely do or don’t want to include within the illustrations. If there is anything specific you wish to have depicted, please explain this in as much detail as possible and preferably provide us with some reference photos. All of this will help avoid unnecessary and costly work and reduce the time required in the editing stages to a minimum. To assist in collating all of this information and keep it in one, easily accessible place, we will send you a Checksheet to complete and return to us. This form can be added to or edited at any time before work begins. 
        1. Storyboard/Sketch Building. This is the stage where you should very carefully check the sketches/rough book template and make any comments or suggestions. Each commission we undertake is different; therefore, this stage will occasionally differ to allow for this. We imagine, visualise and illustrate every story we are commissioned to complete in our own unique way. Whilst we will always do our best to encompass your wishes in respect of illustrative content wherever possible, the key to us producing our high-quality unique books is to have the creative freedom to do so. Firstly, a text-based layout will be built, which will be sent to you to ensure that you are happy with the flow of your story. At this point, we will also look to begin working on the initial design of the main character(s). A storyboard of how your book will look will be drawn up for our own internal use, and we will then start to sketch. When completed, we will send these sketches to you for review. To enable us to provide the best service possible, we allow up to a maximum of THREE rounds of revisions within the package at this stage, as it is vital to ensure that the basic book layout and sketches are correct. Please note that within our basic book creation packages, the revisions allow for edits and adjustments to the sketches, but any significant illustration changes or complete redraws may incur an extra charge. Further modifications after the three included in the process or any illustration changes requested after this stage will incur additional charges. Therefore, it is very important at this stage to make sure that you are honest with us and let us know in clear terms what you want to change, if anything, about the sketches. Otherwise, any changes to the illustrations requested later in the process will be chargeable.
          1. Illustration Development. The stage that can take the longest time to complete, and also when we get to colour everything! Please bear in mind that this stage usually requires anywhere between 4 to 6 weeks of work, and sometimes even longer, depending on the complexity of the illustrations. We will do our best to advise you at the earliest opportunity if your illustrations require significantly longer than this to complete.
            1. Book Generation. The book comes to life! This stage involves importing the images and beginning editing and will take approximately 2 weeks to complete.
              1. Payment/Final Files. Once we are nearing the stage where the illustrations will be completed and ready for the book to be compiled, the payment of the balance (usually 50% of the agreed fee) will be due. As soon as this payment is received and the work has been completed, we will send the finished proof for you to review. Please understand that this payment is to be received first, as the files we send you will be the completed book, ready for final editing.
                1. Once you have received the book and have examined it thoroughly, we will then work with you to edit out any little errors where gremlins may have crept in, such as typos/imperfections etc (note: significant illustration changes cannot be made at this stage). These edits are crucial to the finishing of the book, and we always advise you to take your time at this point to carefully check everything. We will work with you as best we possibly can to find and eliminate any issues at this stage, but please understand that the final sign-off is your responsibility (another good reason why you should have your final draft story professionally proofread!). We are aware that some things can evade even the most critical eye, so we allow for TWO rounds of final edits included in the package pricing, but any further edits or alterations requested after this will be chargeable.
                  1. And to Finish… After completion of the final editing stage, we request that you sign off the project in writing, usually by email. Once we have this, we will compile and provide you with all the final print files so that you will have everything you need to arrange to have the book printed.

                  I'm Self-Publishing. How many copies of my book can I have?

                  book-deliveryAs many as you like!

                  Whether its 10, 1000, or 10,000 copies, you can arrange for your printer to print any number of books you require. 

                  Top tip! When printing books, the more copies you have printed at one time, the less the price is per book, but please remember that you have to find enough room to store them! Also, I ALWAYS recommend having a small print run to start with, maybe just 20 or so, in order to CHECK that they are 100% correct. It's very wise to do this before spending thousands of pounds on having loads printed only to then find an error, as, even with the very best of checking, double checking and triple checking, errors seem have a funny way of creeping in!


                  How long will my book take to make?

                  Depends on a few factors, including:
                  • The length of your story
                  • The style/complexity of the illustrations
                  • The amount of pictures required

                  As a rough idea, the average book (28 - 36 pages) takes around 2-3 months to complete from start to finish.

                  More complex books (i.e. More pages, detailed illustrations, etc.) can take up to 4-5 months to complete.

                  What do you need from me to produce my book?

                  To make things as quick and smooth as possible, I need the following items from you to get the ball rolling:

                  • A completed and fully proofread copy of your story
                  • Descriptions of your characters
                  • An idea of the illustration style required (if you have a preference)
                  • A descriptive paragraph for the back cover
                  • A dedication for inside the book (if you wish to have one)
                  • A price for the book, and would you like this added to the back cover?
                  • Do you have the ISBN? If so, I can add that in and also generate the barcode to add to the design for you. 


                  Can I keep asking for more edits and changes?

                  I work very hard with customers on a very small budget compared to most other illustrators. I offer 3 rounds of edits at both the sketch stage AND the final text editing stage. However... if you keep sending through more and more edits during the process, this will result in me having to invoice for extra time, as there is only a limited amount of time I can allow for editing within the package price I offer.

                  Do you have Terms and conditions?

                  I have a detailed Terms and conditions page which you can access here

                  What is an ISBN and where can I get one?


                  ISBN stands for: The International Standard Book Number. This is your books unique product identity. It's essential if you want to sell your books, as it aids the listing, discovery and distribution of your books.

                  You don't HAVE TO have one, nor is it a legal requirement. Publishers mainly use them, as do booksellers and libraries for ordering, listing and stock control. 

                  IF you do want to add an ISBN to your book its simple. The process is easy and you can buy an ISBN online. 

                  The ISBN agency in the UK used to be Whitakers, but they were bought and combined with Book data to create Neilesen Book data. They manage the process of allocating ISBNs as well as several things that you will need to know about, and use, as we get further into your project.

                  The URL for the ISBN Store is: https://www.nielsenisbnstore.com 

                  The email address to contact us is: isbn.agency@nielseniq.com

                  Can you put a barcode on the back for me?

                  YEP! 🙂 computer-wt

                  I sure can. All I need is for you to send me the ISBN and I can generate the barcode for you and apply it to your books before it heads off to the printer. 🙂

                  What are the options for self-publishers when it comes to getting the book 'out there'?

                  Traditional publishing deals are much harder to come by these days, and the majority of people now go down the self-publishing route. There are several companies that may be interested in offering you such a deal (also known as 'vanity publishing'). They will usually require you to submit your book in a completed format for them to assess prior to confirming their interest. They have the industry contacts and will get your book into the marketplace, but bear in mind that this will come at a cost to you, and there may be conditions attached to the deal for you to consider before accepting the deal.

                  You do not, however, need to publish your book through a publisher, and you can take steps to get your book to market yourself, although it’s important to be aware that this can be a very time-consuming and confusing process. If you are happy to have your book as a 'print-on-demand' title, or as an eBook, you could always check out the various online companies such as Lulu, Amazon, Kindle publishing & Ingram Sparks. It’s worth pointing out that these companies can be complicated to deal with if you are not familiar with the terminology, and the printed books may not be of a similar quality to that of a traditional printer.

                  What is a storyboard?

                  A storyboard is created to:

                  • Break up the story into pages
                  • Visualise each page (With illustration and text)
                  • Plan out the sequence of the story
                  • Ensure the story flows correctly

                  As the creator of your book, producing a storyboard in the early stages allows me to plan out your story visually, ensuring the illustrations and text sit well together, and we have a clear direction of the story from beginning to end.


                  How much will it cost to print my book?

                  Print prices vary depending on the amount of pages/material/size of the book. If budget is an issue, we can suggest cost-effective printing options, or if you are aiming to produce a top-quality, high-end book, I can help you achieve that too. Please note, however, that we do not print anything ourselves, and you will be dealing with independent printers.


                  What printing options do I have for my book?


                  There are lots of different print options available to you, and yes, that bit can be bamboozling when you start! But never fear, we can assist you to decide on the best printing options to suit the style, story and budget of your book.

                  Printing: If you are self-publishing and require printing, please have a look at these guys for large quantities quotes: www.pureprint.com. It’s always worth asking around and finding which option suits you best, but these guys are top industry professionals and produce EXCELLENT QUALITY books 🙂!

                  Sizes: Some standard sizes of picture books include A4 (Portrait or Landscape) and 21cm x 21cm square, but other sizes are available depending on budget.

                  How many pages do you recommend for a Childrens book?


                  In between 28 and 36 is the most common number of pages for an average children's picture book.

                  However, your book can have any number of pages. As long as the total number of pages is a multiple of 4 (because of the printing process).

                  Can you recommend a proof reader?

                  Yes I sure can!!! happydesigner-inking

                  Happydesigner can provide you with details of dedicated and professional proofreaders. Check out our proofreading page.

                  I'd like to produce a series of books, how do I go about this?


                  Producing a series of books is a fantastic journey and whilst it can be an exciting process, it requires some planning too. Key factors to consider are:

                  Number of books/stories

                  Are they going to be released in smaller sets?

                  The cost to produce a series

                  We also offer a promotional package. These include colouring sheets, online promo images, book promotion images, launch leaflet designs, activity sheet designs, promo stickers, A4 or A3 poster designs, etc.


                  A few of my previous clients

                  happydesigner clients

                  • “I am so happy that I found Sarah to bring my book to life. Sarah took the time to listen and really made the effort to make sure that I was happy and her brilliant designs translated the words of my book into a beautiful visual story." - Jodie Jackson

                  • "Sarah understood what I was looking for and produced a fantastic logo for me.  She is very approachable and friendly – I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her” Katie Jarvis, Fancy Prints

                  • "She has a keen eye for the quirky detail, she is punctual and a joy to work with. I simply cannot praise her enough.” - Clickety Books

                  • “I was so nervous ringing you as i've never done anything like this before, but you were so friendly and put me completely at ease.” - Donna Purvis

                  • Sarah is professional, friendly and very knowledgeable, she delivered 100% with a new logo that was spot on! We can't recommend her enough!” - Lucy @ Get Active

                  • "The logos are absolutely fantastic, they are spot on brief and are even better than we imagined!Paolo Pini, Step Up To Languages

                  • “Sarah’s advice has been invaluable, she could have just illustrated my first attempt but knew there was more to be had from the story and pointed me towards the right help." – Darron Jon Love

                  • "I hope my recommendation will persuade you to use Sarah! I cannot fault her, for her professionalism, enthusiasm and talent." - Michelle Hawkins, Director: The Flying DoDo

                  • "Outstanding illustrator with exceptional talent. You couldn’t wish for a better artist, as it would be impossible to find. Such a spectacular gifted designer who is always happy!" - Rachel Lake

                  • "Sarah loves her work, her friendly ‘can do’ approach is reassuring whether you’re on your first or tenth book."  – Darron Jon Love
                  • “When we first contacted Sarah, Dainty Dizzy was a concept;  an idea to be shaped into a brand.  Sarah took this idea and illustrated it perfectly….and our brand look and feel was born.” – Dainty Dizzy

                  • "Sarah quickly understood what I wanted to achieve and the look I was after. Sarah kept me informed and brought me into the whole process” – Darron Jon Love

                  • Sarah really understood the brief right from the beginning and has been able to translate my ideas and mental images, that at times were quite specific, into magical illustrations that are better than I’d ever hoped. She has absolutely nailed it!” – Gareth Edwards

                  • “Sarah was lovely to work with and keen to make sure that the illustrations were a perfect match for the story. It’s obvious that she really cares about her work and wants you, the author, to be happy with the final results.” – Marion Adams

                  • "Sarah is amazing - very fast at understanding the requirements, great pictures and never too much trouble. I recommend her wholeheartedly" - Fernando Caldeira-Saraiva
                  • "I can’t speak highly enough of Sarah! She has brought Roopert Snoopert to life in a way I could never have imagined.
                    The illustrations are fantastic! Sarah keeps you update with progress from the draft stage right through to sign off." - Paul Micklewright
                  • "It's been great working with Sarah as our illustrator! She's been so great in taking all feedback on board and delivers work of the highest standard. Would 100% recommend :-)" - Michelle Gibbs, Doodle Dozen Series
                  • "I am absolutely thrilled with the colours and love the look and overall feel of the book, its so different and unique, thank you so much"
                  • "WOW! Love it! I'm so happy with what you've produced- and with so little input from me. FANTASTIC!!! THANK YOU” - Darren Pascoe: 'Red Rabbit Book'

                  • Sarah is an extremely talented designer and illustrator. She has that rare gift of being able to find something in your business or character that you never knew existed" Craig Green

                  • "These posters and flyers are perfect”
                    - Julia G, Manager at the Truro branch of Pets at Home

                  • "Thank you both so much for your hard work and dedication. Sarah is a fantastic illustrator! It is nice to know I have worked with someone who is so professional at her job, and will certainly remember her for the future if I need another book illustrating."
                  • “Books arrived safely today- I am absolutely delighted with how they look – I can’t thank you enough – you’ve made my dream come true :)” – Jane Collins

                  • “Sarah’s re-branding of my business has given it a much needed fresh and quirky feel. She provided us with an extremely friendly courteous and efficient service and injected an energy into the project, that only Sarah could.” – Discovery Leisure

                  • Sarah has a great insight into how to best produce a children’s book and is really helpful in getting you there! I really cannot recommend Sarah enough – brilliant designer, friendly and professional. The experience has been a great one!“ – Jodie Jackson
                  • “Thank you, Sarah, for the amazing work you did on the illustrations for my book. Working with you has been so easy thanks to your enthusiasm, flexibility, support, professionalism and, of course, the amazing quality of your work." – Stuart Neath