Children’s Book Formatting

Children’s Book Formatting

Should you do it on your own or hire help?

The importance of interior book layout

A big thanks to Alexa Bigwarfe, founder of Write | Publish | Sell for sharing excerpts from her original blog on this topic

The answer to the question “should I do my own book formatting or hire help?” is almost never “I should do it on my own.” ☺️

As a children’s book author, one of the most crucial decisions you’ll need to make early on is whether you need a professional formatter to assist or if your illustrator can handle it. But how do you know if the illustrator is also a professional formatter?

Read on to learn more!

Proper book formatting makes a difference in book sales

The layout and design of your picture book is an essential element in selling a published book. It’s quite striking how much of a difference font and text placement within the illustrations can make.

While you might find a good illustrator who can “format” the book, you want to make sure they actually are formatters. Ask for samples of the other books they’ve formatted, make sure they’re a pro at that piece, and if not, you might want to hire a professional formatter to work alongside the illustrator – insuring they have the right specs for the trim size, they’re leaving enough room for text so it’s not covered by illustrations, and so on.

No matter where you intend on selling your book, the competition is high in the children’s book marketplace. Yours needs to be of the highest quality to be competitive. A professional layout determines the quality and sell-ability of your book. You’ve spent a lot of time writing your book so you want it to look amazing.

Hint: Most freelance illustrators have the skill set to add the text to a book and design a book in the limits of the trim size you give them, but are not actually professional formatters. Most authors also don’t know the subtle differences in the text placement, font choice, how the cover is formatted, and while the product you receive might look great, it may have some issues you don’t even see.

For example:

  • Using fonts that are too small, too big, or too scripty. They might look pretty, but make it challenging for young readers
  • Text that is over the illustrations makes it very difficult to read
  • Not leaving enough room on the page when they create the illustrations for text
  • Placing text too close to the margins
  • Placing too much text on a page

You may have the skills to direct this, but if you don’t, I would encourage you to at least consult with a professional formatter, experienced in children’s books.

What about cost? It’s already so expensive to illustrate a book!

Many authors worry about the costs associated with book formatting.

Generally speaking, this piece is not terribly expensive for children’s picture books, as long as you’re either working with an illustrator who knows what they are doing, or you’re working with a formatter who’s part of the process from the beginning. If they have to fix mistakes made by an illustrator who isn’t formatting well, it can get pricey.

If you’re working on a beginner reader or middle grade book, that is mostly text with some illustrations, it’s even more likely that you’ll need a separate formatter from the illustrator, because the book is primarily text and should be handled by a typesetter/formatter who can incorporate the illustrations.

The pricing of formatting can vary from included in illustrations to a couple of hundred dollars or more, depending on the complexity of the project.

Recommended book formatters for children’s book authors

Below is a list of professional book formatters I have worked with. You can book a call and look at examples of their work to see which is most relevant or reflective of your specs. I recommend you get 3 quotes for everything in life, including book layout and printing.

Note: this company also has Children’s Book Mastery, which offers another array of services:

If you source your own professional formatter, use MCRL’s artwork guidelines as a qualifier during the selection process or ALLI’s industry standards checklist. An experienced formatter will understand these industry standard printing practices.

You will be the creative director for your project so it’s important to research the basics when working with a designer/formatter i.e. things like your font, font size, placement of text, kerning, headers, footers, etc.

Going it alone?

Because I want to help the DIY’ers in the crowd save time and tears, my original book formatting blog has a list of tips and tools I’ve acquired over the years before I went ahead and started hiring others to format for me. 🙂 Click here to read

Bonus Download!

As a children’s book author, one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking moments is when your book is finally ready to be launched into the world.

Whether it’s your first book or tenth, each launch requires careful planning and execution in order to make a strong impact and reach your target audience. That’s why I created the ultimate Book Launch Checklist!

This comprehensive checklist covers everything a children’s book author needs for book launch a success, including:

  • Prioritizing tasks
  • Figuring out what’s important and what you can leave behind
  • Focusing on what matters to publish and launch your book
  • Avoiding missing key steps in the final 120 days before your book launches

Download it HERE!

About our guest author

photo of Alexa Bigwarfe

Alexa Bigwarfe is an author, speaker, publisher, advocate and founder of Write | Publish | Sell, a company dedicated to shepherding authors through the massive process of writing and publishing their books like a pro. Alexa owns her own publishing house, Kat Biggie Press, and an award winning children’s book publishing company, Purple Butterfly Press – dedicated to bringing stories of hope, inspiration, inclusion, and encouragement to the world.