During our two decades experience of designing and illustrating children’s books, we have created and refined our very own book creation process, making it very simple and straightforward for all authors to have a beautifully crafted book made from their work! 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!
As an example, here’s a simplified step-by-step plan of how it works:
Step #1: Develop your story, have it professionally proofread, then bring it to us.
Step #2: Storyboard/layout designed.
Step #3: Character design & development.
Step #3: Sketches for the illustrations produced.
Step #4: Illustrations created from the sketches.
Step #5: Digital proof and review of the completed book.
Step #6: Print files created for your chosen printing options.
Step #7: Receive your book from the printers!
Please visit our Children’s book illustration page for more information on our process and examples of our work.
- At Happydesigner, we firmly believe that creating any book should be 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 let us know if you have anything particular in mind for the illustrations, 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 further information of how we can help, including costs and a potential timeframe. Although every project we complete is unique and follows its own individual path, the following is how a basic book creation package works…
- Once we have agreed on the details of the project and confirmed via email exchanges, to secure a place in our diary, a booking fee is payable. Whilst this is non-refundable if the booking is cancelled, this amount will be deducted from the final balance owing upon completion of the project. Once this is paid, we will confirm the booking via email and send you our formal Acceptance of Commission document (see also our Terms & Conditions). Around a week or two before work is due to begin, the deposit is payable (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 as near to the agreed date as possible, providing payment has been received. It’s important to remember that the creative process isn’t an exact science, and sometimes things can take a little longer than anticipated. Therefore, occasionally, there may be a short delay to the start date but should we find ourselves in this position, we will keep you fully informed and endeavour to begin the process as quickly as possible.
- 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. The most important is a final and professionally proofread manuscript of your story, preferably in the form of a Word document. If possible, please also provide us with a detailed brief for your project as it will be extremely helpful in understanding 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, once Sarah has completed her initial designs, you should 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 book we are commissioned to create in our own unique way. Whilst we will always do our best to encompass your wishes in respect of illustrative content, 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 standard 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, less the initial booking 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.
Depends on a few factors, including:
- The length of your story
- The complexity and number of the illustrations required
- The receipt and content of feedback, when requested
- The book creation package chosen
As a rough idea, an average book of around 28 - 36 pages takes approximately 3 - 4 months to complete from start to finish.
With more complex books, eg. with more pages and pictures or higher detailed illustrations, or for books where clients choose to take advantage of our Premium Package, these can take 5 months or more to complete.
As many as you like!
Whether it's ten, a thousand, or ten thousand 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, we 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 to have a funny way of creeping in!
To help things run as quickly and as smoothly as possible, it’s essential that we have the following from you before Sarah begins to weave her magic:
- A completed and professionally proofread manuscript of your story
- Descriptions for all of your main characters
- Any specifics we need to include, such as clothing colours/styles etc.
- An engaging, descriptive paragraph for the back cover
- A dedication for inside the book (if you wish to have one)
- A project brief would be extremely helpful
- Reference photographs - please ensure that these are clear and well defined!
Within our standard packages, we allow up to three rounds of edits at the sketch stage, and up to two rounds for final text editing/tweaking once the book is completed. We work hard to create professional quality books on a comparatively small budget, and there is a defined amount of time we can allow for editing within the package prices we offer. Whilst we will always do our best to accommodate every client's wishes, we have to be a little strict with the time allowed for the revision rounds with each book. Therefore, if you keep sending through more and more edits during the process, I’m afraid that this will result in us having to invoice for any extra time required to complete them.
ISBN stands for: The International Standard Book Number. This is your book's unique product identity number. It's essential to have one for every version of your book if you want to sell them, as it aids in their listing, discovery and distribution, both here in the UK and also worldwide.
You don't HAVE to have one, nor is it a legal requirement, but ISBNs assist greatly with your book’s visibility and accessibility. For instance, publishers, booksellers and libraries use them for ordering, listing and stock control, so if your book doesn’t have an ISBN, the chances are that very few people will be able to find it or stock it!
If you want to add an ISBN to your book, the process is fairly easy and you can buy an ISBN online. TIP: If you’re planning on releasing your book in various formats, such as paperback, hardback, eBook, etc., or if you’re planning on publishing another book at some point in the future, then it is FAR cheaper to buy a block of numbers, rather than individually!
The ISBN agency in the UK is Nielsen Book Data. They manage the process of allocating ISBNs in the United Kingdom as well as several other things that you might need to know about, and use, as you progress with your publishing journey.
Here’s the link to Nielsen’s ISBN Store : https://www.nielsenisbnstore.com
The email address to contact us is: firstname.lastname@example.org
We sure can. You simply need to purchase a barcode (in an EPS format) at the same time you obtain your ISBN from Nielsen, send it to us, and we will apply it to your book before we produce the final print files.
Although traditional publishing deals are still around, they are much harder to come by these days, and because of this, the majority of authors now go down the self-publishing route. There are several companies, known as ‘vanity publishers’, that may well be interested in offering you a way to publish your book. Although many of them will have some industry contacts and be able to get your book into the marketplace, they will usually require a significant upfront fee, and there may be conditions attached, such as signing the rights to your book over to them, for you to consider before accepting the deal. We would always recommend being careful and to carry out a lot of research before choosing to go down this route.
However, there is absolutely no need for you to publish your book through any sort of publisher. With a little time, patience and research, you can successfully publish your book yourself, and for a small fraction of the cost that many vanity publishers will charge you. Should you choose to work with us to create your book, we can provide you with lots of advice regarding your publishing journey, and we can even refer you to companies able to offer you real help and assistance in several areas to help you promote, market, print and distribute your book.
If you are happy to have your book as a 'print-on-demand' title, or as an eBook, there are several online companies to consider, such as Lulu, Amazon, Kindle publishing, Ingram Sparks and many others. It’s worth pointing out that these companies can be a little complicated to deal with at first 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. Nevertheless, this is a good option to consider if you don't wish to be involved with stocking and shipping your book yourself.
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 designers and creators of your book, producing a storyboard in the early stages allows us 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.
Print prices vary depending on the amount of pages/material/size of the book you wish to have printed. Also, the number of books you have printed at any one time will affect the price you pay for each copy. For instance, hypothetically, a print run of 200 copies might cost you £300 (£1.50 per book), whereas a print run of 1000 copies might only cost £1200 (£1.20 per book), therefore, it is much more cost effective to have a larger print run. We can recommend print companies that will provide you with good quality cost-effective printing, or if you are aiming to produce a high-end, top-quality book, we can help you achieve that too. Please note, however, that we do not print anything ourselves, and that you will be dealing with independent printers.
There are lots of different print options available to you, and yes, this can be a little 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, it’s always worth asking around and finding which option suits you best. We can recommend good quality print companies that will provide you with great products and great service, but if it’s high-end, highest quality you’re after, these guys are top industry professionals and produce excellent quality books with a first-class service – www.pureprint.com
Sizes: There are several standard sizes for picture books, including A4 (Portrait or Landscape) and 21cm x 21cm square, and as they are standard sizing, they are usually the cheapest options. There are many other standard sizes available to choose from, and should you wish, you can even have your own bespoke size, although with most print companies, this will come at a premium price.
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).
Yes we sure can!!!
Having your manuscript professionally proofread and edited is something that we highly recommend for all books that we are commissioned to complete. Casting a second pair of experienced eyes over a manuscript can sometimes find little things that have been previously missed that can spoil an otherwise super book if they are discovered once it has been printed and published. Should you decide to work with us, and if you wish, we will be happy to refer you to one of the excellent proofreaders we use who have provided great service to many of our previous clients.
Producing a series of books is a fantastic journey and one that can be very rewarding in many ways. However, whilst it can be an exciting process and one that you might be keen to embark on, it requires some careful planning in order to achieve the very best results. Some of the key factors to consider are:
The number of books in the series
Are they going to be released individually at set times or periodically in batches
Do you want to release them under a brand name with an accompanying series logo
Is there the potential for further development of the series, which maybe should be considered from the outset
The financial implications of producing the series in respect of the potential income and expenditure
Publishing options, including such things as printing, sales platforms and distribution
How do I effectively market and promote the series, both at the pre-launch stage and ongoing once the series has been launched?
To help with the marketing and promotion of your series, we offer an online promotional package. This package includes correctly formatted and copyrighted images for use online and on all social media platforms. In addition to this, we can also create colouring sheets, book promotion images, launch leaflet designs, activity sheet designs, promo stickers, poster designs, roller banner designs, and bookmark designs – in fact, we can design just about anything you need to help with the promotion and marketing of your book series!
Yes, we sure can! Hundreds of the books we have created during the last two decades have been successfully published, and we have been involved in the publishing process with many of them. Whilst we are not a publishing company ourselves, nor are we experts at it, we have gained lots of experience and knowledge of the process, and when you work with us, we are more than happy to share this with you to help you on your journey.
As established and leading children’s book designers and illustrators, demand for our work is high and continually growing, so we generally have a waiting list of several months before we are able to begin working on new commissions. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however, as this time can be spent refining your story and having it professionally proofread and edited before we begin to work our magic. Plus, we will always be available during this period to answer any questions or provide advice in any way we can help you along your exciting journey as an author, and in any case, it’s amazing just how quickly this time will pass!
Yes, of course we can, and this is because the whole process is conducted via emails and other electronic transfer methods such as Dropbox & WeTransfer. Therefore, by using our unique book creation process, it is very easy for us to be able to successfully design your book no matter where you are based, and we can provide you with your final print files in any format to suit your preferred print option.
Yes, we certainly can! We have designed, illustrated and created many books that have been written in several different languages, so this is not a problem for us. All we need is an English translation of your manuscript to work with, and we will weave our magic in exactly the same way as we always do. We have also designed books and several series of books written in more than one language, so we can help, whatever your needs!
Yes, it is possible, but only after discussing with us first and obtaining a copyright licence, which may incur additional charges or a royalty payment agreement depending on the intended use. Several previous clients have used our designs and illustrations in all sorts of ways, including having soft toys, games, clothing, and other forms of merchandise made. Some have even used them for animated films and TV series, and a specific copyright licence agreement was required for all of these uses.
Regarding licencing, the Berne Convention is the main international convention that governs copyrighting, which is adopted in British law as well as the laws of many other countries. Their ruling states that all creative people (artists, sculptors, authors, illustrators, songwriters, photographers, etc.) automatically own the copyright to each of their creations outright. It is common practice for each creative to negotiate the relevant copyright licences for any required use accordingly. As an established professional illustration and design company, we adopt the same practice here. However, to make things as simple as we can, with every commission we undertake, we provide an exclusive copyright licence allowing the use of all illustrations and character designs within the book or project title for which they were created. Generally, we issue this licence for what is termed the ‘period of copyright’, which is defined as the lifetime of the creator plus 70 years. Therefore, on average, you would only need to come back to us once every hundred years to obtain an extension to this licence..!
Much of this depends on the subject matter and the complexity of the text, but another deciding factor is the word count – the number of words in the story. If you carry out an internet search, you will find differing opinions when it comes to the definition of the age groups, but in general, we find that the following works well as a rough guide.
- Board Book or equivalent (Infant to 3 Years) - up to 200 words
- Picture Books (2 to 6 Years of Age) - up to 1000 words
- Early Reader (5 to 9 Years of Age) - up to 4000 words
- Middle Grade (8 to 12 Years of Age) - up to 10,000 words
- Young Adult (12 and older) - As many words as you like!
Of course, you may have a story perfectly suitable for a picture book, but containing 1200 words, and this is absolutely fine as there are no hard and fast rules. Just keep in mind that as long as the story is good, the illustrations well crafted and engaging, and the layout complements the story and type of book, then all is good!
This all depends on your individual circumstances and whether you are prepared to spend a little time going through the process, which, with a little patience, is relatively straightforward and will save you heaps of money!
Vanity publishers have emerged over the years due to traditional publishing deals with the major publishing houses becoming increasingly harder to come by. Whilst on the face of it, they offer a way for fledgling authors to have their work published, it’s worth noting that this service generally comes at a significant upfront cost. Much of this work can be carried out by the authors themselves at a fraction of the cost, so this is something to be considered carefully before signing any contract. Over the years, we have learned from many of our clients that the money charged by different vanity publishers can vary quite a bit, usually anywhere from around £1500 for a very basic package up to as much as £5000. These deals will usually include, amongst other smaller items, an ISBN, barcode, proofreading, inclusion on the publisher's imprint, a marketing package and perhaps a small number of printed books. This may seem okay, but when you work out that you can buy your own ISBN and barcode for just over £100, employ the services of a professional proofreader for about £100, and have 100 books printed for about £200, you have to begin to question where the real value is. Okay, they may spend an hour or two uploading your book data to the ISBN database, but you can do this easily yourself. Then there is the marketing package they may offer. From our experience, this usually consists of a couple of social media posts, perhaps a press release and maybe even a podcast. But the main thing they provide is the instruction on how YOU do the vast majority of the marketing and promotion yourself! They may also provide you with a platform from which you can sell your books, but be aware that they will charge a handling fee per book sale for this service, which is not insignificant.
At the end of the day, the decision is yours, but it’s worth weighing up all of the options before taking the plunge. Rest assured, however, that no matter how you decide to go about it, we will design, illustrate and create a wonderful book you can be proud to publish!
Thank you for thinking of this, as not everyone does! The reason it is important to tag us in all posts is so that we can see and share them with our followers, which will help you and your book get noticed more quickly on all platforms.
To help you, the tags to use are below:
FACEBOOK - @happydesigner
INSTAGRAM - @happydesignerhq
TWITTER - @happydesigner
This is purely a personal choice, but we recommend considering it, especially if you are planning on publishing more than one book, as it presents a more professional appearance to prospective buyers and readers.
As well as being a leading children’s book creator and illustrator, Sarah-Leigh is also an award-winning graphic designer and a branding specialist, and this means that we can create a unique brand package designed especially for you, which we have already done for many other authors.
Quite simply – YES!
Utilising all available social media platforms plays a crucial role in the successful marketing of many products these days, which applies very much to children’s books. By their very colourful and engaging nature, they are the perfect thing to advertise on any social media platform, as you can easily showcase them, especially the cover design, in your posts. However, it is essential that you approach social media advertising and promotion correctly, as you can waste a heck of a lot of time and also a fair bit of money pushing your adverts in the wrong way so that your target audience never gets to see them.
When working with us, should you wish, we can provide you with details of professional people who will handle your social media for you, taking the strain away from you and ensuring that this important aspect is handled properly. However, if you are confident at having a go at this yourself, we can also provide you with a help guide to give you pointers to key areas to look at and concentrate on.