Our #1 children’s book printing tip

#1 Children’s Book Printing Tip

Pick a printer before an illustrator. Here’s why …

You’ve written a children’s book. The next step is to get your awesome illustrator to design and lay out your story, right?

In this blog we’ll explain why it’s prudent to have a plan for printing your picture book BEFORE your illustrator begins.

Why pick a printer first?

Things like text & illustration placement, page count, endsheets, cover design and trim sizes impact your picture book layout – so it’s important to know what’s possible BEFORE illustrating your story.

Printers have guidelines and MANY printers (like MCRL) offer templates to help with cover design and other elements. Printer templates can save you and your illustrator time and costly re-work.

So…what type of printing is best?

Only you can answer this question as it really depends on the goals for your picture book. Are you printing a book primarily for family and friends? Or will you be selling your children’s book on Amazon, your website and bookstores?

There are two methods of printing children’s books:

  1. Digital POD Printing is a popular choice for short-run book printing OR when you want to print your book as sales roll in (Print-On-Demand). The cost/book is based on pages.
  2. Offset Printing is ideal for printing 300+ books. The price per book is MUCH less and custom features such as spot finishes, foils, glitter, embossing, dust jackets, etc. are possible.

Need help? Two children’s book authors share their printing recommendations in this POD vs Offset Printing comparison chart.

What info do printers need?

It’s a good idea to get a couple quotes early in the process to inform your decision. Every printer will need to know these 4 things to provide you with an accurate quote.

1. Page Count

For offset printing, the page count for children’s soft and hardcover picture books needs to be divisible by 4. Board books (and wire-o/spiral bound books) only need to be divisible by 2.

The first inside page of your book is page 1 and starts on the right side, after the inside front cover or front endsheet. The last inside page of your book is on the left side, before the inside back cover or back endsheet.

Page Counting Tips

1 sheet = 2 pages (front and back)

Typical Page Counts
(not including cover)

Picture Books = 32 pages

Board Books = 16-24 pages

End sheets are usually included in hard cover books

Tip: Don’t forget blank pages also need to be included in your overall file page count!

Endsheets of a book refer to the pages at the beginning and end of hardcover or softcover books. They are typically made of a thicker stock than the pages to fortify and add durability. Endsheets are printed as a two-sheet spread. One side of the spread is glued down on the inside back and inside front cover of your book. The other half of the sheet becomes the first and last page of your book. These pages are typically printed with a solid colour or a pattern, providing a great place for branding and information. Endsheets can also be left blank. Click to enlarge

2. Paper and Cover Weight

Coated paper is recommended for picture books because this type of paper shows off illustrations and accommodates heavy graphics. MCRL recommends 80lb. or 100lb. matte or gloss coated paper text stock.

Cover weight

The most common stock for softcover children’s book covers is 10pt. or 12pt.
Hardcover book covers are typically 80pt. to 120pt. MCRL’s hardcover books are created by mounting 100lb. paper onto 80pt. to 120pt. recycled Eska® board.

Board books are typically printed on 40pt. board (about 1mm). When MCRL prints board books, pages are printed on coated paper and then mounted onto 40pt. Eska® board.

Learn more about paper and cover weight options

3. Trim Size

Trim refers to the physical dimensions of your book (width x height).

For softcover books, the cover AND page trim sizes are the same.

For hardcover books, the cover size is slightly larger than the page trim size (about .25″ more along each dimension).

With offset printing, trim size is open to your imagination. Digital printing presses usually have a maximum sheet size of 13” x 19″.

Another big benefit of using an offset printer is the ability to print in landscape, which most print-on-demand services don’t offer.

The industry standard trim sizes for children’s picture books are:

  • 8 inches x 8 inches
  • 8.5 inches x 11 inches
  • 9 inches x 8 inches

Board Books are typically smaller so little hands can hold independently:

  • 5 inches x 5 inches
  • 6 inches x 6 inches
  • 7 inches x 7 inches

Tip: To our knowledge, POD printers cannot print board books.

More industry standard book sizes

If you envision fun features (e.g., flaps, cut outs, sensory fabrics) in your children’s book, chances are you’re going to need an offset printer. POD has a limited number of size and feature options. Make sure you read the fine print about features and what is and isn’t included in your quote.

4. Quantity

The number of books you want to print is important to know if you are going with an offset printer. WHY? The price per book decreases as the quantity increases.

Tip: To save time, MCRL lets you quote a range of quantities at the same time so you have all the information you need upfront. Keep in mind quotes are typically valid for 30 days as shipping, materials and customs prices can change.

Happy Planet. Happy Printing.

Trees for the Future badge Click to enlarge

If printing with the least environment impact is important to you, MCRL is your printer!

We use FSC or Bamboo paper, safe soy ink and recycled Eska® board.

We’ll even include a badge on your book promoting eco-materials & your support for TREES for the Future.

Key Takeaway: To ensure your story has a happy ending, decide on how you plan to print your children’s book BEFORE you lay out your illustrations.

Have a story in the works? Request a printing quote

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