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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Book Generation. The book comes to life! This stage involves importing the images and beginning editing and will take approximately 2 weeks to complete.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
As 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!
Can you recommend a publisher?
How long will my book take to make?
- 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?
Do you have Terms and conditions?
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Can you put a barcode on the back for me?
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.
Can you recommend someone to help me publish?
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?
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.