FAQ: Things I get asked often!

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

padIt's actually very straight forward! We can do most things for you, from help and advice with the initial idea, to creating the book itself, and of course - the illustrations! We can also advise and support you when you are dealing with the printers! 🙂 

I have outlined my easy 7 step process to give you an idea of how we can 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

For more information on my process and examples of our work, please visit my Children's book illustration page.

What exactly happens when you work with Happydesigner?

  1. Our Process

    1. Firstly, it all begins with a chat about your story. Creating your book, or books, is such a fun adventure, and to ensure that it reaches its maximum potential, it’s vital that I have a good understanding of the story, its characters, its focus; in fact, anything that you think is important. During this conversation, we will also discuss and decide on the style of illustration you would prefer for your project. To help choose this, please visit our “Children’s Book Illustration” page, and check out the five styles I offer. While all of this is achievable via emails, I would much prefer a chat over the phone to help me get a better feel for the project.

    2. Deposit. Once we have agreed on the details of the project, all to be confirmed via email exchanges, we will send you a formal contract for you to read and sign. This contract will be in the form of our Acceptance of Commission document and will be sent 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 would you ensure that this amount is paid by return. Work will commence around the date agreed, providing payment has been received.

    3. Let’s Get Started. Before I begin working on your project, please ensure that we are in receipt of ALL of the following details regarding your book. The essential requirements are:- a - A typed & professionally proof-read final draft of your story, preferably in the form of a Word document. b - A descriptive paragraph for the back cover. c - Any dedications for the book (if you wish to have any). d - Inform me if you have any specific requests regarding your characters. What would also be helpful is a short character bio to help me understand more about them, and, if based on real-life characters, please supply a photo or two. We also need to be made aware if we have any specific colouring requirements (eg. the main character to have a green jumper, blue shoes and red trousers etc), and whether you have any illustrative restraints or something specific you definitely don’t want. All of this will save us a lot of time in the editing stage!

    4. Storyboard/Sketch Building. This is the stage where you should very carefully check the sketches/rough book template and make any comments or suggestions. Firstly, I will build a text-based layout to ensure that you are happy with the flow of your story. Once agreed, I will then start to draw, and when completed, I will send you a fully sketched draft. In order to provide the best service possible, during this stage you will get up to THREE full rounds of revisions, as it is vital to ensure that the basic book layout and sketches are correct. Please note that any further revisions after the three included in the process, or any illustration changes requested after this stage will incur additional charges. It is very important at this stage to make sure that you are honest with me, and let me 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, I’m afraid, be chargeable.

    5. Illustration Development. The stage that can take the longest time to complete, and also when I get to colour everything! Please bear in mind that this stage usually requires anywhere between 3 to 6 weeks of work, and sometimes even longer, depending on the complexity of the illustrations. I will do my best to advise you at the earliest opportunity if your illustrations require longer than this to complete.

    6. Book Generation. The book comes to life! This stage involves importing the images and begin editing and will take approx.1 to 2 weeks to complete.

    7. Payment/Final Files. Once I have completed the illustrations and compiled the book, and before the release of many weeks worth of work, the second payment (usually 50% of the agreed fee) will be due. As soon as this payment is received, I will send you the complete finished proof. Please understand that this payment is to be received first, as the files I send you will be the completed book, ready for final editing.

    8. Editing. Once you have received the book and have examined it thoroughly, I 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 I 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!). Remember that there are THREE rounds of final edits included in the package pricing and that any further edits or alterations after this will be chargeable.

    9. And to Finish… After completion of the final editing stage, we request that you sign off the project in writing, usually by email, and upon receipt of which, we will provide you with the following: Self-Publishing Package - All the final files so that you will have everything you need: illustrations as separate files, cover images, and the book PDF file for you to arrange to get printed. Gift Book Package - Two printed copies of your book.

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!


Can you recommend a publisher?

Absolutely, Deep in the heart of the Lincolnshire countryside sits Partnership Publishing. A forward-thinking, creative and innovative, Independent Publishing House with an award-winning team of over 70 years combined experience; who offer a professional publishing & editing service – passionate about sharing untold stories and demystifying the publishing process. 

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'?

padTraditional publishing deals are harder to come by these days, and the majority of people now go down the self-publishing route. There are a number of companies who 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 market place, 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. Please be aware, however, that this can be a very time consuming 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. These companies can be complicated to deal with if you are not familiar with the terminology.

We are currently working to develop a simplified document to help you through the complexities of publishing your book, and this will soon be offered, along with personal assistance, as an optional addition to our self-publishing packages.

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?

Absolutely, Deep in the heart of the Lincolnshire countryside sits Partnership Publishing. A forward-thinking, creative and innovative, Independent Publishing House with an award-winning team of over 70 years combined experience; who offer a professional publishing & editing service – passionate about sharing untold stories and demystifying the publishing process. 

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, I 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 I do not do the printing myself, 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, I can assist you 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. Its always worth asking around and finding which suites you 🙂 But these guys produce GOOD, SOLID 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. We can also offer a basic spelling and grammar check of the final book proof at the end of the process if you wish.

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


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

  • Number of books/stories
  • Are they going to be released in smaller sets?
  • The cost to produce a series

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


A few of my previous clients

happydesigner clients

  • "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

  • “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

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

  • "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

  • "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 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
  • "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 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’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

  • “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

  • "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

  • “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

  • 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

  • "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 is amazing - very fast at understanding the requirements, great pictures and never too much trouble. I recommend her wholeheartedly" - Fernando Caldeira-Saraiva
  • “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 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

  • 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

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

  • "Sarah loves her work, her friendly ‘can do’ approach is reassuring whether you’re on your first or tenth book."  – Darron Jon Love
  • "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
  • “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

  • "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
  • “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