Home / Book Formatting / Children’s Book Template and Layout: How to Design Your Children’s Book
Designing and writing a children's book is different from writing a text-only book. There are many design options to consider, along with image choices, word placement, and even page count. Luckily, when you know what you're doing, you can easily create a children's book layout or template to work with. And by the time you're done with this article, you'll know how to draft your own children's book template!
In this article, you will learn:
- Different Children's Books
- Children's Book Design Elements
- Picture Book Layout Options
- Hardcover and Paperback
- Crafting Your Children's Book Template
Know Your Children's Book
There are many kinds of children's books, each appropriate for a certain age range. Before you start crafting your children's book layout, it's important to know what age range you're writing for.
Children's picture books will be the primary focus of this article. Picture books are generally for kids aged 2 to 5. They combine text and images to tell a story. It's this combination that can be challenging for new children's book authors.
For reference, there are also board books for kids aged 0 to 3. These generally don't have much text; the story is told mostly through images.
On the other side of the picture books, you have chapter books. These are appropriate for children aged 6 to 10. These are also called “early reader” books. A chapter book will still have illustrations, but not on every page.
For a broader look at formatting children’s books with lots of images/illustrations, you can check out our article on how to format a children's book.
Picture Book Design Elements
When designing your children's book, it's a good idea to think about the design elements before you get into the nitty-gritty. These elements include:
- Word Count
- Page Count
We'll go over each of these elements, breaking down the established norms to give you a framework to follow. And while you don't have to stick to the norms exactly, following them closely will give your picture book the best chance of success.
Picture Book Word Count
Most picture books have between 200 and 400 words. You generally don't want to go over 500 words in this kind of children's book. The right balance of pictures and words — not just on every page but across the book — will help ensure that the child reading it will stay engaged. And since picture books are also read by the parents, it's important to provide a good experience for all parties.
The ideal per-page word count for a children's picture book is somewhere between 15 and 30 words. However, you'll probably have a couple of pages where the word count exceeds 30. This is okay, as long as you don't go over 50 on any page and you don't go over 30 very often. You can also go as low as 10 words on a page.
Children's Book Page Count
The vast majority of traditionally published picture books are 32 pages. In fact, many self-published kids book authors also stick to this page number. However, there are some picture books that come in at 24, 40, or 48 pages.
If you're self-publishing a book for young children, you'll need to plan for requirements levied by the two major self-publishing companies: Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and IngramSpark.
Amazon KDP Print has a minimum page count requirement of 24 for a paperback book and 76 for a hardback. In addition, the page count you choose must be divisible by 4. IngramSpark has similar requirements. Your kids' book must be a minimum of 16 pages, with the total count divisible by 2.
If you're not sure which print on demand company you'll go with, just make sure that your book will meet the requirements for both companies to keep your options open. And making a 32-page children's book will do just that.
However, just choosing an appropriate page count isn't all you need to do. There are some other things to consider when it comes to your children's book layout and page count.
Pro Tip: For the best chance of success, you will want to create a print book. Most children's books are sold as print books, although you can also format for ebook to reach the widest possible market.
Children's Book Layout Options
If you're a new author, it's easy to forget about the front and back matter of your book. The front matter includes things like the title page, copyright page, and dedication. The back matter includes things like acknowledgments and marketing information (like other books by you).
These sections are especially important when designing a picture book because they're included in the total page count. In other words, you need to plan for your front and back matter and the story itself. You also need to determine whether your book will be paperback or hardcover, as this will affect the page count as well.
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Let's start with paperback children's books, since they're the most popular type.
Paperback Picture Book Layout Options
In a 32-page children's book, the first and last pages (1 and 32) will be single pages. All the other pages will be doubles (meaning you can see both pages at once). With this in mind, it's important to consider whether you want your story to start on a single page or a double.
If you want to open your story with a double-page spread, then you'll have to ensure that your story starts on an even-numbered page. Otherwise, you can start your story on an odd-numbered page.
Here are a couple of possibilities to consider for the start of your book.
- Page 1: Title Page
- Page 2: Copyright (And Dedication, if you want)
- Page 3: Story Begins
With this option, your story would start on a single page on the right hand side, since it's on an odd-numbered page.
- Page 1: Half Title Page
- Page 2: Copyright
- Page 3: Title Page
- Page 4: Story Begins
With this option, your story would start on a left-hand page, giving you the option to do a double-page illustration, if you wish. Or you could do two different illustrations on pages 4 and 5.
With either option, you'll still want to consider the end of the book, as well. If your book is the first in a series, you may want to use a page in the back matter to let readers know about the next book.
If you're self-publishing, you'll want to account for the very last page (page 32) in the book, as this needs to be blank. Both IngramSpark and Amazon KDP Print require a blank page at the back for their barcode. And if you don't have one, they'll add however many pages they need to meet their page-count requirements. Not only will this increase your printing costs, but the book will seem unprofessional, with so many blank pages at the back.
Hardcover Children's Book Layout Options
If you're planning on selling your children's book as a hardcover, you'll need to consider that the first and last pages may be glued down to the inside of the book cover when printed. When the publisher prints a book this way, it's called a self-ended book. So if you're doing the standard 32-page book, you won't be able to print anything on pages 1 or 32, because they will both be glued down.
Another type of hardcover children's book printing requires endpapers or end sheets to affix the content of the book to the cover. This requires 4 blank pages in the front of the book and four in the back. So if you were to do a 32-page book, you would need to add eight pages, making it a 40-page book, since eight of those pages wouldn't be used for content.
These are considerations for designing a traditionally published hardcover children's book — or if you're planning to use an offset printer (which we don't recommend). If you're looking to self-publish your hardcover children's book on Amazon KDP, your book will need to be a minimum of 76 pages at the time of this writing. Unfortunately, this is overly long for a children's book.
IngramSpark might be the better option, as they allow for shorter hardback books. But if your book is less than 48 pages, there won't be enough room on the spine for text.
Luckily, most self-published children’s book authors do well with just the paperback and ebook options.
Creating a Children's Book Template
Now that we've covered some important aspects of children's book layout, we can delve into creating a design template. It's important to note that this isn't a done-for-you picture book template. If that's something you're looking for, check out this article.
If you're wanting to write more than one children's book, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with some design basics. And while you may work with a designer (if you're not familiar with Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator), it's still beneficial to know the basics we'll cover in this section.
A children's book design template, also called a book map, is a way to ensure that your placement of text and image is varied and optimized for the best reading experience. Even young readers (perhaps especially so) can instinctively spot a repetitive or cookie-cutter book design. There should be enough variation in images and text — and a compelling story — to keep the pages turning. Here's how you can do just that.
Determine Your Story Start
As mentioned above, it's a good idea to know whether your story will start on a single page or a double-page spread. This will help determine your front matter placement, along with the design for the rest of the book. Let your story dictate its opening and go from there.
Brainstorm Your Story Beats
Each page (or double-page spread) should tell a miniature story by itself. Keeping this in mind can help you as you think about your story beats and the illustrations that will go along with them. Each right-hand page should compel the reader to turn the page to see what happens next.
It's helpful at this stage to create a book dummy or a storyboard to help you visualize the story progression. A book dummy is a simple design using paper and a rubber band or staples that you can then sketch inside with rough outlines of the text and pictures.
If you're so inclined, you can do this in a program like Microsoft Word or Adobe InDesign — or in whatever program you feel most comfortable. The idea here is to get a rough draft going of the story beats, helping you determine text placement and design basics.
Consider Common Page Layouts
As you're filling in your book dummy or storyboard, look for those scenes that are the most impactful. These are the scenes that deserve their own two-page spreads.
Conversely, a relatively minor scene could be a good place to incorporate a “page break,” separating the text from the illustration for variety. These are known as vignettes. After all, you don't want every scene to be a spread, just as you don't want every page to be a vignette. While the most common type of page layout is full-bleed (meaning the image goes all the way to the edges of the page), you can also have spot art pages.
By artfully combining full-bleed pages, full-bleed spreads, vignettes, and spot art pages, you can provide variety and use page layouts that are appropriate for your specific story beats!
Remember Word Count
As mentioned above, you'll want to keep the word count around 30 per page — definitely no more than 50. Keep this in mind as you go through and develop your book template. If one scene requires more than 50 words, you may need to create a spread for that scene, or else edit it down until it's closer to 30 words.
Jot Down Art Notes
Everyone has a different writing process. If you're working from a manuscript, you may already have notes of what you want each illustration to convey. If you don't, jot them down for your designer (if you're working with one).
Anything from character movement and angle to color palette and font can help your designer get on the same page with you (pun intended!). If you have graphic design experience and will be acting as your own designer, you may still want to jot down art notes so you don't forget moments of inspiration when it comes time to design the children's book!
Consider Size and Orientation
Crafting your storyboard or book template can help you determine the ideal size and orientation for your book. There are several different size options from Amazon and IngramSpark, and knowing the orientation (portrait or square) is essential when it comes time to illustrate the storybook.
Children's Book Template and Layout: Final Thoughts
There's no right or wrong way to craft your children's book. You can start with the text in MS Word, or you can start with images and add text later. Some authors do both at once.
When it comes time to start the design process, it helps to know common page counts, word counts, and age range. With all that in mind, you can start solidifying the text, illustrations, and flow of the story by making your own children's book template. Think of this as the first draft of the book. You'll probably change a few things as you go along, but having that first draft to chart your progress can be invaluable — even if you’ve written children's books before!
The four most popular options are Squibler, Scrivener, Google Docs and Microsoft Word. Squibler is the best book writing software because it's designed specifically to help writers write books quickly and easily by providing a full suite of features to support any type of writer working on any kind of story.How do I format my children's books for KDP? ›
Select Import your entire book, including the cover...
Click Create Book from PDF. Go to the File menu and select Save for Publishing. Click Save. This saves a file in MOBI format that's ready to be uploaded to KDP.
Some of the best-known illustration apps are Procreate, Adobe Photoshop Sketch, and Paper. Whether you're working in the digital realm or with pen and paper, mastering a few essential book illustration tools will see you well on your way to developing your own unique style of illustration.How many pages should a children's book have? ›
Picture books are typically 32 pages because books are produced in page-count multiples of eight. However, you will also see some with page counts of 24, 40, or 48 pages. Nonfiction picture books and books for writers with a demonstrated audience tend to run longer.What are the 4 types of children's books? ›
- Picture books. Picture books are targeted at children ages 2 to 8. ...
- Chapter books. Chapter books are for children ages 7 to 9 and they are 4,000-15,000 words in length. ...
- Easy Reader. ...
- Juvenile books. ...
- Middle grade. ...
- Young Adult books.
- Exposition: Setting the scene.
- Rising action: Building the tension.
- Climax: The exciting bit.
- Falling action: Tidying up loose ends.
- Resolution: Ending the story.
|Rank||Book Writing Software||Type|
|2||Google Docs||Word Processing|
I use Scrivener and OmniOutliner to plan and write my novels. I loathe Microsoft Word. What tools do you use?Do I need an editor for my children's book? ›
Once you've written your book, you really need to get an expert's opinion to help you improve it. An editor will be the best investment in your book. After all, I know you love what you've written, but there are so many tricks and techniques to writing that can improve the experience of the reader.What is the minimum pages for a children's book KDP? ›
The minimum page count is 24 pages, and the maximum page count depends on ink, paper, and trim size options.
There is no one answer to this question as the price an Illustrator charges for a children's book will vary depending on the size, complexity, and scope of the project. However, on average, an Illustrator will charge between $300 and $2,000 for a book.How much does a childrens book illustrator cost? ›
How Much Does A Children's Book Illustrator Cost? You can expect to spend at least $500 for a book illustrator if you know where to look and how to find a good illustrator. Sometimes that $500 has included the formatting and cover design as well.How much does an illustrator of a children's book make? ›
Today, children's book Illustrators make an average salary of $50,000 to $70,000. The best paid Illustrators can earn over $100,000. The majority of Illustrators work in the publishing industry, but there is also a growing number of Illustrators who work in advertising and the toy industry.What is the most common children's book size? ›
For example, the common children's book sizes are 8.5” x 8.5” or 7” x 10.” Conversely, the book dimensions for a novella would typically be 5” x 8.” Venture too far out from these standard book sizes and your self-published book might seem out of sync with its genre.How many copies does a children's book sell? ›
Most picture books sell from 5,000-10,000 copies in hardcover and go out of print within two years.What should every children's book have? ›
Here are some criteria for writing a good children's book:
The story is easy to follow for your chosen age-range. The illustrations are high-quality and professional. It's relatable to a wide range of children. It can entertain adults at the same time.
Cover-to-cover. Like a piece of art, a good children's book is greater than the sum of its parts. It is honest, has a sense of wonder, and shows respect for the young child. The text and illustrations are integrated to raise the quality of the book.What type of children's books are in demand? ›
In 2021, a series accounted for two out of every three kids' books sold. Middle-grade books (ages nine through 12) are seeing the highest absolute gains in sales. In 2021, middle-grade books sales were up by 5 million units.What are the 3 characteristics of a children's book? ›
- An Interesting, Relatable Story. The story in a good children's book will be engaging and captivating. ...
- Engaging Language. A good children's book will typically have interesting language. ...
According to Writer's Digest, “The standard is text for 32 pages. That might mean one line per page, or more. 500-600 words is a good number to aim for. When it gets closer to 1,000, editors and agents may shy away.”
A series of 3 books = Trilogy. A series of 4 books = Tetralogy. A series of 5 books = Pentalogy.What are the 7 types of books? ›
- Adventure stories.
- Fairy tales, fables, and folk tales.
- Historical fiction.
- Humour and satire.
- Title page. The title page contains the title of the book, the subtitle, the author or authors, and the publisher.
- Copyright page. ...
- Dedication. ...
- Table of contents. ...
- Foreword. ...
- Acknowledgments. ...
- Preface or Introduction. ...
- Google Docs.
- Kindle Vella.
- Scrivener app.
- Pomodoro Timer.
- Ulysses app.
- Cliché Finder.
- Use black, 12-point, Times New Roman as the font. ...
- Use the U.S. standard page size of 8.5×11 inches and set your margins to 1 inch on all sides. ...
- Set alignment to left justified. ...
- Use a single space after periods. ...
- Use double-spaced line spacing.
#1 – Google Docs. We've looked at the appealing simplicity of Word and the in-depth power of Scrivener, but there's another book writing software that more and more people are starting to use for various reasons: Google Docs. Essentially, Google Docs is a stripped-down version of Word that you can only use online.What writing techniques does J.K. Rowling use? ›
Top Google search results turn up impressionistic descriptions like "JK Rowling's writing is whimsical and rhythmic, with lots of irony and good flow", "her humor is dry and witty", "her writing is very subjective and personal", and "most of the sentence structure feels quite casual".How many hours does J.K. Rowling write a day? ›
We can only work for so long. Pretty much, Rowling writes for six hours a day. That is a good amount of time and acceptable for a writer who is doing this for a living.What technique did J.K. Rowling use? ›
Rowling quite literally puts pen to paper. She revealed that, like many old-fashioned writers, she prefers to write in longhand first then types up her story afterwards.Should I copyright my book before editing? ›
A literary work is copyrighted as soon as the words are written down, typed, or otherwise recorded. Therefore, copyright protection for your novel begins as soon as you have written it. You do not need to place a copyright notice on your book or register it with the copyright office to receive copyright protection.
If you choose to publish your children's book via a vanity publisher, you will need to invest (and quite substantially). Vanity publishers charge anything from $5,000 to $20,000 + to publish your book, with no guarantees for future sales, and sometimes no route to even generate any.Is it better to self-publish or get a publisher for children's books? ›
For 97% of authors, the answer is very clear: self-publishing is the right choice. For the other 1% of authors, the answer is very clear in the other direction: traditional publishing is the better choice.How much does it cost to design a children's book? ›
Pricing on the low end for developmental editing is about $250 USD. On the upper end, I've seen one editor charge as much as $800 for children's books under 1000 words. I've got years and years of experience in the industry, and have helped hundreds of authors from idea to published book, and my pricing starts at $450.What are the 5 parts of a book? ›
These five components are: the characters, the setting, the plot, the conflict, and the resolution. These essential elements keep the story running smoothly and allow the action to develop in a logical way that the reader can follow.Which free software is best for writing a book? ›
- Reedsy Book Editor (word processor, formatting, and conversion) — free.
- FastPencil (word processor and exporter) — free.
- Bibisco (story planning and word processor) — free.
- Evernote (word processor and organizational tool) — free.
A strong plot
A solid story with a strong ending will always grab an editor's attention. Often, plots in children's book submissions trail off or deviate in the middle of a story, or the ending falls flat. Keep things relatively simple - trying to do too much will weaken your plot.
If you're planning to self-publish a children's book, you should plan on investing at least $5,000, but more realistically, more than that, unless you are illustrating or you have a friend or family member who will be doing the illustrating, editing, layout, etc.How much money can you make from a children's book? ›
Now let's look at total children's book income from 2021. This includes advances, royalties and flat fees: As you can see just under half (48.9%) are earning less than $10,000/year, 22.5% are earning between $10K and $20K per year, and 10.7% are earning between $20k and $30k per year.What should a children's book include? ›
- It has an important lesson.
- The story is easy to follow for your chosen age-range.
- The illustrations are high-quality and professional.
- It's relatable to a wide range of children.
- It can entertain adults at the same time.