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How to Publish a Children's Picture Ebook


♫ It's a BIG World After All...

It's a big, big world ♫. And the world of children's book publishing is getting bigger by the minute. It's a world I entered and you can too - right now! Orange juice isn't just for breakfast anymore, and books aren't just on paper either. So look out Random House, here we come! Even though we will probably always love the tangible book because it does so much to please our senses, and even though you, as a writer, might be bent on publishing your book in this traditional way, you might want to awaken the Star-Trek persona within and consider four possibilities for publishing your story:

  • a physical book
  • an e-book
  • an interactive/animated app
  • an audiobook

Any or all four of these can be done through self-publishing or outside publishing, as I like to call it, and each has it's own positive and negative aspects. There is one choice of the four listed that, theoretically, could have little eyes reading your book next week! Can you guess which one? Yep, it's the e-book. Since this is the fastest track and the way I chose to publish my own little story, "Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy," let's start with that. (UPDATE: June 25, 2012: Just heard an interview with Tim Sanders of a network pulling together authors, designers, and markers for ebook publishing.) Be sure to check out Tim Sander's blog.
Word of Caution: The self-publishing industry is presently extremely dynamic and changes with every new device or technological advancement. Since Information can be outdated quickly, it's best to use multiple sources when self-publishing.

And now - on with the show!


Helpful Hints: Kindle Publishing

  • If your book is basically text-based with just a few images, the process of formatting text with images, bullets, etc. is tricky. You can find online instructions, but you could save yourself a great deal of frustration by going to Liber Writer which specializes in Kindle formatting! For only $25, you can work with their software and they'll check the formatting or for $50, they'll handle all the formatting for you. While "Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy," was easy for me to publish myself for Kindle because each page was an image, I decided to go with Liber Writer when publishing a version of "Polly and the Measuring Stick," because I had separate images and separate text that needed to be placed in various positions. I found the guidance through emailing at Liber Writer to be excellent!
  • Be sure to copy the NAME of the file you uploaded to Kindle. Example: lucky22812.doc. Why? Kindle doesn't show you the name of the file you recently uploaded, so you're never sure whether you uploaded new changes unless you have a system for knowing the name of each updated file. And, trust me, you will the need to update the file.

Ready-for-Publishing Checklist

1. You know your book's category:

  • Picture book
    - 250 words to 1,000 words
  • Early reader
    - 1,000 and 4,000 words
  • Chapter book
    -10,000 and 15,000 words
  • Middle grade novel/nonfiction
    -25,000 to 40,000 words
  • Book for teens/young adults
    -50,000 to 70,000 words

√ 2. You perhaps have had a professional critique of your book through a service like "Second Draft" at Writer's Digest - (only $39.99 for a picture book critique).

3. You've read the Ten Frequently Asked Questions about Children's Publishing and Types of Publishers featured free online at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Perhaps you've even become a member for only $85 a year!

4. You have edited and proofread your manuscript and have had every living soul who would indulge you read your story. (Your Aunt Sue on Facebook might even find that the published version has a MISSING WORD!) It happens. I know!


- for KINDLE with Amazon
You could quite possibly put your picture book or manuscript up in the Amazon Store for Kindle TODAY! How?

  • Sign up with Kindle Direct Publishing and click on the "Bookshelf" and then "Add new title." Click on the blue links connected to the blanks for quick access to your questions. Skip down to #5, "Upload Your Book File." Even though you're not ready to upload, this is the fastest way to get to the publishing guidelines and the simplified guide for formatting. Read those instructions again, and at least one or a hundred times more!
  • Reduce any image sizes with your favorite graphics program to 72 dpi. (This makes the files more manageable for Kindle). The marvelous artist who I found to illustrate "Lucky..." assumed, as did I, that I would be publishing a physical book! The images I had received, therefore were: 1800 x 2700 pixels, 300 dpi with the text embedded. (See examples of embedded text and un-embedded text images below). When I decided to publish for Kindle, I had to first reduce those images to 72 dpi with my favorite graphics program, JASC Paintshop Pro.
  • Next, simply start a new Word Document using the INSERT PICTURE feature rather than cut and paste. Go back to Kindle publishing page, upload your document, and check your book in "Preview Document" section. If your book looks great, click "Save and continue" and complete the form. Kindle will convert your .doc or .pdf document to its .azw format. You'll need to wait 24 hours for your upload to be reviewed. If approved, your book is then immediately available in the Amazon store and you can go back to KDP's "Reports" and see if you have any sales!

Positives in Publishing an E-book for Kindle:
+ Rapid Publication: There is nothing like the feeling of knowing that within 24 hours, some child might be enjoying a story that you actually created!
+ Ability to view sales and manage files immediately right at Kindle Direct. When a company like Book Baby creates your e-book for you, you're locked into their reporting system and can't change prices as quickly as you can with at Kindle Direct.

Negatives in Publishing an E-book for Kindle:
- Difficulty in obtaining direct support from KDP. There is no one to call and the forums are not easy to navigate. The FAQ's don't answer all the "Q's" you might have!
- In order to be in Kindle's newest program, KDP Select, you must have your e-book published with them exclusively.

page from "Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy"

page from "Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy"

Embedded text by an author looks fantastic for a physical book and even on the Kindle, Nook, and iPad screens. However, little four-year-olds are "reading books on smartphones as "read-to-me" narrated books or as "read it myself" stories. It's easy to see from the picture above that if we take off the text, the picture would be perfect for a smartphone. However, where do we put the text now? Clearly, the text is connected with the image on the left from "Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy" is too overwhelming to add on the bottom for the smartphone. Therefore, be sure to decide beforehand on all of the formats in which you wish to publish: print book, ebook for smart phones, narrated apps, etc. More importantly, be sure to COMMUNICATE with your artist, letting him or her know all of the various forms you wish the book to take. As a writer, viewing the excellent video below by artist John Morrel will help to get a feeling for the tremendous knowledge and talent-base your artist possesses and decisions that both of you, as a team, need to make.

- for NOOK with Barnes and Noble
Self-publishing with the Nook is also possible and the procedure is similar to Kindle. However, there is an additional step to follow when submitting your files for the Nook. While you can still upload a word document, it is suggested that you convert your file to an .epub instead. There are several software programs such as Calibre that will allow you to convert your .doc or your .pdf to .epub.

- for IPad with Apple
There is an excellent video on creating a book with Book Creator from Apple. However, it appears as if narration is not yet available as of 2015. While the FAQs state that you can sell a book created with Book Creator in the itunes store. if you already created your ebook, it was difficult for me to get into the Apple IBookstore. This is the reason that, after self-publishing my e-book with Amazon for Kindle and Barnes and Noble for the Nook, I ended up going to The developers created a .mobi file that can be download from Apple through itunes.

- for the Desktop Computer and Android
Years before e-readers such as Kindle, Nook, Sony, and the IPad appeared on the scene, writers were creating dynamic, narrated, "page-turning" e-books with Desktop Author software. I personally loved using this software and found it quite intuitive. It was the only way I was able to create narrated stories at the time. As of 2017, however, it seems as if the only way to get the software is through download stores such as You can search around and try this software out. The ebooks created with Desktop Author do require the downloading of "a reader," plus they are compatible only with PCs and the newest MACs. This happens to be the first way that I published "Lucky..." because I was familiar with the software and because we had a website through which I could sell this narrated e-book. Since that time, I created a narrated version of "Lucky..." with Windows PowerPoint and then converted it to a video. While it doesn't have the page turning effect that Desktop Author had, it seems to be a more accessible way to create a NARRATED ebook. A sample of my book can be found below.

Scroll to Continue


Unless your e-book makes a terrific splash in the digital world, it probably will never be picked up by a print book publisher. If your sole purpose is to get your book published as quickly as possible, the e-book route is the fast track you can take. If, however, you have time on your side and desire a wider distribution, skilled marketing, and more prestige, the process of submitting your manuscript to respected publishers of physical books, as described below, might be for you.

»» Publishing Physical Book with Smaller Publishing House

So you don't have a literary agent? Not to despair. You can submit unsolicited manuscripts to a whole host of smaller publishers of children's books. This list can be found in "the most trusted guide to the world of children's publishing: the 2012 Children's Writer's and Illustator's Market.

Positives: You'll probably see your book in book stores like Barnes and Noble, you'll have distribution and marketing done for you like the larger publishers do, plus you'll have a real live physical book to read to schools, distribute to friends and family, and prove forever that you are, in fact, a writer!
Negatives:You'll need utmost patience to submit to multiple publishers. You'll need to craft query letters, keep track of to whom you sent what, and if you've submitted to a source that doesn't accept simultaneous submissions, you'll have to wait until they respond to you until you send out your next submission. This can take months and months, even years! (Did you notice the "WAIT" on the diagram below?)

Submitting to Publishers

(Text on image added by this author)

(Text on image added by this author)

»» through a Large Publisher


  • unparalleled prestige that comes from having your book published by a company like Random House or Houghton Mifflin
  • mass distribution/marketing
  • notoriety that will propel your writing career


  • large publishing houses do not accept unsolicited manuscripts from individuals!
  • the longest and most difficult process

To publish with a large, well-know publisher, you would need to first acquire a literary agent. There are numerous books on how to acquire an agent or how to be your own agent. Either way, this is a long process. (You might compare it with your desire to star opposite Jennifer Aniston or Jason Segel in their next movie. It can happen - I'm just sayin'... (Did you notice the "WAIT" on the diagram to the right?)

»» Self-Publishing Your Physical Book

You can publish your book yourself. The self-publishing and self-promotion process is excellently described by fellow hub writer, Rochelle Frank, in the article "We Self-Published a Children's Book." While Rochelle Frank and Linda Gast personally funded 2600 copies and created their own inventory, there are companies like Trafford, Lulu, and others that will publish a print-on-demand book for you. Dogear Publishing has various packages from $1099 to $3499, and Book Baby has just announced a custom book printing service. Be sure to explore various companies, their prices, and get copies of the books they've produced. You'll find the latter request almost an impossibility. When looking for a print-on-demand publisher for a tangible version of my illustrated story, "Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy" I was shocked at the cost per book. If your book has 24 colored pictures your cost per book will most likely be above $10. Of course, retail stores require a 50% discount, so your book is now up to $20 for your customers. You might not think that is too bad considering your vision of those nice hard-covered books at Barnes and Noble. But wait, $11 will get you a book with merely a flimsy, albeit glossy cover - not even the thickness of the old Golden Books sold in grocery stores. You can do what I plan to do and go to and create a little video and see if you can raise sufficient funds to self-publish your tangible book.

Positives: A tangible book, once again, gives you credibility and an easy way to distribute your book to shops and bookstores.

Negatives: The financial outlay can be prohibitive, marketing and promoting will be largely your own responsibility, and again, there's the waiting involved for this whole process to gel.

Update 07/2014: I DID it! See video at end of this article.


Positively THE Most Exciting

As a former teacher, I see interactive books as the most exciting development for writers. The software for creating such books changes so fast that a website I had suggested when I first wrote this article, seems to have gone by the wayside. "Bill the Fish" below was created by Interactbooks, but you'll be hard pressed to find out what happened to that company,

A 2019 google search provides a guide to software which they rate as among the five best for creating interactive books for children.

Often it helps to use several word combinations in your google search to get to the pages that can help you the most in your quest for interactive books. Words to include in your search: interactive, children's, ebook, app, narrated, animated,
how to, create, software. Mix the words up in various ways until you find what you're looking for.

It's really quite a brave new world out there. Apple has a piece of software called Ibooks Author which the amazingly talented children book illustrator and comic creator, Dani Jones, has reviewed on her learning page within her comprehensive blog. This Apple software, however, can be used only on the newest versions of MAC at the present moment. Ibuildapp also offers a free software program with which to create an app for the iphone and android, and as of this date, this author is blogging about that experience in the belief that much can be learned from others' mistakes! There is an excellent step-by-step process for Blackberry app building published as a blog entry by W.T. Paige which is quite advanced, but provides information that the novice can use as well. But if you prefer not add learning multi-media publishing to your list of a thousand other tasks, and if you have the money, you might just want to hire your own software engineer who has skill in developing apps for multi-media books. You can do this through online searches or just look around for someone skilled in this area at

Crazy Mike's App Review of "Bill the Fish" created with software from

How to Create with Pubbsoft Software


Writers often overlook this relatively easy way to publish! All you need is a good quality microphone like Sennheiser, your computer, an editing program like Audacity, and your voice! If just getting your book listened to is your goal, you can publish your book for free distribution. For the audio for my children's book, I hired my daughter and her fiance,' both of whom happen to be actors in Hollywood, and our son who happens to be a sound engineer! You can see pictures of that process (done at home) at Lucky's website. You might want to think about creating a podcast where you not only feature your book in audio form, but interview other children book authors about their process (ahem) and talk about your own process.

«« Points to Ponder »»

I love the phrase from 'Maybe the sole purpose of my life is to serve as a warning to others.' My journey in publishing "Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy" is on-going and in researching this article, I've found emails from, Smashwords, Trafford Publishing, Desktop Author, Bookbaby, interactbooks, ibuildapp, and probably others whose names I've long forgotten. It made me realize that my experiences can serve as "a warning" in the form of a "wish-I-had-known" list, especially for those of you embarking on publishing a children's picture book.

I Wish I had Known That:

  1. It's important to decide what form your book should take, physical, e-book, interactive.
  2. You don't need artwork, nor should you submit artwork to the publisher of physical books unless you are a professional artist. (However, if you self-publish a children's picture e-book, of course you do need artwork. See #5 in Billie's Recommendations below.)
  3. Most print-on-demand publishers offer a mere glossy cover for your picture book as opposed to a nice hard cover you might have envisioned. You'd need a large cash outlay to go with a regular printing of your book.
  4. Formatting an e-book is difficult if each page is not an image. Having said that, image-only pages for picture books create problems as well, particularly the issue of embedded versus non-embedded text that arises as explained in #5.
  5. If you wish to create a children's book for smartphone publication, embedded text can be a problem. When an image is downsized to fit the tiny screen of a cellphone, text embedded with an image is un-readable. Teknowlege has created some narrated apps of children's stories on Blackberry which provide text on the bottom of the screen. In addition, if you have embedded text, you are dependent on your illustrator to make any changes such as a translation to a different language. Download some children's e-books on your smartphone and this problem will become apparent.
  6. In order to make a story interactive for smartphones, the art work needs to have been done in LAYERS.

Billie's Book Publishing Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. You need a literary agent to submit to most large book publishers like Random House, Houghton Mifflin, etc.
    • yes
    • no
  2. You can see a record of your book sales almost immediately after publishing with Kindle Direct Publishing.
    • yes
    • no
  3. Formatting an Ebook is quite easy.
    • Yes. Just submit a regular document and you're done!
    • No. You have to be careful about using the tabs, image wrapping, etc.
  4. You can expect to sell approximately 25 e-books a week if your book is published for Kindle, or Nook, etc.
    • Yes, easily without much of an effort at all. Just publish you're book and the sales will come.
    • Not without a great deal of promotion, blogging, social networking, etc.(unless it's about vampires!)
  5. I have to give my e-book away free to get a "buzz" going.
    • This is an approach that has worked for authors
    • No, never give a book away for free
  6. I need a Kindle Reader to see what I've published on Kindle.
    • Yes. You need each individual device on which you publish your e-book
    • No. Kindle, Nook, etc. have downloadable readers for you PC or MAC
  7. Android, Blackberry, IPhones all use the same files for publishing
    • Yes, you can create a "smartphone" file and publish on all smartphones.
    • No. Each smartphone reads a different type of file.
  8. Desk Top Author can convert its files to Android
    • Yes, DTA can convert the book you make with its software for an ANDROID phone, but NOT with sound files.
    • No, a file created using Desk Top Author can only be run on a computer.
  9. You need your images in layers if you want to make your book interactive?
    • Yes
    • No
  10. I can get funds to help me publish my book.
    • Yes! Go to and view the projects that are funded!
    • No. In this economy there is very little help for authors.

Answer Key

  1. yes
  2. yes
  3. No. You have to be careful about using the tabs, image wrapping, etc.
  4. Not without a great deal of promotion, blogging, social networking, etc.(unless it's about vampires!)
  5. This is an approach that has worked for authors
  6. No. Kindle, Nook, etc. have downloadable readers for you PC or MAC
  7. No. Each smartphone reads a different type of file.
  8. Yes, DTA can convert the book you make with its software for an ANDROID phone, but NOT with sound files.
  9. Yes
  10. Yes! Go to and view the projects that are funded!

Billie's Top Five Personal Recommendations

1. If you are submitting your manuscript to publishers of physical books, aim for five rejections a month! Unless you get at least that many rejections a month, you're not submitting enough.

2. If you just can't wait to have your children's picture book published, I would publish immediately at Amazon for Kindle. Why?

  • You will experience a great deal of satisfaction immediately
  • You'll be able to see the statistics right away which will give you an idea of how to proceed.
  • You can remove your book at any time from Kindle, and you'll have gained a great deal of experience. However, be sure to read the "Caution" note above.

3. If you have decided to publish an e-book either by yourself or through an e-book publishing company, download the excellent manual on e-book publishing from immediately. It gives an excellent overview of e-book publishing in a well-written format. You can do all of the formatting for each device yourself, but If you choose to go with a company for conversion of your files, I would highly recommend Book Baby. In researching this article, I reviewed my copious list of companies I had contacted for publishing "Lucky..." for the iPad and other devices. I realize there is a reason that I ended up working with Book Baby and that reason is their personal, phone-based and email customer service. But hurry before the company grows too large and the personal email or phone response time slows down.

4. Start the buzz for your self-published book or e-book. How?

  • Blog religiously on your favorite blog site. Offer some wisdom to fellow writers.
  • Write hubs about your process
  • Ask other hub writers to review your book. Search for someone on hubpages who might have an interest in your book. (If it's a children's book, for example, search for hubs on parenting, homeschooling, etc. A review by that type of "target audience" expert, would be helpful.) Authors of other books of your genre are wonderful; however, always think about the audience you intend to reach as readers!
  • Create a Facebook page just for your book (go to bottom of FB screen to start)
  • Figure out how to get customers who have purchased your book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. to write reviews in those stores.
  • Volunteer to read your book to schools and become a speaker who can explain the process and empower others.

5. If you need an artist for your e-book, don't shy away from craigslist. I was shocked at the large number of responses (17) that I received from professional artists after describing a few basic concepts of my story in the ad. I received little sketches and/or websites that featured wonderful art and precise quotes for 24 images. The most difficult part was finding just the right person among all the responses to make "Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy," come alive and I did!

Above all, as a writer or illustrator know that your work is noble for: "The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won, than by the stories it loves and believes in." ~Harold Goddard

*Reference for Ebook Publishing

StoreReaderFile Type You May Submit



.doc or pdf

Barnes and Noble


suggested: .epub


iPad, iPhone

.epub converted with ituneproducer

Children and Digital Books


akhandram on January 16, 2019:

nice information, this information is very useful to me. anybody wants extra informaton visit our website

Billie Kelpin (author) from Newport Beach on December 09, 2017:

Surfbay, Thank you for your comment. I wrote this article several years ago. While much of the information is still pertinent, I would encourage you to check with the Society of Book Writers and Illustrators and other sources on the web. Also, if you can find a writing group in your area, other writers can be of great help. All good wishes.

Surfbay from Principality of Wales on November 17, 2017:

Thank You very much. A must impressive and timely HubPage and fascinating topic.

Perhaps when I have read your output several times I may have a go at it myself.

Good luck and Best wishes

Irenevosburgh from Philadelphia, PA on September 24, 2017:

Thank you for this article. I have 2 children's books that were originally in print but I wanted to make them into an eBook. I've marked this for further reading and studying.

Billie Kelpin (author) from Newport Beach on June 21, 2017:

Thank you so much, Plexiana,

Please note, however, that this was written several years ago. Some of the specifics may have changed. I would say that the most important part of this article is knowing exactly the kind of children's book you're publishing. There is a marvelous writer in our writing group who thought she was publishing a picture book because she could visualize the various scenes that she would like an artist to design, but her book was really a chapter book. Marketing a children's book is a LOT of work. I wish at times, I had been able to find a publisher instead of self-publish. The upside of that is that the book is out there. Most importantly, I learned from friends that publishing your SECOND book sells your first.

Plexiana on June 18, 2017:

Very helpful information! Thank you!

Billie Kelpin (author) from Newport Beach on January 15, 2017:

grand old lady, Thank you so much for your comment. I read your profile page and it is VERY impressive. This article was written several years ago and I haven't really revisited it. Your comment led me to think that I should confer with some of the friends I have met recently who have published children's books to update any information they would advise. I do think if I had to do it all o ver again, I would shop around for a publisher since self-publishing requires such a great deal of marketing by an author and all an author wants to do is write more books!!! Keep in touch. I have a blog at where some of my other work resides.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on January 14, 2017:

This is a wonderful article full of so much helpful information for children's book writers. I am so grateful that you generously shared what you have learned from your own, personal experience as a children's book writer. Thank you very much:)

James from The Eastern Bypass on September 15, 2015:

wow! I now have the information i have searching for day and nights.THANKS ALOT.I willl apply the above skills to enhance my writing capacity

Billie Kelpin (author) from Newport Beach on July 16, 2015:

Tillsontitan. Hold the presses! Here's the problem with the ebook: SALES! I have very few. When I published "Lucky..." as a print book AFTER the ebook, I was able to sell a few more. Either way, It's promotion, promotion, promotion. A friend in the OC Writer's group, Diane Rogers, is doing a WONDERFUL job of marketing her book "Stand Tall". She has been reading it to many schools, etc. etc. Take a look at her website. You can do both through bookbaby. You can get great customer service. You'll probably get to talk to Nikola along the way if you use them - very helpful. Reviews are very important. When you get to that point, I'd review it if you like. Just was at a workshop that stressed the importance of many reviews on Amazon. People respect reviews. The quote I heard is not to fear negative reviews. The one negative review translates to the view of 5 positives. It gives your book more credibility. Looking forward to reading about your progress!

Mary Craig from New York on July 07, 2015:

How wonderful to have your published book! I have written a children's book and had it edited. I have been trying to decide about doing an ebook and I think you've just made up my mind for me!

Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

Billie Kelpin (author) from Newport Beach on April 10, 2015:

Tiffanyrose, Thank you for your "thank you" :) I'm trying to update as things change. We're working on a new narrated app right now. I haven't found a perfect means for making a children's book narrated app without hiring software engineers. My husband is one, but has other projects going on. In a way, I wish I had spent money on a hard cover right off, and perhaps wish I had submitted it to children's book publishers more aggressively. The promotion of a children's book is difficult, but very do-able from what I hear from other authors.

tiffanyrose2015 on April 09, 2015:

Nice article! Thanks for sharing so much useful information about publishing children's books.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on February 22, 2015:

What an informative hub. I may never write a children's book but I enjoyed your sharing of your experience. I now have an appreciation of what people go through to publish a book.

Billie Kelpin (author) from Newport Beach on October 29, 2014:

Jodah, so glad you found this helpful - made me feel good today! Cheers, Billie

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on October 29, 2014:

I know I commented here, but it hasn't shown up. Anyway great hub. I too have provided text for children's picture books so found this helpful.

Billie Kelpin (author) from Newport Beach on October 28, 2014:

Askformore, Thanks so much. I had to add some new information which I'll address here. If you publish with Bookbaby be sure to read their helpful guide and blogs, etc. For 2 years, I was too busy to read that information and just last week by reading an OLD email from themI discovered a link to different reviewers. Very helpful!