How to Self-Publish a Children’s Book: Everything You Need to Know

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If you’re thinking about using your storytelling or illustrative skills to create a children’s book, you’re in the right place! Today, I’m covering everything you need to know to create, publish, and sell your children’s book. 

Here are the basic steps to create a children’s book for publishing:

  1. Write and storyboard your children’s book
  2. Revise the text and illustrate the story
  3. Pick a self-publishing platform and get any templates/design specifications
  4. Design your children’s book interior and cover
  5. Publish your book!

The cost to publish a children’s book varies heavily based on your skills (will you illustrate or do you need to hire an artist?) and the publishing path you take. If you elect to self-publish, you will pay for editing, design, and printing. If you are lucky enough to land a contract with a traditional publisher, they typically pay for all the costs. But remember, you’ll be sharing a significant amount of your revenue with your publisher.

Before we dig into the technical aspects of how to make a book for kids, let’s first clarify what makes children’s books unique. 

What Is A Children’s Book?

Generally, anything intended to entertain or educate kids using illustrations and text fits the definition of a children’s book. That can include children’s picture books for toddlers and goes right up to middle-grade books for young children.  Young adult novels (otherwise known as YA novels) don’t fit as children’s books—these are closer to an adult novel.

To help make writing and publishing your picture book easier, here are three story elements to pay extra attention to when writing a children’s story: 

  1. Characters
  2. Education
  3. Design 

The characters you design are the most crucial part of your children’s story. The kids who read (or have the book read to them) need to identify with the main character. That’s why most children’s books feature a child protagonist.

Your strong, well-developed character will need to learn something (or potentially teach something) during your book. You might create a short story that simplifies mathematics, explains how planes fly, or teach kids empathy. The goal of your story extends to help define your audience: if you’re writing a math book, your audience is children who are struggling with math.

Finally, there is the design. Keep it simple! Books for kids should be easy to understand and follow, with clear language and a compelling story. Avoid using complicated words or sentences. Your goal is to convey the story as simply as possible, with an emphasis on the illustrations.

Create A Children’s Book

Spark imaginations with your
self-published children’s book.

Create A Children’s Book

Spark imaginations with your self-published children’s book.


Weak characters will ruin any story, but for early readers, you need characters who elicit a strong and immediate emotional reaction. If your target audience (the kids reading or being read your book) doesn’t connect with the character immediately, they won’t stay interested in the story.

As you create your story, be conscious of how you handle your characters. If you don’t spark your readers’ interest and build a connection between your readers and your characters, your story will fall flat.

And because your story won’t have the length or depth of a novel, the connection must be made quickly. I recommend studying the most popular children’s books with an eye for the author’s character development.


For a children’s book, the goal is almost always education. That could be school lessons like math or grammar, or you might teach moral or ethical lessons like acceptance and tolerance. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a children’s book anywhere that doesn’t teach a lesson, whether moral or academic.

That doesn’t mean you can’t be entertaining too. The best children’s books do both! Make your story so much fun that they won’t even realize they’re learning while reading it.

Don’t let that distract you from the lesson behind your book. Offering a lesson is the most important part of your children’s book and should be the first thing you plan when outlining the story.


Children’s books put the illustrations first. To make the story compelling, the text and the artwork must work together.

Think about how the book will be read—is your children’s book aimed at kids who will read themselves? The text will need to be slightly larger and you’ll need to pay attention to the complexity of your words and sentences.

Or are you aiming at a younger audience who will be read to by parents or teachers? Now you should make the text comfortable for an adult to read and place it so it’s not obstructing the image at all—parents need to be able to easily show their kids your illustrations! 

You need to make the illustrations informative and clear, coupled with easy-to-follow text. If you’re an artist, you may be able to create your illustrations. If not, you may want to consider hiring an illustrator to help bring your vision to life.

Defining Your Reader And Buyer Audiences

As with any creative endeavor, children’s publishing is only going to be successful if you find the right audience. This is further complicated by the fact that you’ll be targeting two distinct audiences: 

  1. The kids who read your story
  2. The parents/teachers who buy your story 

The children your books are for are usually easier to sort out. 

Children’s books can be targeted to specific age groups, like ‘toddlers’ and young readers. Generally, children’s books are for younger children. As kids get older and better at reading, middle-grade books feature more text, and storytelling elements are more appropriate. A middle-grade book will focus on helping older children hone their reading skills and build reading habits. Beyond middle grade, young adult stories are chapter books or novels targeted at teens.

The parents, teachers, and other adults who will buy the books are a bit harder to target. You need to be sure that your book cover artist has a clear sense of who will be buying the books so they can make it very clear what the book includes.

That means a cover that conveys the lessons your book includes while making it clear what age group will enjoy your book. 

Self-Publishing Your Children’s Book

Self-publishing is a great option for authors because it allows them to have complete control over their work and keep costs low by using print-on-demand. Unlike many other self-publishing platforms, Lulu allows authors to self-publish their children’s books for free and retain all royalties from sales.

The other side of this is the associated costs of preparing your children’s book. Hiring an Illustrator can be very expensive. Page layout and editing add more costs

Don’t let that stop you though. There are some great resources. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is a great place to learn more about creating children’s books and even offers an Illustrator’s Gallery to help find an illustrator for your book. 

The Children’s Book Council offers more in the field of promotional assistance, but they also have a great FAQ Section for aspiring children’s book authors. 

Print-On-Demand For Your Children’s Book

Using a print-on-demand model means that you only pay for the copies of your book that you sell, rather than having to order and pay for a large print run up front. 

Modern self-publishing platforms make it easier to publish a children’s book yourself. Once you’ve written the book, created the illustrations, and organized your pages you only need to upload your book’s files and start selling!

As you’re preparing your children’s book for publishing, be sure to use any available templates or sizing guides. Sites like Lulu make it free to upload and self-publish your book to sell, but it will still be on you to design and prepare your children’s book for printing! 

Selling Your Children’s Book

Like any self-published book, selling your children’s book will be most successful if you have an established audience. That can be challenging; you need established connections with schools or kids groups or a captive audience (such as a social or email following).

More than any other kind of author, children’s book creators rely on in-person events. Finding a local bookstore that will host you allows you to read your entire book. If the kids in the crowd love it, there’s a very good chance they’ll be going home with a copy. 

You can foster online relationships too. Look for communities of parents or teachers and look to build an audience there. Offering free extras on your website (maybe with a URL or QR code in the printed book) will help your customers find your site and potentially join your mailing list

Using Lulu to self-publish your books also gives you the advantage of selling your children’s books directly on your website with Lulu Direct.

Self-Publishing Your Children’s Book

Is it difficult to self-publish a children’s book? Yes, it’s going to take some work. But it’s also a rewarding experience that allows you to help teach kids valuable lessons.

Remember to keep your audience in mind, focus on simplicity and clarity in your writing, and invest in high-quality illustrations and design. Pair those with a high-quality printer that ships internationally like Lulu, and you’ll be a published author in no time!

Create A Children’s Book

Spark imaginations with your
self-published children’s book.

Create A Children’s Book

Spark imaginations with your self-published children’s book.

Paul H, Content Marketing Manager

Paul is the Content Marketing Manager at Lulu. When he's not entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person but considers himself cat tolerant.

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I want to tell a true story of a little boy who finds and cares for a mudlark. It can’t fly when he finds it but with love and care it does. Photos are available to go with it

I have a series of interactive children’s books that include pages where children can draw and add to the stories. Not all pages do this but those that do need to be dry-erasable. Do you have the capabilities to mix standard printed pages with erasable pages?

How long does it take to ship a book after creating the order? Thank you.

I am a first time author of a Children’s Book and trying to self publish to keep the cost down.

  1. Does LuLu print on both sides of the page for children’s books? All of the Children’s books I have seen print on both sides of the paper.
  2. How do count the number of pages? Is each side of the paper a page i.e., Page 1 first side of the paper and Page 2 on the other side of the paper. Would a single piece of paper be counted as 1 page or 2? I am trying to looking at options for a hard cover book and it looks like I have to have a minimum of 24 pages to get the options I want.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Many Thanks

I have a cd/audio track that will be accompanying my book. Does Lulu support this option?

Does my title page and my cover page need to be the same as a children’s picture book?

Hi, Would I be able to create a children’s book with a little texture added in? Thank you for your help.

Everything says option not available??????

How do I publish a children’s book on lulu platform? I don’t see an option for children’s books.

Thanks for this Paul! This is very helpful!

I am wanting to turn some of my poetry into children’s books. I have found someone to do the illustrations and am trying to find out how much it will cost to publish and print the books.

The first book will be aimed at 0-6 year olds. It will have 8 openings with pictures on one side of the opening and 4 lines of poem on the other side (plus title page with publishing info and dedication, etc).

I want the book in hardcover. I’d like to keep costs down so I can sell the book for a lower price.

Are you able to email me specific instructions on how to find out this information on your site (I’m a bit of a numpty with these things).

I just stumbled on this blog and it is such a blessing to me.
I have always been a writer and I work with children and I have some ideas that I have been wanting to pen down.
This is a light bulb moment for me as my eyes are open to stuff out here.
I find myself being finally able to put things together like bottling water for sale in this covid 19 season.
Thanks for inspiring.
I will stay tuned..

Thanks Paul for your quick and helpful response 🙂

Thanks for this really useful and informative article! 🙂

I’m looking into self-publishing at the moment and I’m struggling to find information about sales. Assuming I have a great illustrator, story, and writing – how many books should I print? It’s really hard to find numbers for sales on existing children’s books, and it’s a very new landscape for a lot of people who are looking at self-publishing.

Best wishes,


Hi Paul. Thank you for the help. I didn’t realize xpress is a different service until just now. One follow up – we are thinking of using the Lulu API to automatically send order to Lulu. I am assuming the API works with xpress? Many thanks.

Hi Paul, I just finished my first children’s book. It’s contents is a fun story I made up years ago and have told it to many children. I would always get the same reaction, laughter and the question, “ why don’t you make into a book so we can see what he looks like”? I am excited to finally get it written…. but need lots of advice and help of any kind as I go forward .

Would love any advice for a novice. Writer Thank you

Hi Paul. Thank you for the help. I didn’t realize xpress is a different service until just now. One follow up – we are thinking of using the Lulu API to automatically send order to Lulu. I am assuming the API works with xpress? Many thanks.

We would like to publish a children’s story book that we drop-ship to our subscribers when they sign up for annual subscription. We have full page illustration, and would like to make it landscape. Which of the options should we choose? Would premium paperback + color + perfect bound be ok? Also, in terms of hardcover, we noticed that the professional hardcover only comes in portrait? Is there a way to get that in square or landscape?


I would like your opinion as to the paper most conducive to children’s books. I am choosing between 32# or 80#. I am looking for matte/coated.

Great day fellow authors of children’s books. I hope this comment reaches all in a wonderful spirit. My name is Lawrence Engerman Jr. and I am inviting you all to join my movement. I have recently reestablished my Company HipHop & Friends Inc. a NON-Profit to help the homeless teens in America.We provide lodging and job opportunities by promoting literacy and entertainment to children all year around. Please visit our website and join our mission. By subscribing you will become an active member and we will help to distribute your book. It takes a team “Together Everyone Achieves More.” If you want to contact me directly to
further discuss our partnership I can be reached at 4807856872.

Thank you kindly and remember it’s all for the children!

Hi my name is Angela, I wrote my children’s book six years ago and got stuck trying to find the right fit for an illustrator. I want to make sure I own all the rights to my characters, I have the exact description for all of my character’s, however I am a writer not an artists. I don’t have a lot of money to invest, and plan to self publish. What is your advice to find an illustrator?

Hi Angela,
I think you’ve got a couple of options. One would be to hire a freelance artists and get the work done on commission. Reedsy or Fiverr are both good sites to look for freelance creators. The other option would be to find an artist through a local or online community and share the work. That would likely mean sharing the credit and revenue.

Hi Paul I would some advise please, I have finished my first children’s book including illustrations. I would like to publish it as ebook and hardcopy.

I would information on how to get started writing a adult and children’s book and cost. Thanks.

Hi Paul would like to know ho can I go to the next steps for my children book.i have the stories written at this post by that’s all

Thank you for this very informative post. I am a few buttons away from publishing on lulu. I just want to make sure everything is ready. I am not sure lulu has an option for hard cover? I was hoping to also publish in hard cover, someday, is that possible? Can I use my isbn from lulu to other publishing sites that have hard cover in any way?
I’m trying out the content creation wizard now on lulu, and requested a print ready pdf file. The print ready file has white lines on all edges, is that like the cutting area? It will be gone when the book is actually printed, correct? I just want to make sure I’m doing this right. 🙂
Thank God for online self publishing options like Lulu!

I have finished a children’s book.also I do plan to publish with lulu.but I would like to know how much would it cost me for a 38 page full color book size 8.6×11. I need to know this so I can get books for my book signings.

I have finished a nice children’s book.also I plan to publish my book with lulu.bu I wonder how much will it cost me per book for a 38 page full color 8.5×11 book. I need to know this so that I can get books for my book signings.

Hi Paul. I wrote a children’s books And wanted to get a little more information on book publishing with this company! Can you send some info to my email please?
Carmen D

Hi Paul,
I’ve just completed my first children’s collection – Sally’s Seaside Secrets : a Week at Whitby.
There are 7 books – an adventure a day for Sally and the new friends she makes over the week. The adventures are all ‘secrets’ she keeps from the adults in her life – The Glamorous Grandma and The Grumpy Grandad, with whom she lives.
I plan for Sally to have further ‘adventures’ in other locations as she searches for the mysterious thing called ‘a holiday’ that The Glamorous Grandma is excited about them all going on. The biggest secret – which the Glamorous Grandma and The Grumpy Grandad know, but the reader doesn’t – is Sally’s true identity. This won’t be revealed until the last series…or if series 1 and 2 don’t perform well. Once Sally’s secret identity is revealed, she is unlikely to have appeal, so the stories will end.
My question is…is it better to release one book at a time and ‘kill’ the series on day 7 ( book 7) if the first 6 don’t take off? Or release all 7 and wait until after series 2 (another setting another 7 days/books) then decide whether to continue or kill?
Hope that makes sense?

Thanks for that, Paul.
Your suggestion makes sense. I’ll have to get my act in order and get on with it.
Kind regards,

Paul, My main Question is will Lulu let me include Both Illustrations and actual Photos in my children’s book project?

I enjoyed this compilation of good advice. I took notes of them and I am going to read once more my children’s stories with the eyes and mind of a teacher like Paul and see if they conform to all these criteria. I know it is difficult to write for children but I am prepared to work hard for it as I desire to achieve my goal: writing and illustrating books for children.
Paul, watch this space… and many thanks for your very helpful article.

Good article I have just finished two children’s books now it’s onwards to try and get them published ?

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