Publish Your Children's Picture Book
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Publish Your Children's Picture Book

Step-by-step instruction guides you to write, revise, illustrate, design, and publish your children's picture book.
4.7 (21 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
306 students enrolled
Created by Demi Stevens
Last updated 6/2015
Current price: $10 Original price: $195 Discount: 95% off
5 hours left at this price!
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  • 4 hours on-demand video
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Craft stronger, tighter children's picture book stories
  • Confidently illustrate your own book, or quickly and easily find professional illustrators at 1/10th of the cost.
  • Professionally design your own book's interior and cover
  • Get your book in print for <$5 (+s/h)
View Curriculum
  • Early lessons will guide you through the writing process. It is not necessary to have a completed first draft before beginning the course.

Imagine the amazing feeling in your future when that special child in your life is being tucked in at night and looks up into your eyes and says, “Tell me a story…" and you bring out your very own book, read the title, watch the child touch its glossy cover and ask, “Is this the book you wrote for me???"

In this easy-to-follow-along course, you'll learn how to not only write the book of your dreams, but to revise, illustrate, design, and publish your most compelling children's picture book.

  1. Learn editor and publisher Demi Stevens' ninja-stealth trick to writing better and faster 1st drafts.
  2. Write your book, step by step. You'll also learn industry-insider tips to revising so your very next draft becomes a polished manuscript - ready to roll!
  3. Make your book's text and story line really shine on the page, complete with done-for-you Book Templates which make it DIY simple.
  4. Find your book's perfect illustrator, along learn tried-and-true techniques which allow even grade school students to illustrate their own titles with success. You'll also learn how to perfectly scan those finished illustrations and insert them in your book's digital file.
  5. Walk step-by-step through basic, intermediate, and pro techniques to polish your book's text and illustrations.
  6. Get your book in print! BONUS GUARANTEE: When you use this method, your book will be made available for sale on Amazon worldwide.

And… if your dream is larger than just reading your book to that special child in your life… you'll have the skills you need to move forward on a career as a PUBLISHED AUTHOR… or even to open an independent publishing company of your own.

The choice is up to you! Your journey begins today!

Who is the target audience?
  • Perfect for writers who have struggled to get their story down in print, or move it beyond the first draft.
  • This course is ideal for writers who want to self-publish multiple books.
  • Ideal for DIY enthusiasts who love creating new things.
  • Perfect for parents and grandparents who want to create a legacy item for their children and grandchildren.
  • Absolutely ideal for teachers who could utilize course information inside their classrooms (grades 4+) to help students write, illustrate, design, and publish their own books.
  • This course is NOT for the technology-phobic. You will receive step-by-step instruction for each process, but students MUST be willing to embrace technology!
Compare to Other Writing a Book Courses
Curriculum For This Course
26 Lectures
Getting Started
2 Lectures 12:50

I'm super excited to be your guide on this journey to starting and FINISHING the children's picture book you've always dreamed of writing. Not only that, you're going to get all the tools you need to find an illustrator – or gain the confidence to step out and produce your OWN illustrations – for this one-of-a-kind experience.

Perhaps you're writing this story with a child, a niece or nephew, or a grandchild of your own in mind. There's also a possibility that young person in your life might be your book's most PERFECT illustrator. We'll talk about all the options in a later video in the course.

Best of all, through this series you're going to learn how you can take those finished illustrations and the text of your story and turn them into a beautiful, full-color, professionally printed and bound book you can HOLD IN YOUR HANDS!

I want you to imagine for just a moment that amazing feeling in your future when that special child in your life is being tucked in a night and looks up into your eyes and says, “Tell me a story…”

…and you bring out your very own book, read the title, watch the child touch its glossy cover and ask, “Is this the story you wrote for ME???”

Wow… that's my dream for you!

I'm also going to show you how you can get copies of your own professionally printed and bound softcover book – for less than the price of a pumpkin spice latte – and… if your dream is larger than just reading your book to that special child in your life… I'll also teach you how to take that beautiful book and launch it for sale through Amazon, the world's largest bookseller. Your title can be made available in countries throughout the world, as well libraries and retail stores.

The choice is up to you!

And your journey begins today!

As you progress through this course, I encourage you to watch just ONE next video… and then DO the assignment from the lesson. Believe me, I understand the temptation to want to take in as much information as possible, to want to learn the process inside and out, but I can tell you from life experience as a paid professional researcher… there's no learning that happens faster than when you actually PUT THE LESSON INTO PRACTICE!

When you study a lesson, and then DO THE ASSIGNMENT, you are going to achieve the success you desire at an accelerated pace and REACH YOUR DREAM of becoming a published author in record time.

I invite you to use the area below the video to add your comments and questions after each lesson. I will be reading and personally responding to you there as we move together through the course. We'll also be cheering each other on… so be sure and congratulate other writers on their success through the steps, or encourage them through any tough times. They'll be there for you as well when you need it! And of course I'll be here to help, at every step along the journey.

Let's get started! I'll see you right away in our next short video where you'll get your first lesson and assignment!

Preview 03:32

Welcome back to your journey on the path to becoming a published children's picture book author.

In today's lesson, you're probably going to get a surprise revelation. I'll reveal it a little later.

In my day to day career, I'm blessed to work with authors who write in every genre for every age group. The one thing I can tell you for sure is that the authors just sitting down to start their non-fiction and fiction books… HATE you right about now.

They're looking out at their 40k, or 50k, or 60-thousand word goals… maybe excited, but probably a little scared… and then they cast their eyes over at your shining visage… with a mere 500-or-so-word goal… and their pulse starts to rise, their jaws clench, and pretty soon they're getting inspiration for writing the next big fight scene in their lengthy book.

But now's when I want to point out to you that quantity of words NEVER defines quality, and your job is every bit as challenging as theirs.

You see, I've known children's book authors who finished the first draft of their picture books in – wait for it… no-kidding – 20 minutes, but still spent more than a decade revising it and getting illustrations together.

That's not going to happen to you. Because I've got a plan for you, and you're going to find a way to take that initial plan and tweak it for your own success.

Now… while I always tell those other two groups to start writing here at the beginning… I have different advice for you. Because chances are 100% that you'll write a better first draft after working through this assignment than if you just pressed down the gas pedal on your children's book.

On the right hand side of your course screen, if you scroll down, you're going to find a Downloads section. In that area, you'll see a document called Children's Top 25. When you click on that file name, it will automatically begin to download to your computer, and depending upon your default settings, it may open up in a new window of your internet browser, or in a new window on your desktop, or you may have to go to your Downloads folder or a link at the bottom of your screen to open it.

For this lesson, I'm attaching a short list of children's books which have achieved honor and praise, and are absolutely BELOVED by kids and caregivers. This list is not meant to be the end-all-be-all of picture books. It's not meant to include only books that have won prestigious writing and illustrating awards like the Caldecott or the Newberry medals. Sure, those books may exhibit some noteworthy stuff, but this list is chock full of titles children want to read AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN… which is exactly what you want YOUR BOOK to do!

Here's one of the BIG SURPRISES you're going to get from this assignment. Because I don't just help folks write books, I also teach you how to write your BEST books, and how to do it in the most efficient way possible… because I want you to spend LESS time worrying about your story and if it's ever going to get done, and MORE time enjoying being a published author of a book you're PROUD to call your own.

SO…. Before you craft so much as a single word of your own children's book, I want you to go out to a book store or on a library field trip, I want you to LOOK at books from the list in the Downloads section (and other books like the one you want to write), and answer some very basic (yet extremely revealing) questions about successful books in your genre.

Remember, you can download the list and questionnaire from the Downloads area on the right as you scroll down. Print out that list (or send a copy to your cell phone or mobile device to take with you) and look for those exact titles – or you can simply go off on a quest of your own for books on a similar topic as your proposed book, or even just random books in your genre.

Remember, in children's books, there are several genres:

Board books, picture books, non-fiction picture books, easy readers, chapter books, graphic novels, and juvenile fiction.

In this course, we're working on just children's PICTURE BOOKS – either fiction or non-fiction. Focus your research on books most closely aligned with your goal… and focus on those books which are most successful at making children happy… because that's what you want YOUR BOOK to do!

The second page of the handout is a quick fill-in-the-blank questionnaire. PRINT THIS ONE OUT (because you can't fill it in on your cell phone.) Take a copy with you to the book store or library so you can write down your answers while you're perusing the shelves. To answer one of the questions, you'll also need a small ruler or tape-measure, so grab one of those from your desk before you head out, too.

Here are some of the questions from that handout, and TWO MORE surprise moments from this first assignment whose answers tend to raise the highest eyebrows for my new writing students:

  • What's the picture book's total word-count?

I love it when picture book authors-in-training bring me their 2,000-word “polished” drafts. “It's done,” they say.

This is COMPLETELY normal. Standard operating procedure.

But so far off-base, and here's why.

Take Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. This classic bedtime tale was read to my child at no less than 100 bedtimes. He and I can both recite it.

Total word count? 61

“Ridiculous,” you say. “I'm sure there must be more words than that!” Well, go to the bookshelf and count them for yourself.

How about Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat? That's a perennial favorite, and it's a darned long one by modern standards.

It weighs in at a hefty 1,626 words.

But what's fascinating about Dr. Seuss – and makes it INFINITELY readable and memorable, is that in that 1,626 words, he only uses a vocabulary of 236 different words.

221 of those consist of only 1-syllable.

That leaves 15 words that are polysyllabic. 14 of them have 2-syllables, and only 1 – the word “another” – has 3-syllables.

Next: How much time passes in the course of the book?

I see lots of first-time picture book authors struggling with stories that time-lapse over a calendar season, or even an entire year.

How about Goodnight Moon? Maybe two minutes, if you walked around the house touching each object. Or if you read really slow.

Cat in the Hat? An afternoon.

Question 3) How many sentences of text appear on a page?

If you're plotting a children's picture book, this is super important for two reasons:

  • The caregiver needs to be able to read the whole page out loud before the child gets bored and wants to turn the page, and
  • There needs to be space on the page after your text is typed in a legible font-size so the illustrator has room enough to create intriguing and engaging images to draw the reader into your book's world.

So, unless you're writing something other than a picture book, your answer to this question NEEDS to be in the single-digits, and most of the time it needs to be a number you can count on one hand.

Okay, now I know you are a smart cookie, and I know you not only want to write your children's book, but you want to position your book for success… so even if you spend all day every day reading children's books, I want you to spend just a few minutes this week looking at the answers to some very specific questions.

Print out the questionnaire from the Download section on the right, and take it with you to the shelf to answer 8 questions for at least 3 different books in your topic area.

If you're writing a children's non-fiction book, then look only at non-fiction.

I'd love to see your comments, reflections, and realizations below, so drop me a line to let me know what you think of this lesson… and of course what you've discovered on your research trip. Can't wait to see how much FASTER and EASIER your book project comes together after you've spent just a few minutes finishing up this assignment.

Preview 09:18
Writing Your Story
4 Lectures 39:28

Welcome back! I hope you had a terrific and informative time exploring successful children's books in your genre.

With your list of answers to those 8 simple questions, you're ready to start crafting the text of your own books, now better informed about reader expectations.

If your story will include rhymed text, you may enjoy making lists in the margins of your working draft. It's probably not necessary to buy a rhyming dictionary though – because honestly, you should try to stick to 1- or 2-syllable words most of the time – and a single pass-through the alphabet with your vowel combination ought to do the trick.

I've included a handout in today's Downloads section just for working with rhyming words. You can find it in your lesson by scrolling down on the right.

Of course your story doesn't have to rhyme, but since the text of many children's picture books do, I wanted to be sure and include information to help you get through the stickiest parts.

To give you an idea for how you might start to write your book, I thought I'd share first-draft pages from one of my own children's books with you – and talk you through the process I used. You can improvise, substitute techniques of your own, or use the method identically. Whatever works!

Get out a sheet of paper and a pencil now. You'll probably get inspired to start writing your story while you're watching this video… and that's PERFECT. You can press pause on your screen or just let it continue to play in the background.

Either way, you're going to get everything you need to sit down and write the first draft of your children's book TODAY.

At the top of my page, I wrote down the one over-arching theme I wanted to carry throughout the book. Folks want to write a book… and stuff keeps getting in the way.

My target audience is of course, children, but also frustrated writers of any age.

I also wanted to bring in a play on words using WRITE – w-r-i-t-e – and RIGHT – r-i-g-h-t.

Since most people get sidetracked on the way to reaching their writing goals, I thought it would be fun to show how a make-believe character deals with the same kinds of roadblocks, but finds a way – using his imagination – to turn those roadblocks into building blocks to help him reach his goal.

I figured the lesson would be better delivered by a “childlike” character – so I pictured my little protagonist as a young mouse who lives at home with his parents. He's very respectful, even when interrupted. They are his parents, after all. And so this gave me the idea that no matter what he's asked, he'll reply, “Right away!”

I wrote the opening line – no fuss, no muss:

Melvin dreams of writing

About his hunk of cheese.

That was the beginning and the end of no fuss, no muss for me. I took my cell phone with me on a 25-minute walk and used a recording app to help me remember lines as I was coming up with them, and then transcribed stuff onto paper when I got back home.

I wanted my book to be easy to remember and something a child and caregiver could read again and again. In short, I wanted it to rhyme.

So I took the last word of that first section and wrote it at the bottom of my page:

Cheese – then I started at the beginning of the alphabet and tried to make words that end in “eez.”

A+eez = nope

B+eez = bees, yep

Could've made Breeze, too, but I didn't think of it at the time.

C+eez = nope

D+eez = nope

E+eez = way nope.

F+eez = fees

Well, I forgot Freeze, too, but then I wasn't desperate enough. Looking back now, I could've also had fleas, peas, and skis in addition to my quick list.

I circled any words that looked like possibilities and set about the second sentence.

Started out aiming for “please”.

Its taste, its color, and its smell

His senses does it please.

Uh… wow. Nope, not going to channel Shakespeare.

So I tried reversing the verb and pronoun

His sense it does please

Dude, that's even worse.

So I abandoned “please” and tried for “knees.”

Its taste, its color, and its smell

Just bring him to his knees.

Yeah, I could see that. And that's important in a picture book… it's important to SEE it.

My little mouse, bowing down in adoration of a big hunk of Swiss goodness.

Then I needed to show some tension in the story.

I started with But things kept getting in his way.

I left that idea pretty quick because it didn't fit the 2-line rhyme scheme I'd just set up. Not that it had to, but I chose to move away, and never decided to go back. Sometimes it's good to follow your instincts, and ALWAYS it's good to keep moving forward instead of stopping to dwell on one little word or phrase.

So I went ahead to the people who would ask Melvin to do stuff that would interrupt his writing goal:

His mother

His father

His teacher

His coach

His grandma

Now bear in mind, I had no idea what would go with the directions but I picked out some things those types of people might ask him to do.

Clean his room

Take out the trash

Answer a question

Pass the ball

I imagined my parents asking me and realized they'd probably start by saying my name.

In fact, I usually got the FULL name treatment – Demetra Ann Baferos… blah, blah, blah.

So next I wrote out the dialogue:

"Melvin, clean up your room!"

~Right away, Mom.

“Melvin, take out the trash!”

~Right away, Dad.

“Melvin, answer the question!”

~Right away, Teacher.

“Melvin, pass the ball!”

~Right away, Coach.

Then in the margin I had a little brain fart about how I could create text that would set up each of those little scenes – and be something the kids would quickly learn and be able to say right along with the caregiver who was reading it by the 2nd or 3rd time it comes around.

A stop, a start, "Don't fall apart,"

He tells himself, and

Then I went back to the beginning and tried to read it all together…

Melvin dreams of writing

About his hunk of cheese.

Its taste, its color, and its smell

Just bring him to his knees.

A stop, a start, "Don't fall apart,"

Oh wait, I realized… I hadn't gotten Melvin STARTED writing yet.

I needed to set up a better intro to him getting interrupted.

So then I wrote,

With pen in hand he writes away

Until he hears his mother say...

Now that had some elements of things that could repeat in the text between scenes. Melvin gets started, then he gets interrupted! Perfect! Just like real life!

With pen in hand he writes away

Until he hears his father say...

And that's when it struck me that Melvin could have superpowers.

Well, not really. Just a good imagination. You see most kids wouldn't write with a pen… so I was already off..

No… he needs a crayon when his mom interrupts him!

But what if when he's doing what she asked him – cleaning his room – he could find something playful to fuel his writing adventure?

So I gave him a fancy pen that he'd find.

And when his dad sent him out to the trash, he'd find a notebook in which to write his masterpiece. And when his teacher asked him a question he'd learn to spell a word he might need for his book.

Okay, I also had a sense that Melvin's grandma was going to be the one to ultimately come to his rescue. The wisdom of years…

"Melvin, just sit down!

…And write!”

To which Melvin would naturally reply, “Right away, grandma”…

And… wait for it… wait for it…

Then I could finally whip out that line I'd been savoring the whole time…

"Write away, Melvin!"

Now of course stuff changed after this, as it's want to do, but this lesson is about first draft.

For now, I'd like YOU to sit down and have a go at YOUR story. It might come out in a single sitting, or a stanza at a time.

The important part is that you keep stepping up to the challenge and making your way through to the end.

As you start writing, I'd like you to remember you can pose any questions you might have in the comments below.

I can't wait to see who and what you discover inside your story today!

Writing Your Story

Welcome back! I hope you've had a chance to get a first draft of your fiction or non-fiction picture book down on paper. If not, then right now I want you to get something to write with and get out a timer. You're gonna set 15 minutes on the clock, and during that time your goal is to keep your pen or pencil moving on the page. No crossing anything out. No erasing. Just keep writing! I want you to get a first draft version of your story down on paper today.

There are only TWO things about writing which are IMPOSSIBLE. The first is to write a PERFECT first draft. It's never going to happen. I need you to release yourself from that worry right now, and let yourself be free to write down whatever comes to mind. And to keep writing!

Since we now know it's impossible to write a PERFECT first draft, and we'll always need to go back and revise our first attempt, I can now share the second impossible thing about writing… you can't revise a blank page.

Remember this course is all about DOING, not just learning random stuff to apply later at that fictitious and ever elusive moment of “Someday when I have time.”

You're taking immediate action today!

So if you found yourself stuck getting started, go grab that paper, something to write with, and an egg timer. You're about to have 15-BREAKTHROUGH minutes! On your mark, get set, GO.

Pause the video and then join me back here with a printed copy of your first draft in hand.

All set?

We talked last time about ways you can work through the telling of your story by over-arching theme, creating an opening line/stanza/paragraph, and then working forward to match word or sentence lengths, find rhyming words that help make your story even more memorable, and also beginning to think about the kinds of images that might crop up in your illustrations.

This time around, I'm going to show you how to make a big leap forward and start to imagine what your finished picture book might look like. More specifically, we're going to work today on locating and refining the spots where the page breaks will happen.

Alright. Time for a first pass through your draft manuscript. Have your story and a pencil in front of you while we work!

What I want you to do is draw a little pencil line between areas where you feel page breaks make sense. Anywhere you feel you've revealed enough of the story to merit moving from a left page to a right, or from a right page over a page turn, or even something that might wind up taking up a double-page spread.

I'll show you an example with the text of “Write Away” we started working with last time.

Again, it's still very much in 1st draft, but we're moving toward a place this lesson where you'll jump to a much clearer and cleaner 2nd draft. Probably something that more closely resembles other people's 3rd, 4th, or even 5th drafts when they're not using a straightforward system like this.

I show these short cuts because I know you're going to love the process of writing EVEN MORE after you've got your first book under your belt. I want you to experience the joy of holding it in your hands and knowing that you finished what you started. And that you can easily do it again. This book is going to be something you're very proud of.

Okay, so here's an example of today's first pass through a manuscript. As we're working on screen, feel free to make similar decisions in your own manuscript. Pause the video if you need to, or work right along at the same time. Whatever feels best. Just draw a little line anywhere in the margin where you feel a page-break or page-turn makes sense.

(1) Melvin dreams of writing about his hunk of cheese,

Its taste, its color, and its smell just bring him to his knees


Okay, seems like a logical spot for a page-turn.


(2) With crayon in hand he writes away

Until he hears his mother say…


I'm going to pop a page-turn in here as well, because I want readers to imagine what Melvin's mom might say BEFORE it's revealed to them.


(3) “Melvin, clean up your room!”

~Right away, Mom.


Another page-turn. I haven't really been thinking about single-page breaks up to this point, but rather those page-turning moments. Know that whatever you grasp on this pass-through is JUST RIGHT for you. We'll refine it in a couple more passes and make deeper decisions each time. Just make notes for now and notice the items that pop out to you.


(4) With fancy pen in hand he writes away

Until he hears his father say…


Okay, now there's an established pattern happening in my story. I will want to stick with that pattern moving forward, and encourage my readers to be able to guess what will happen on the next page before it's revealed.

Have you found any patterns yet in your first few page-breaks? If so, make a note. Let those patterns inform your decisions. Don't over-think it right now!


(5) “Melvin, take out the trash!”

~Right away, Dad.


(6) Notebook in hand, he writes away

Until he hears his coach say…


(7) “Melvin, catch the ball.”

~Right away, Coach.

I'm not 100% sure I like this part of my story. If you've found parts of your first draft that aren't quite working, you should feel free to stop and make some notes in the margin, or cross things out and replace them with new and improved ideas.

Maybe you've even thought of ways to tighten up your phrases and sentences. If so, you should take it a line at a time and make sure each word carries its own weight. I'll have additional ideas for you about saving words in our next video, but if the muse is knocking right now… for heaven's sake ANSWER THE DOOR.

Then come back and finish penciling in page breaks after. Mine's easy… it's all the same pattern set up before.

(8) __________ in hand, he writes away

Until he hears his teacher say…


(9) “Melvin, answer the question!”

~Right away, Teacher.


(10) __________ in hand, he writes away

Until he hears his grandma say…


(11) “Melvin, just sit down… and WRITE!”

~Right away, Grandma.


(12) “Write away, Melvin.”


Okay, got some pencil marks placed between your lines, stanzas or paragraphs yet? If not, go ahead and finish that up now. It's important to take it in easy stages. Don't stress out over making the “perfect” decision. Just go with your gut for now, and we'll figure stuff out deeper in the next video.

Second Draft Time

All set penciling in those page breaks?

Now we're going to make one more pass today and start thinking about the setting and scenery and characters involved in each page we've noted so far.

Remember from earlier when I said the word-count in a children's picture book is usually a surprisingly small number? Well, because you're only using a few hundred words, I want you to make every single one of them chosen with care.

One very common way you can make every one of your words carry even more weight, is to take out all the words you've written as part of the story which could be conveyed through the book's illustrations instead.


Okay, just imagine I had an opening page like this one:

“Sally was a pretty little blonde girl who lived in a gingerbread house in the forest. One day she woke to find a polar bear sitting politely at the foot of her bed.”

What are the elements of this text which could just as easily be shown in an illustration?

How about what Sally looks like? Yep! I can show Sally as a pretty little blonde girl in the illustrations, so I'm going to circle or highlight those words on my page for now and probably leave them out from the finished story.

How about where Sally lives? Yep! I can show a gingerbread house, AND a forest. So I'll circle or highlight those words, too.

How about Sally's strange visitor? Yep! I can also picture the polar bear there in Sally's room. Circled!

So now I can make my opening page's text WAY more interesting, where every word works harder:

“One day Sally woke to find a strange creature sitting politely at the foot of her bed.”

See how that works? Immediately, the child is going to want to look at the illustration to see who or what that strange creature is! Now you've just taken your story from ho-hum to pizzazz in one easy step!

I'd like you to focus on the text from just one of your pages at a time, and circle or highlight all of the words and phrases which could just as easily be shown in the illustration.

Now, I want you to focus just on the words that are leftover, and I want you to reorganize them in a way so the child will be hearing just the parts of the story which can't be told through the pictures. When you master this one skill alone, you will set yourself apart from all other first-time children's book writers, and your story will truly start to shine in just a few quick minutes!

Try it out with one more example here, then I'm going to turn you loose on your own story.

“Sally's hair was sticking out sideways after a long night's sleep. Her bed covers were twisted all around her so she couldn't even move. She looked down at the fluffy white polar bear in panic and screamed, 'What are you doing in my room?'”

First we're going to look for any details which could be shown through the illustrations. First sentence? Sally's hair was sticking out sideways after a long night's sleep. Can we show her blonde hair sticking out like Pippi Longstocking in the illustration? You betcha. Circle or highlight this whole sentence.

Second sentence: Her bed covers were twisted all around her so she couldn't even move. Any illustration possibilities? 100%. Again, circle or highlight this whole sentence.

Third sentence: She looked down at the fluffy white polar bear in panic and screamed, “What are you doing in my bedroom?” Anything we could illustrate?

Sure, we can show Sally looking at the polar bear. We can even show that the bear is fluffy and white, so circle or highlight the first part of the sentence.

That leaves us with: “In panic Sally screamed, 'What are you doing in my bedroom?'”

Now, depending on the way Sally looks in the picture, or the font style and size we use to write the text of her question, we might not even need anything more than the dialogue:

“Wh…wh…what are you doing in my bedroom!?!?”

Do you see how removing all those extra padding words allowed us to drill down to just the information that was most important… and then get super creative about making it even more compelling?

I know you're going to find exactly the same opportunities waiting in your story, so…

Now I want you to go back through your first draft… just one page worth of text at a time… and circle or highlight any words in your story which can be told instead through the illustrations.

Believe me, I know it can be painful to think about losing some of the words you worked really hard on to write in the first draft… but I also know that your story is going to be so much stronger without them. When you make each word on the page carry more weight, both the reader and the child are going to become immersed in your book because they will be interacting with it in a whole new way. They'll be asking questions about what your text says (and doesn't say), and finding the answers in the pictures on each page.

THAT'S THE WAY to build an exciting, page-turning children's picture book!

Okay, it's your time to shine! Grab your manuscripts and a pencil or highlighter.

Touch the text of each page of your book, one page at a time, and then ask yourself how to use the leftover words even more creatively to engage your readers with the words and images on the page.

There's just one more video in this section to help you finish up your stunning second draft, so for now I'm looking forward to reading your comments and answering your questions in the section below!

Second Draft - Part 2

I know you had an awesome time in that last lesson… finding ways you could INSTANTLY tighten and improve the text of your children's picture book story!

Right now I want you to go back through your second draft and count out how many different page breaks (actually spots where you'll have a new illustration to go with the text). For now it doesn't matter whether that's one illustration spread out over two pages, or one illustration per page. Just count the number of different spots you think you'll want to introduce a new image to go with the text of your story.

Okay… feel free to pause the video while you count!

Got a number? Great. Now I want you to scroll down on the right to the Downloads section of this lesson, and print out several copies of the 1-page handout called “Who-Where-What.” One sheet for each of the parts of your story where you'll introduce a new picture to go with your text.

Now, we're going to go back one more time through our drafts and really make them sparkle. What you'll wind up with at the end of this lesson is something you're going to be ready to show off and share with friends and family immediately!

Okay, grab one of your printouts and something to write with. Down the left-hand side I want you to copy in the revised second draft text of your first page. Remember, we're not keeping any parts of the text which can be shown through the illustrations! What I want you to write in this part of the page is just the sparkly polished and tight prose which will cause your readers to get immersed in your story, interacting with your text and the images, and cause them to want to uncontrollably keep turning pages all the way to the end!

For our on-screen example, I'm going to go back to the text of one of my first children's books, Write Away! that we worked with in an earlier video.

On the first handout, I'm going to write the first page worth of text which will ultimately go with my book's first illustration.

(1) Melvin dreams of writing about his hunk of cheese,

Its taste, its color, and its smell just bring him to his knees

Now, I want you to think about the picture you want to see on the page of your book to go with this text.

For me, as I think about the illustrations for this page, I realize I actually want to have one page with Melvin pictured in bed, dreaming… and a second illustration with the little mouse bowing down to that big hunk of Swiss.

If something like this happens to you too, DON'T WORRY! It's natural. We'll just print out one more extra worksheet at the end. No worries!

Revise what you have in the left-hand side, and move forward.

In the notes section on the right-hand side, I want you to answer a few quick questions.

First: Who will be pictured?

For me that's Melvin – my mouse protagonist. The hero of my story.

If you have one or more characters being introduced on this page, be sure and write out a description of each one with as much detail as you can. If you need more space, you can add additional detail on the back of the page.

Your illustrator will be best served to know AS MUCH AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE about the way each character should look… right from the start of the project.

When we're building books for ease and efficiency of creation, we certainly don't want to waste time drawing characters multiple times to decide what color hair they should have.

Or if you know that later in the story someone's going to take off their glasses, you need to be sure and note here at the beginning that the character is wearing glasses!

Okay, second question: Where is the action taking place?

For me, that's Melvin's bedroom. It's inside a mouse house, somewhere in the bowels of a people-home… and the furnishings of Melvin's bedroom are going to be “found” items the mice have “liberated” from other places (like the trash can, or the pantry, or the kids' rooms).

Finally, third question: What is happening in the illustration on this page?

For me, Melvin's in bed, dreaming about cheese

Now, it's time to tackle YOUR first page. Write the sparkling revised text on the left-hand side, and answer those three quick questions on the right in as much detail as you can for now.

Once you've put down those Who, Where, and What answers, move on to your next page's worth of text and a fresh handout sheet!

One thing that could happen as you're working through the story, is that you might determine you need an extra page or extra illustration in there somewhere.

For me, this happened with my fifth set of double-page spreads:

(5) “Melvin, take out the trash!”

~Right away, Dad.

When I filled in the left-hand side and started working on the right, I realized I was going to need ONE ADDITIONAL illustration before moving on to the next lines of text.

My who: was Dad and Melvin.

My where: was the Kitchen.

My what: was Dad handing Melvin a full trash bag.

What I figured out was that I needed another illustration, maybe a page without words where I could show Melvin headed to the dumpster but getting distracted by something he could use in his writing process. Maybe some berries to squeeze for ink for his new quill pen?

If something like this happens to you, just grab a fresh handout sheet. Leave the left-hand side blank, and answer the three quick questions on the right for the new additional illustration. Make sense?

Or maybe you have the opposite concern – too many words without enough changes of scenery.

In that case, consider whether you could zoom in or pan out on a scene to give your reader greater detail and insight into the setting or mood.

Maybe one of your illustrations shows the entire outside of a house. Even if the setting doesn't change for your next illustration, you might consider having the next image be zoomed in to just the character standing in front of the door or window. This will allow the reader to feel even more up-close and connected to the action on the page!

Or maybe (like me), you'll find other plot issues inside the text of your story at this point.

When I get to the next page:

(6) Notebook in hand, he writes away

Until he hears his coach say…

I realize now that Melvin's no longer finding a notebook in the trash. He's finding berries next to the dumpster… from which he's going to go back and make ink he'll use with his fancy pen to write his book about cheese.

At this point, I'm now thinking I don't even need this scene with the coach. Part of my earlier problem with this sequence was that it started to feel repetitive, and I couldn't figure out what sort of thing he was going to have “IN HAND” after Melvin plays four-square in gym class.

That will allow me to trim out – ELIMINATE – both (6) and (7).

(6) Notebook in hand, he writes away

Until he hears his coach say…

(7) “Melvin, catch the ball.”

~Right away, Coach.

And just like I taught you in the last lesson, trimming your children's picture book text to just the barest of essentials is almost always a good idea in this format!

What I found after trimming out those two unnecessary pages was that Melvin's got a quill and some ink!

(8) Quill in hand, he writes away

Until he hears his teacher say…

So I fill out my next worksheet like this:

Who? Melvin

Where? At his classroom desk

What? Starting to write with quill and ink jar – this will be zoomed in on just Melvin's desk, but part of the larger classroom in the next picture

And move on…

(9) “Melvin, answer the question!”

~Right away, Teacher.

Who? Teacher, other students, and Melvin

Where? Melvin's classroom

What? Teacher at blackboard, other students at desks – a zoomed-out version of #8

At this point in the story, I still wasn't sure how to start the next sequence. But now as I look back at my trimmed up sparkly second draft version, I realize I've let Melvin be interrupted THREE times. Mom, Dad, Teacher.

Three is a magic number in writing.

At any rate, I've got to imagine that if I was in Melvin's paws, I'd be getting pretty frustrated at this point. {Do mice have paws? Well, I don't actually care. I gave up perfectionism for Lent, and I'm not picking it back up!}

So I figure what if I actually let poor Melvin's frustration show? He's been really clever and resourceful up to this point, but even the best of us get down some days. Why not bring out this very human, very fragile element in my story's hero as well?

So instead of having a writing utensil “IN HAND” like the other in-between scene passages, I'm going to replace it with a little crisis moment for him…

(10) Cheese in hand

And to ramp up the frustration, without letting it appear like anger, I'm thinking to follow it up with “Tears in his eyes.”

Then it needs to end with the predictable:

Until he hears his grandma say…

Except that now whatever grandma does needs to rhyme with “eyes.” – Or possibly I could find a different way to show Melvin's tears that ends with a rhyming word for “say” or “call” or “yell” or “shout”.

My instinct is always for the easiest way [ok, if you've known me for a really long time I hear you coughing “B.S.”, but just bear in mind this is YOUR writing lesson and not MY therapy session], so as I was saying, I always opt for the easy road. Whatever works first, that is.

“Tears in his eyes, Until he hears his grandma…. Cry!”

Since “cry” can be another word for “yell,” I think it works.

Except that now I'm rhyming “eyes” with “cry.” Not exactly right. I suppose I could make it “Cheese in hand, tears in his eyes, until he hears his grandma's cries…” but it feels a little funny to add the possessive apostrophe-s.

What if we change Melvin's tears to just one eye.

Cheese in hand, tears in his eye,

Until he hears his grandma cry…


Um, no. Melvin's Grandma does not cry “Bingo.” But you get the point.

So the text I'll write on the left is:

Chees in hand, tears in his eye,

Until he hears his grandma cry…

And the answers to the three quick questions on the right are:

Who? Melvin

Where? Anywhere

And what? Holding his beloved swiss and crying

These are some of the likely situations you might encounter as you go through this step with your manuscript:

  • You'll find even more ways to tighten up your first draft text by condensing phrases and sentences to make each word carry even more weight
  • You'll find you need an extra text-free page in your book to add an extra illustration that shows action happening between scenes
  • You'll find you need one (or more) less pages of text or illustrations, and your story will actually be better told by leaving out those scenes
  • You'll solve whatever plot-problems were still left dangling when you finished the previous step.

Now I want you to sit down with each page worth of text and illustration ideas. Fill out one worksheet for each combo of text and image. Do this one at a time! And start from the beginning.

If you get hung up anywhere along the way, go ahead to the next one. You can come back later to the problem-child, and you'll likely have all new revelations to answer or fill in the details of whatever was holding you up before… just like I did with Melvin's coach, and with what Melvin was going to say during his crisis meltdown.

Just trust in the process, and trust in yourself!

Don't feel that it has to be perfect the first time out. As soon as you take that pressure off yourself, you'll be amazed how many more creative ideas come flooding in!

I'd love to hear about the discoveries you make – like mine with eliminating the gym coach pages, or Melvin's teary-eyed breakdown – so leave me a comment below and let me know how it went!

And as always, if you have any questions, just post 'em below! It's always easier to get things sorted through toward the beginning of the process rather than later when it gets time to review your final proof.

Second Draft - Part 3
Building a Mock Book
4 Lectures 39:46

Welcome back! Last module we went through a series of steps that helped you revise your first draft into something AMAZING that looks closer to the fifth or even sixth drafts of other writers who haven't developed such an efficient system.

And in some cases, their writing NEVER evolves beyond that first draft. And that's a shame, because those stories are all worth telling in the best way possible.

So I want you to give yourself a BIG pat on the back right now!!! Or a pat on the head… or a pat on the knee… you know… whatever body part's left hanging out there you can still reach with ease J

Because you have already taken steps to not just FINISH the book of your dreams, but to actually make it a more compelling and INCREDIBLE story!

I am thrilled and HONORED to be part of your journey.

Today, we're about to take a step which will really bring your book to life… and give you just the tools you need to be ready to approach someone to illustrate your book… or maybe even pick up some art supplies and start creating pictures yourself!

So grab your worksheets with the text and who/where/what from last time… and something to write with.

Ready? Here we go!

This time through the story, I want you to consider whether each of your scenes is going to be shown on a single-page or a double-page spread.

If that sounds like Greek to you right now, let me walk you through my book with Melvin and then you can go back to your manuscript with a couple of insights.

  • Because I determined I need two different pictures of Melvin (one in bed dreaming, and another kneeling down to the cheese), those definitely need to be on separate pages.

A) Melvin dreams of writing about his hunk of cheese,

B) Its taste, its color, and its smell just bring him to his knees.

Your next decision needs to be about how the book starts.

When we physically open a book, there's usually a title page on the right and a copyright page on the back of that title page.

Your first decision is going to be whether to start your story on that very next blank right page, or to flip over and start your story on the first double-page spread.

With my story, it could go either way. I could start out with Melvin in bed on the right (with the words at the bottom), then flip over to Melvin with the cheese-knees.

Or I could open on a double-page spread with Melvin in his bedroom on the left-hand page, and his cheesy goodness on the right.

If your decision is ambiguous like mine, you can follow up with two more questions to help you decide.

  • First, imagine how much room – physically – on the page will be taken up by your text. You'll want to use a pretty large font to match reader expectations for this genre. Probably something at least 24-pt font or larger. Will all your text fit on a single page with room for the illustration? Or will you need to split up the scene with text on one side of a double-page spread and the illustration on the other?
  • If that still doesn't give you a clear answer, then consider the scene which will immediately follow the one you're working on now. Will that one be better suited to a single-page or double-page spread? Are there any rhetorical questions, leading comments, or obvious page-turning moments?

In mine, it's “Until he hears his mother say…”

I want the reader to start forming an idea about what Melvin's mom will say and do… before the page is turned.

I want to generate a question in the reader's mind that can only be answered when they reach out and make that page turn.

It's an element of micro-suspense, and it encourages discussion between the caregiver and child about what might be coming up.

So… working backward… I know that my text for section (2) needs to start on its own double-page spread, AND I know it needs to lead immediately to a page-turn.

When I back up with that knowledge, I realize I still have the same choice of whether to use single pages or double-pages for (1) and (1.5).

If your answer is just as elusive as mine, I'm gonna go crazy here and suggest it's a decision you don't need to make yet.

Let's wait and see how many pages your book ultimately takes up, and then we can make a choice that best helps the book reach an optimum page-count later on.

Remember how I said we don't need to flip out about anything we don't have answers for just yet? Remember how I said everything doesn't have to be perfect the first time?

That's all still true!

So don't freak out. Just look ahead, and come back to it later. Trust me, it will all make sense at the point it's meant to. Most likely you just need to answer a question on some next part of the story which will give you an answer for this one later.

So for now, we'll continue forward through my story and yours, making notes about “single” or “double” in the margin.

(3) “Melvin, clean up your room!”

~Right away, Mom.

This is definitely a “double.” Melvin's room needs to be a horrible mess!

(4) With quill in hand he writes away

Until he hears his father say…

Because I want to establish a pattern with the “Until he hears his parents say…” this also needs to be a “double” with a page-turn to find out the answer.

(5) “Melvin, take out the trash!”

~Right away, Dad.

This needs to be a “double” because I've now set up a pattern, and the reader will expect it. But since there are two parts to the action, I imagine putting Melvin and his dad and the text all on the left… and then zooming in on Melvin on the right as he discovers the berry bush while taking out the trash.

(6) and (7) we took out in Module 4 about the gym coach.

(8) Quill in hand, he writes away

Until he hears his teacher say…

This needs to be a “double” because of the established pattern.

(9) “Melvin, answer the question!”

~Right away, Teacher.

This needs to be a “double” because of the pattern.

(10) Cheese in hand, tears in his eye

Until he hears his grandma cry…

Again, a double for the same reason. The pattern.

(11) “Melvin, just sit down… and WRITE!”

~Right away, Grandma.

And again, don't overthink this here. If you've got a great pattern and it works… don't try to make things complicated on purpose. That won't help ANYBODY. Especially YOU.

(12) “Write away, Melvin.”

Now this one could be a double or a single… If you can imagine the ending of a book right now – a physical book – remember that there's always going to be one last single page on the left. So if you want your story to end with a double-page spread, then you'll also have to add a single blank page at the very end to balance out the book. That's completely okay! It's just that you need to be aware.

So, now I want YOU to go through your manuscript making notes for “single” or “double” if you haven't already, and then make sure those decisions actually go together in a way that's physically POSSIBLE.

For example, you can't have a double-page spread followed by one single and another double. Books just aren't built that way!!! (well, not unless you pay and print a very unique and excruciatingly expensive book)

Finish up this third pass, and then join me in the next video for one last step this module which will truly start to bring your book to life!

Building a Mock Book

Welcome back! Have you gone through your worksheets and labeled each one with “single-page” or “double-page spread”?

Then have you verified that they can actually physically go together in a book that way? Because remember… you can have a single followed by a double at the very beginning, but you can't have that in the middle of your book! Unless you want to pay a specialized printer to create a very unique folding book!!

Now, I want you to go back through your notes you added in the margins from the previous video and add up the total number of pages needed to tell your whole story from beginning to end.

If you have questions about some of your pages, whether they're single or double, then you may need to do the math a couple times to arrive at your final decision. No worries! This is not going to be intense math… and it's definitely not going to be NEW math. We're only headed to a number that's bound to be less than 50.

For mine it's 1 + 2 (or 2 + 2, because it's still ambiguous), and then a series of double-page spreads up until the end.

All together it needs 16 pages worth of double spreads, plus either 3 or 4 pages at the beginning, plus either 1 or 3 at the end depending on what I do with the “Write Away” grandma conclusion.

If I go with 1 + 2 at the beginning and end, I wind up with 22 total pages.

Don't bother pausing the video just yet to figure out YOUR page-count. There are still a few more things to take into consideration, and it won't take more than a few minutes to add that knowledge to what you already know.

Most books in the children's picture book genre have either 28, 32, 36, 40, 44, or 48 pages. That's because of how printed books are constructed. A single sheet of paper becomes FOUR pages in the finished and assembled book. Among those page-counts I just noted, the more standard ones are divisible not only by the number 4, but also by the number 8…. So 32 pages, 40 pages, 48 pages.

I'm a long way off from 32 with my current 22-page count, so I'm only going to concern myself with getting to my book's FINAL count up to 28 pages. And NO! I'm not talking about artificially lengthening the story. That is NEVER a smart idea. I'm talking about manipulating the front and back matter of the book to help reach an appropriate number for your finished book.

What I want you to consider in this video, are those EXTRA pages in the book… things like Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication Page, About the Author/Illustrator Pages, or even the possibility of using intentional blank pages.

Ultimately you're aiming for a number between 28 and 48 that's divisible by 4. Remember each sheet of paper bound into your book becomes the actual equivalent of four finished book pages.

Don't stress over the details now. Just give it a go and be OKAY with however it turns out.

PROMISE ME you're not going to stress out about this!

Okay, remember this is a work in progress. It's not the inaugural address. You can make changes at any point right up until press time.

So… right now, I want you to pause the video and add up the total number of pages needed just to tell your story. I'll tell you what you're adding, and then you can pause and count stuff up and then come back, okay?

You're adding the number 1 for any single-page scenes, and 2 for any double-page scenes. Then I want you to add 2 for the title and copyright pages. If your total number is still less than 28, I want you to strongly consider an About the Author Page, as well as a dedication page. You could also include 2 completely blank pages before the Title Page – this is commonly done… check out some of the books on the library of bookstore shelf. Rather than open immediately to the title page, it opens to a blank (which is frequently used by authors to AUTOGRAPH copies when they're selling them at book signings), and then it turns over to the real Title Page on the next right-hand side.

If your number JUST FOR THE STORY is already above 44, then I want you to stick with just the Title/Copyright Page, and maybe a Dedication or About the Author page. But your goal should be to keep it to a TOTAL count of exactly 48.

If your number is anywhere in between those two extremes, then you have some wiggle room and you can decide which elements are most important to you.

The options again are:

2 blank pages at the beginning – just to give it a polished professional feel

Title Page on the right

Copyright Page on the immediate back of the Title Page

Dedication Page, often immediately follows the Copyright Page on the left-hand side

About the Author Page, usually follows the last page of the story, either on the right, or on the very last left-page of the book.

You could also add one or two final blank pages at the very end to make it all work out so your total number is divisible by 4.

Ok, pause the video now, and take a first crack at adding up YOUR book's total page count. Then come back.

All right, welcome back. Did you get your preliminary page count?

No worries if you don't have it all figured out just yet. It's a work in progress, and you promised me you weren't going to freak out.

So for now, I want you to take that total number you wound up with and divide it by 4. If your number isn't exactly divisible by 4, don't worry. Just round up.

Here's an example. If your book right now is 25 pages, and you divide 25 by 4, you get 6 plus 1. Round up to 7. Okay?

If you've got 35 pages now, and you divide by 4, you get 8 plus 3. Round up to 9.

Got it?

Whatever your rounded-up answer is right now… I want you to take that many blank sheets of paper out and fold them in half like this:

My finished number was 28, and 28 divided by 4 is 7… so I'm folding 7 pieces of paper in half.

You can use notebook paper, or printer paper, or even tiny notepad paper. Size doesn't matter right now.

All you need room for is a little hand-written number or one or two words on each page of the booklet.

Start with #1 on the outside front, and continue on with 2, 3, 4, etc until you get to the very last flap on the back.

Now we're going to make a final pass through your who/what/where sheets and pencil in some page numbers onto your document.

If you'd like to have those two completely blank pages at the beginning for a polished and professional start, then you'll be leaving pages 1 and 2 blank. That would make page 3 your Title Page. Write “Title Page” on that flap of your booklet. Flip over and write “Copyright” on page 4.

Or if you don't want those front two pages blank, then write “Title Page” on page 1, and “Copyright” on page 2.

Make sense?

I want you to move forward through your little booklet and write in any dedication page or intentionally blank page between the Copyright and beginning of your story.

Then on your who/where/what worksheets, I want you to put in the page #'s from your booklet where it makes the most sense to hold the text and illustrations of your story.

Then finally for this module's assignment, I want you to hold your micro-booklet in hand and turn its physical pages while you read your story OUT LOUD from your who/where/what worksheets.


Okay, it starts with a title page, then a copyright and dedication page combined, then the first page of the book:

Melvin dreams of writing about his hunk of cheese.

Its taste, its color, and its smell just bring him to his knees.

With crayon in hand he writes away, until he hears his mother say…

“Melvin, clean up your room!” ~Right away, mom.

Then there's a page here where Melvin finds a bird feather in the mess of his room and decides he could use it to become a writing quill.

With quill in hand he writes away, until he hears his father say…

“Melvin, take out the trash.” ~Right away, dad.

Then there's another page in here where Melvin's carrying out the bag of trash and finds a berry bush.

With ink in hand he writes away, until he hears his teacher say…

“Melvin, answer the question.” ~Right away, teacher.

Cheese in hand, tears in his eye, until he hears his grandma cry…

“Melvin, just sit down and WRITE!” ~Right away, grandma!

“Write away, Melvin.”

And then a final page illustration with Melvin holding his finished book with its title on the front.

Then an About the Author/About the Illustrator page, and a final blank page on the back of that.

Got it?

Take notes of any revelations you might have while you're reading out loud. Did something strike you as odd? Was it harder to say that phrase than you thought it might be? Did any page-turns just plain feel wrong?

Now in the comments section below our video here, leave me a note and let me know what you've discovered!

Building a Mock Book - Part 2

Today we're going to start building your picture book as a digital file. This will be extremely helpful as you (or your future illustrator) start thinking about the size and shape of the images that will go with your story.

The first decision you will have to make is about the actual finished dimensions of your printed book. This is called the “trim size” – because your book is printed (multiple pages per sheet) and then trimmed to its final dimensions.

There are three most common trim sizes I can recommend – an 8.5” square book, an 8”x10” portrait shaped book, and an 8.5”x11” portrait shaped, letter-size book. These three sizes are also going to be your most economical choices when it comes time to order printed copies.

During your field trip to the library or bookstore, you may have found some books you love that are oriented in the landscape direction. These are LOVELY… however, they will cost you twice as much to print, and you will unfortunately have to work with a specialized print shop or professional publisher to move the work to completion… and you will have to order (and pay for) a large quantity to be printed at one time… say at least 100 copies.

For now, I'm going to recommend you proceed with a square or portrait-shaped book so you will be able to save your hard-earned dollars and put them to better use elsewhere.

This trim process – where they print the books with multiple pages per sheet and then cut and fold as a second step – is also how printers are able to get color to extend all the way out to the edge of the book's pages. When print of any type – including color – extends to the edge of the page, this is called “bleed.” The color essentially bleeds off the edge of the page.

When a book DOES NOT have bleed, the images and text must stop a full quarter-inch before the outside margin. That means there would be white space around the outside edges of every page.

So, your second decision is going to be whether or not your picture book will have bleed.

In my experience, the vast majority of picture books DO bleed. Those which don't, tend to have lengthy text on one side, and then a full-page image on the other. I've also found this happens more frequently in non-fiction picture books than fiction.

But the choice is up to you.

In our next video, I'm going to give you a template for your chosen trim-size and bleed, and show you how to input your book's text in the most efficient way.

Creating Your Book's Digital File

In this video, I'm going to show you how to start building your book in a digital file you will eventually need when you're ready to publish. Going through this part now will also help you know how to answer questions you or your book's future illustrator will have about size and shape of the images needed.

In the Downloads section of this lesson, scroll down on the right and select a template based on Trim Size and Bleed. Remember the trim-size is the finished outside dimensions of your picture book, and bleed is whether or not color and print extend to the edge of the page.

You will also have a choice of software programs you might use. I prefer working with my students using MS Publisher because it's less rocket-science than Adobe Illustrator – and allows you to lay out your book in double-page spreads. This can be super helpful when you have illustrations that are going to spread across two pages, because you can see the two pages side by side on your screen and get a really good idea of how the finished product will look.

On its own, it retails for about $100, or you might find your school system or local library offers it on their public computer lab machines for free when used in-house.

But I also realize not everyone has access to MS Publisher, so I've included templates using MS Powerpoint and Keynote for the Mac. Both of these programs have free versions available to you – Powerpoint is at and Keynote is in the Apple cloud at You'll simply need to create an account with a login and password, which is also free.

For those of you with Adobe Illustrator – the neuro-surgeon of all software design programs – I'm going to take a not-so-big leap here and say you don't need my help to create a new file and add a colored shape and a text box. Most likely you've already got graphic design training which will enable you to layout a seriously kick-butt book! All you need to remember is to set your page dimensions to your finished trim size – and if your book has bleed, then you need to add an eighth-inch to every outside edge… so an 8.5” square book would be set up with 1/8” bleed area plus 8.5” main area plus another 1/8” bleed area… or finished dimensions of 8.75” x 8.75”.

For everyone else, I invite you to follow along with me in the studio, for a quick demonstration of adding text to your digital book file.

Okay, here we are in MS Publisher. (Remember you can use the free software like Powerpoint or Keynote, and the steps are basically the same.)

On the first page of your template, all I want you to do for now is click in the box that says “TITLE,” delete the letters that are there, and then type YOUR TITLE. When you're done, click anywhere outside the edge of the screen, and the box around your type will disappear.

Now click in the box where the author and illustrator names go, and replace that text as well with YOUR NAME.

One word of caution: Most self-published authors have this idea that it needs to say “BY” before their name. This is not true. It is more common in children's picture books than any other genre, but as a general publishing practice it's just not done.

If you're doing your own illustrations, the two wording choices I'd suggest are: “Written and Illustrated by YOUR NAME” or “Text and Illustrations by YOUR NAME”.

Otherwise, I'd like you to stick with: “YOUR NAME” followed by “Illustrated by ILLUSTRATOR'S NAME”.


Let's head to the next page. Here in Publisher you'll click on the page in the left-hand navigation window. Notice how it shows a two-page spread… just like your finished book when it's open. This is super helpful if you're confused about whether a certain part of your text is eventually going to be on a right-hand or left-hand page. If you're ever working in Publisher and you're only seeing one page at a time (other than the first or last page), you can swap to this view on the View menu by choosing “Two-Page Spread.”

Okay, this first left-hand page is typically used for Copyright information, so I've filled in the basics already. Just substitute YOUR NAME in the area here of the topic line, as well as the calendar year in which your book gets released.

It is not necessary for you to formally file for copyright in order to use this symbol and wording in your book, but if you'd like the additional legal protection of your work, US Citizens can find info at, or you can find your country's copyright website through an internet search of “Copyright” plus your country's name.

Another item your copyright page needs to include is the book's ISBN. This is a 13-digit numeric code assigned to your specific book, and is different for each format you might release your book in… so a softcover version will have a different ISBN than an eBook or audio book.

For now, I want you to leave this blank. When we get ready to upload your book, you'll be able to get a free ISBN, or have the option of purchasing one and naming your own publisher's imprint.

Okay, here on page 3 – the first possible page of the regular book, you could either use this space for a Dedication or Acknowledgements page (if you want the text of your book to start on a double-page spread), or you could go ahead and start your book's first page of text.

So click in the box, replace the type with YOUR text, and then click away in the margin.

If you already have your text typed up in a separate file, you can copy and paste it one section at a time by highlighting a specific passage and copying using Ctrl-C or Command-C, then coming to the file's text box here and pasting with Ctrl-V or Command-V.

Remember to SAVE YOUR FILE periodically throughout your work session. I recommend you create a folder just for this book project, and perhaps even use the SAVE AS feature to add a Draft # or Date to the file name on subsequent work sessions… so no matter what happens to your work-in-progress, you'll have a back-up available which won't require you to go all the way back to step one and start completely over.

Now, I want you to continue this process for as many pages of your book as you have Who/Where/What worksheets. You can add extra pages to your digital file by right-clicking on the thumbnail and choosing Insert Duplicate Page. [This works the same in Powerpoint as it does in Publisher. You're just adding one page at a time instead of two.]

If you need to change the size and shape, or position of your Text Box, you can do so by moving your mouse over the box to where you see the shape as a four-headed arrow, and then click and drag to re-position… or by clicking one of the outside or center handles and dragging to shrink or enlarge the box.

To change the characteristics of the text within the Text Box, first highlight the text inside by clicking and dragging, and then use the selections on your toolbar to change the font, the font size, the bold, italics, underline, or color of your text.

In general, I recommend you use an easy to read font, in at least 24-point type. Remember, for children's picture books, the work will usually be read by a caregiver who's holding the child in their lap. Big print helps us all to be able to read from a distance!

In general, if you're copying and pasting text from a separate file, it's most efficient to change all the text there to the size and style you want – BEFORE – you copy and paste it and have to make updates on 24-48 separate pages and text boxes.

You can use Ctrl-A or Command-A to Select All text, then use the toolbar to select the font, size, and qualities you want to assign all the book's text.

Back in the digital book file, you can also change the color or texture or gradient of the background… but it's probably not worth your time to change this on every page right now… since the colors and medium of your illustrations ought to affect the final decision on background.

And I'm all about doing things in the most efficient way possible! Get yourself to the FINISH LINE rather than sitting around playing endlessly with font and color choices!

Okay… it's time for YOU to start work on your book's digital file. Grab a template, open it open and start adding your text TODAY!

I'll be back in the next video to show you a project-in-progress and talk you through the kinds of details your book's illustrator will want to know before getting started, and outline the top ways that authors find illustrators for their books (if they're not doing it themselves).

As always, I'd love to hear your comments and questions in the section below. Let me know how it's going, and what you discover!

Creating Your Book's Digital File - Part 2
Illustrating Your Book
5 Lectures 44:16

Welcome back! I know you're super psyched after adding your book's text into the digital book template… because now you can SEE it all coming together. Also, if your computer is connected to a printer, you can print out that finished file and get an even better sense of what it's going to eventually look like. This is one of my FAVORITE steps of the process, because it inspires me to KEEP GOING!

Now, in this session I want to talk to you about how to find an illustrator for your work.

I think right now you've gotten pretty firm on the trim size and layout of your book's text and how you want the page-turns to play out, AND you've got a mock-up of the digital file which can allow you to even print out your work in progress and have something physical and tangible to share with your illustrator so you're both on the same page about how big the images should be and which direction the characters should be facing and how much text is competing for space, and how the color does or does not need to bleed off the edge of the page.

So now it's time to either start making your own illustrations (if you have some art skill and a little bit of courage), or to find someone else to illustrate your book for you.

The best all-time tried-and-true method for finding an illustrator – especially if you need to stay on the cheap – is to start talking about the book you're writing. The people in your life are all inter-connected with artists and illustrators who are just waiting for an opportunity like illustrating your book. It's simply a matter of finding and connecting with them, and then having a discussion to encourage them to step up to the job.

Here's what I want you to do: I want you to mention it at the dinner table, I want you to talk about it at work, I want you to talk about it on the phone to your family members and friends, or on Skype or Facetime. TELL PEOPLE about what you're building, and see what they have to say. Just drop the hint “…And I'm about ready to look for an illustrator” … and then let the conversation pause… because that's where the magic begins.

So many folks in my live classes come back and say, “Oh! I found my illustrator last night! I had no idea my brother-in-law was an artist!” Or “My child, my son is a perfect fit. He's a graphic designer.” You never know where these conversations are going to lead.

So first and foremost, I want you to TALK ABOUT YOUR BOOK! Ask people if they know anyone they might be able to recommend. Be on the lookout also for your relatives… do your parents draw? Do your brothers and sisters draw? How about your children? Or… your grandchildren?

In many cases, the authors I work with are actually creating books for their own children, or in their grandchild's honor… and sometimes the perfect illustrators for those titles are the grandkids themselves!

Alright, you might also consider talking with your friends. “I'm looking for an illustrator. Do you know anybody who's an artist, or who draws?” Tell them a little about what your book's about, and then wait for that magic to happen.

If this doesn't work for you, the next person you want to consider is an art instructor in your town or county. In many cases, if the art instructor themselves isn't interested in the gig, they can often recommend one or more of their students for the project that would be an ideal fit to keep everything on a nice, reasonable budget.

You can look to senior centers as well, because they frequently have art classes with instructors and students ready to take on something like this, and with the time and energy and CREATIVE DRIVE to move it forward quickly.

Or weekend art schools. Maybe your town has an arts council which sponsors public or private art classes in drawing.

If you're interested instead to put some money into get really high-quality illustrations for your book, you may be prefer to look up a professional illustrator. There are several websites and internet searches which can help, but your first stop could be the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. You can find them at – where many professional illustrators have galleries of their work available. You can see images from their prior work, compare art styles and mediums, or even search for an illustrator by drawing topic or region of the world where they live. This is a great place to start as you're looking for someone who's style is a great fit for the kinds of illustrations you want to include in YOUR book.

You might also include an internet search for other professional illustrators. One of the authors in my area recently worked with Blueberry Illustrations, which is out of Asia, and had a good experience for around $60-70 per illustration. Or many other folks these days are having great experiences with outsourcing illustrations affordably through a service called Fiverr. If you haven't heard of Fiverr yet, go and check it out at (there's two r's in it). There are people around the world who post jobs they are willing to do for EXTREMELY REASONABLE prices! …Professional artists who are able to provide services to you at ridiculously economical rates.

Now, I'm not saying for one moment that you can't also get professional quality work from the local artists and art students you meet in the other methods I outlined above, because I've seen lots of books come together with INCREDIBLE results this way. But I want to present the gamut of choices available to you.

Most importantly, I want to tell you if you have any inkling that YOU might like to illustrate your own work… that you have some art skills waiting to leap out onto the printed page… then I think you should DO IT. You have absolutely nothing to lose by giving it a try. I'm going to encourage you to take that leap and sketch out some concepts for your book's main character, or a prominent setting. And if you're concerned, you can even email me a picture of your sketch and I'd be happy to write back with a recommendation or two for how you can take even an elementary or primitive design and turn it into something useable for your book.

I've seen several artists use even construction paper illustrations to create the interior of their book. A beautiful and colorful way to bring those characters to life!

BE FEARLESS. At this point you can take the project in so many different directions… who's to say one of them couldn't be an artistic direction of your own?

I encourage to drop a comment in the box below. Let me know how your search for an illustrator is going, and what you find when you begin TALKING ABOUT YOUR BOOK with friends, family, and colleagues. I can't wait to hear how the process all comes together. Talking with others is the single biggest most effective tool you can use to keep this book project moving forward as you figure out the next step.

Finding an Illustrator

In this video, I want to talk a little further with you about ways you or your kids and grandkids might illustrate your book in EASY ways even the most Crayola-challenged can appreciate!

I myself am a stick-figure aficionado… here I show off my first attempt at drawing a CAT. Wow. Stunning, right?

But look what happens when I go on the internet and find a picture of a cat I like and print it out… then I trace it onto construction paper and cut it out, give it eyes and a nose and a mouth, maybe some exotic whiskers, and a little bit of detail.

Now I'm no longer infringing copyright. This mouse isn't the same as the one I found and fell in love with. In fact other than the shape it doesn't look like the original at all, because it's a different style, a different medium, and is going to be on a different background than the one in the original artwork or photograph.

Then I lay it on top of a different colored piece of construction paper. I can do the same with other elements of my scenery – a flip flop, a night stand, a candle-stick – and suddenly the story comes to life. MY STORY comes to life!

I glue the layers together, then scan them (which I'll cover in more detail next video), and save the file on my computer.

In my book's digital file, I add that picture, size it just right, place my page's text in large fun print at the bottom and VOILA! Now I've got something truly cool, created in just a few minute's time with a bare minimum of research or stress, or panicking in an art supply store over what kind of tools to buy.

If you need to keep your children's picture book illustrations inside a tight budget, I want to encourage you to pull out some paper, a box of crayons, watercolors, or colored pencils… or maybe even a pack of construction paper and some scissors.

You might just find that you can be your OWN PERFECT illustrator if you open yourself up to the possibilities and allow yourself to be just FEARLESS enough to try!

Be Your Own Best Illustrator

When you have a physical image – a drawing, a painting, a sketch, a coloring page, a photograph, or even an item that's a series of layers glued together – and you want to turn it into a digital image file you can add to your book for future publishing, you can use a desktop scanner to quickly create files you can use.

I'm demonstrating here with an inexpensive desktop scanner that came for free when I purchased a printer for the home office. You can find similar ones for $50-100 dollars online, or you can ask about scanning service (and sometimes even self-service) at your local copy shop.

For several of the videos that follow in this series… where I'm demonstrating something onscreen and asking you to do it on yours… you may find it helpful to view the class video on your mobile device – a cell phone or tablet – while you're actually working on the computer. That way you can pause the video while you look for the tool buttons, and then unpause when you're ready to move to the next step.

Open up the scanner and place your document face down on the glass. You may notice some arrows one corner of the scan bed – this shows you which corner is “UP” (top left) when your file is created. But if you screw this up, don't worry! We can always rotate the digital image later inside your book file so that it's facing the proper direction.

Make sure the image is level on the screen, though. Depending on the software you're working with, it can add complication if you have to work with pictures that are scanned crooked.

Now, you may have a variety of buttons on your scanner… I'm going to recommend you don't push any of them!

If you're comfortable with using your scanner's proprietary software, just ignore me for a second while I talk to everyone else.

If you've been nothing but frustrated with the proprietary software that came with your scanner, and you're ready to kick something, I want you instead to go your computer's start bar and search for your built-in Scanning software. In the search bar you can type “Scan” – or on the new operating system it's located in the accessories area down here under S for “Scan”.

Make sure your scanner is plugged in – usually a USB cable. If it has a separate power cable, make sure that's also plugged in and turned on.

Now open up that scanning program on your computer. If it immediately gives you options for black-and-white or grayscale versus color, you'll want to choose COLOR.

Alternatively, your program may first ask you to select the scanner on the side here, then to tell it what kind of file you want to create from your scanned image. I'd like you to choose either a JPG or PNG file.

If your object is rectangular or square and doesn't contain a lot of detail like brush strokes, it probably doesn't matter and you can go with a JPG.

If your image has an irregular shaped border, or is a drawing or painting with lots of detail which you want to preserve and recreate in print you'll probably be better off with a PNG file.

The primary difference in these two file types is the size of the image file they'll create. JPGs were designed to compress information – which is great and often necessary if you want to email something or post it to the internet. PNG files hold lots more data and can create images which more closely resemble the original.

Just be warned if you have a LOT of big PNG images to place in your book's digital file, it may slow down your computer's ability to function quickly while you're busy editing the document. It may also create a GIGANTIC final file that will take a lot of digital storage if you need to email it anyone for feedback, or to otherwise transfer it between computers for viewing.

I'm going to choose PNG for now, but both choices should be okay as long as you follow the next step I'm going to recommend.

On my software, I have to click SHOW MORE to get to the options. Once I'm there, I can verify that it's going to scan to a PNG or JPG file type, and that it's going to do so in COLOR. The next thing I want you to do is set the Resolution to 600 dpi. That's dots-per-inch, and it may likely be the highest setting on your device. If you have higher settings than 600 dpi, I don't recommend it, just because the file sizes would become so enormous you'd wind up causing your computer to slow down or maybe even crash when you're trying to add them all into your book file later.

Finally, you want to make sure you are scanning and SAVING your images to a place on the computer you can find later. The default on mine is to save it to the Scans folder, but I can click here and choose to place it somewhere else.

Okay, now it's time to click Scan! You'll hear the scanner while it's working.

When it's done, you may choose to open up your file and verify that it scanned the way you wanted. This is a good idea if you're new to the whole scanning thing! Better to refine the process here at the beginning than to scan 12 images and then figure out the images were being placed face-up instead of face-down on the scanner and you have to do them all over again.

Once you've verified that everything's good and you know where your files are being stored, you can go ahead and work through all the images you have ready. One at a time, so they will be saved in the easiest way for you to work with them later.

That's it for this step! In our next video we'll talk about how to add those digital images to your book file.

Scanning Your Illustrations

In this video I'm going to show you how to quickly and efficiently add your scanned digital images to your book file.

When I'm demonstrating something onscreen and asking you to do it on yours… you may find it helpful to view the class video on your mobile device – a cell phone or tablet – while you're actually working on the computer. That way you can pause the video while you look for the tool buttons, and then unpause when you're ready to move to the next step.

First you open up your working document, then click into the page where you want to place the image. One of your choices on the toolbar is to insert pictures. Click this. You'll be prompted to locate the file on your computer… so click through to the area or folder you designated when they were being scanned.

If you only get a title list of the images (with really exciting names like IMG05202015), you might look for the MORE OPTIONS button in the top right. Click there and change the view selection to a larger thumbnail icon. This will probably be helpful as you decide which image you mean to place on each page.

When you find the picture you want, then double-click it, or single-click and choose OK.

After a second or two, the image will appear inside your page. You can click and drag it to reposition the picture. You can also resize the image by click and dragging one of the corner tools on the picture. Be sure and use the CORNER tool and not one from a center. You don't want your image to look like it's been reflected through a fun-house mirror.

Once you've got the size and position you like, you may need to use the Send Backward tool so the image goes behind the Text Box. Just know that if your image disappears altogether, you may need to use the Bring Forward tool, because you probably accidentally sent it behind the background! Or if you're not sure what happened, you should always remember to try the UNDO tool – which looks like an arrow facing around toward the left. UNDO is a sequential tool, so you can press it and then press it again and again to move backward through the most recent series of steps you've taken as you work on your file.

Now, at this point, I'm not going to recommend you spend a lot of time refining each and every element of your image and text on the page. Instead, I'm going to suggest that it's more efficient to go through and add all the images you have ready to your document at once. Tweak them just enough so they're not hanging off the edge of the page or anything… then move on to the next one.

And of course you'll want to remember to go back to your Title Page and include an image from your book that really grabs attention, as well as doing something fun and attention getting with your title.

As an inexpensive alternative… and a darn good marketing idea since your book's cover is it's biggest sales asset… I'd recommend you pop over to and engage one of the professional cover designers there who can arrange a spectacular design and typography for your cover… for as little as just $10 for front and back cover. Yes, I said spectacular. And yes, I said $10.

My favorite designer there is Pixelstudio from Bosnia. I can't recommend their work highly enough, and when they deliver something so amazing you can't believe you only spent ten bucks for it, you can leave them a tip. For an extra $10 they'll even send you the photoshop design files so if you ever need to make a change, or if you want to build a series of titles around this theme, you'll be all set to make a couple of tweaks and run with it!

We'll come back in another video to talk about ways you can refine and add polish to images inside your book to give it a truly professional look and feel.

Be sure to SAVE your work often, and reward yourself at the end of your work-session with a quick read-through of the book while you flip between the screens and look at the pictures at the same time! Maybe even invite some friends and family for this first Story Time, or if your loved ones don't live in the same area, you could whip out your cell phone and record a quick video to send to them so they can be part of the fun and celebrate with you!

No matter what, be sure and have fun with this step. DO NOT be tempted to obsess over picture placement or text details yet! I want you to make the most effective use of your time, and today… that's by adding all your images at once.

Adding Digital Images to Your Book File

Welcome back. Today I'm going to show you seven of my favorite easy tools to make your illustrations look and feel more professional inside your digital book file.

You may want to use several of these inside your book, or depending on the images, maybe you only need one.

When I'm demonstrating something onscreen and asking you to do it on yours… you may find it helpful to view the class video on your mobile device – a cell phone or tablet – while you're actually working on the computer. That way you can pause the video while you look for the tool buttons, and then unpause when you're ready to move to the next step.

First, there's CROP. This is a quick-and-dirty tool which allows you to select just a portion of the digital image to display inside your page. Maybe you'd like to trim off a ragged edge, or maybe you've decided you just want to focus and zoom in on one of the characters. When you click the Crop tool, you'll see black lines appear at the sides and corners. You can click and grab these to define the area you want to keep in your finished image selection.

If you change your mind later, you can select the image by clicking on it, then open up the crop tool and narrow it further, or expand it back to its original content.

Second, I like Wrap Text – because when I set it to None or Square or Tight, I can change the way it treats the text in my Text Box. Most of the people I work with HATE it when their text moves every time they reposition their images. If this is you too, then set the Wrap Text feature to NONE.

Third, I like the auto-corrections features available in most programs which allow you to adjust the brightness, contrast, and sharpness of your images. Select an image in your document by double-clicking on it, then in the toolbar (Format tab if you're using Publisher or Powerpoint), select Corrections or the Brightness/Contrast tool. They're usually in the top-left corner. In the newer versions of these software products, you can simply hover above the different choices, and it will preview on your screen so you can compare before making a selection.

Fourth, I sometimes like to use the Recolor feature – also usually available somewhere in the upper left corner of the toolbar. This is especially useful if you might like to create a Vintage look for your book, as Sepia tones is one of the options.

Fifth, you may like to use a picture style or add a border or effect to the images inside your book. The presets offer up a wide variety of choices, or you can combine different effects by choosing them one at a time from the Picture Border and Picture Effects buttons. A commonly used effect is Soft Edges – which will give a different feel to your square and rectangular images by letting them fade at the outside edges instead of have hard definition. Or you may like the idea of framing each of your illustrations with the same type of border.

Sixth, maybe something went wonky between the time you laid out the book and when the illustrations were done… or for whatever reason… you decide the image you just inserted is FACING THE WRONG DIRECTION!!! Yikes. This happened to me on my first book in multiple places. Relax! Here's the trick. Look for the Rotate button on your toolbar. It may say rotate, or it may look like a couple of triangles with an arrow around them. Click that and choose FLIP HORIZONTAL.

This can be really useful if you need characters on different pages to be facing each other, or if you simply need to focus reader's attention in toward the center of the book rather than off to the outside of your pages. Magazines do this all the time to make sure their readers aren't getting distracted. Keep folks' eyes focused in toward the center of your pages (and two-page spreads) whenever possible!

And FINALLY, seventh… one of the all-time favorite tools I use to make illustrations look super professional… is NOT YET available in MS Publisher. This really bums me out, because otherwise I find this program to be so fast and simple to use I can teach elementary students how to format their books.

If you want to take advantage of this step, you can open up a new blank document in either MS Word or Powerpoint. It's not available in the free online versions, so you'll have to use the full-blown software, or put all your images and your book file on a flash drive and take them with you to the library or a friend's house.

Or if you're working in Powerpoint to begin with, you can do this right from your main file.

Here's what you're going to do. Open both your book file and the blank document at the same time. Insert the original image into the blank Word or Powerpoint document, and on the Format tab, look on the very left-hand side for Remove Background.

Depending on the level of detail in your image, this may work all in one step, or you may have to refine it a little. What this tool gets used for is to create an image which has a very irregular border – right around the edges of the character or object of focus – so you can layer it on top of other images, or place it on top a different color background.

Here's an example of how I combined three photos to make one image:

Make sense?

Okay, now I know you might be tempted to want to spend a bazillion hours playing around with all the options, but I want you to swear to me you're going to spend no more than 10 minutes per page of your book right now. Deal?

I'm suggesting 10 minutes as a way to save you from yourself. Way too many times I've seen people blow an hour or two designing this ultimately cool first page… only to discover when they were twelve pages in that there was an easier way to do it, or that they'd changed their minds on how they wanted the text and images to be laid out… or even that they wanted to change the whole story. YIKES!

So for now, promise me you'll set a timer for no more than 10 minutes, and when time's up… no matter what… you'll move on to a different page. Okay? And after you leave each page, I also want you to remember to SAVE YOUR WORK!!!

This is me with your best interests at heart. You can curse me now… and thank me later!

Adding Professional Touches to Your Images and Text
Finishing Touches
3 Lectures 30:48

Welcome back! Today we're going to set up your online account at and you are very soon going to be able to get a first glimpse at what your printed book will look like!

Yet again I'm demonstrating something onscreen and asking you to do it on yours… so you may find it helpful to view the class video on your mobile device – a cell phone or tablet – while you're actually working on the computer. That way you can pause the video while you look for the tool buttons, and then unpause when you're ready to move to the next step.

Okay, time to open an Internet Browser on your computer and go to this website:

CreateSpace is a division of which has helped thousands of indie and self-pubbed authors get their works into print for less than an overpriced cappuccino. It can also, if you later choose, allow you to list your children's picture book for sale directly on at no additional fee.

Okay now that you've reached the website, there's a direct link to it down in the video description pane below if you have any trouble getting there on your own.

When you arrive you're going to see a log-in area on the left. Since this is your first time here, I want you to look for the blue Sign Up button and click it.

You'll need to add a valid Email address where CreateSpace can notify you of updates to the progress of your book, and also enter a Password you'll use each time you need to sign in.

Do yourself a favor by writing down or recording this email address and password combination somewhere so you'll be able to remember it when you need to log in again later!

Next, enter your first and last names and your country of residence.

Under “What type of media are you publishing” I want you to select Book.

If you would like to receive regular email and updates from CreateSpace then leave the checkbox checked. Otherwise uncheck it and click Create My Account.

This will automatically generate an email sent to the address you just provided. The next thing you will need to do is open up that email and click on the link you find there to confirm you are a human and not an evil spam bot.

When you click on that link, it will direct you back to CreateSpace where you'll be able to start assembling the pieces as you create and upload your book project.

The most important step I want you to complete in the remainder of this video is to get your ISBN number for your book so we can finalize your digital file.

To get there, I want you to click Start New Title on your screen now, and choose Guided Version. The first thing you're going to do is fill out a couple of details like Title, Author, and Illustrator. Just type in the boxes like so…

And now on the next screen, we're ready to get our ISBN.

I'm going to recommend that unless you are hoping to launch your own publishing company, or have other reasons for wanting to spend $125 or more, that you choose the CreateSpace-assigned FREE ISBN. There is virtually no down-side to this, and it will save you loads of money if you're just interested in getting your book finished with a minimum of headaches and decisions.

So to do that, you're going to click here, and I want you to copy this number down for your records – somewhere you can find it permanently – and we're going to go back to our book file in the next video and add that in on the Copyright page. If you'd prefer to copy and paste it so you don't mis-type anything, you can use your mouse now to click-and-drag to highlight it, then press Ctrl-C or Command-C to copy it to your computer's clipboard.

You can log out for now because we have a couple steps to finish up with our file before we can move forward today. Just be sure you have written down both your book's ISBN, as well as your email login and password credentials for CreateSpace.

Okay, can't wait to see the excitement build as you get within footsteps away from initiating the process to get your book in print!

Setting up Free CreateSpace Account and Adding ISBN

Here's a quick tour through the finished version of "Write Away!" to jumpstart your imagination for what's possible.

I will go back to the beginning, from my title page. For the background, I have used the Fill Shape tool on the Format tab to change to a complementary deep orange color, and copied and pasted this background throughout the document for consistency.

I have selected a font and size and color, and used the the rotate tool from the Format tab to slant the title. I've opted to match the author and illustrator notice on the cover with the same font as I'm using for the interior text. I've also trimmed away the white background from the cover illustration using the Remove Background tool from MS Word or Powerpoint's Format tab.

If you have purchased your own ISBN for your book, you may also include a publishing logo and imprint name on your copyright page.

Because my book is about cheese, and because there was plenty of blank space on the copyright and dedication pages, we chose to add a few illustrations here to dress things up.

As I flip ahead, you'll see that I ultimately chose to have Melvin begin the story on a right-hand side, so I inserted an intentionally blank page to balance the "divisible by 4" total page count. You'll see that not only did I add Melvin in his bed, but I layered on top a dreamy thought bubble, and then layered again an image of a cheese block as another element on top of that. You also can layer your images to create something with more depth on the page. And finally I made a decision on the font, font size, and font color which will stay constant throughout the book's text.

As I move forward, I've chosen to have the left-hand page devoted solely to that illustration (and again I used the Remove Background tool to delete the blank white space around the image), while the right-hand page holds all the text in one larger, centered box.

I repeated that same layout on the next double-page spread, and then on the following double-page spread, I use an illustration which spans both pages with dialogue. I moved Mom's text up to the top left-hand corner of the left page, and Melvin's response down to the lower right-hand corner of the right page.

On the following page, this is where I decided to add in that extra illustration to show Melvin finding a loose feather when he's cleaning up his room, which makes him think he could be the next William Shakespeare.

Next is the double-page layout we talked about earlier with Melvin's dad sending him out with the trash, and another added illustration just to show Melvin headed out to the trash can and getting distracted when he sees the berry bush.

Then we see Melvin sitting at his wooden block desk in the classroom, on an eraser seat, and the teacher on the right. Remember when I said you can zoom in or zoom out on a scene? When we turn the page, we zoom out on the classroom scene and see Melvin surrounded by the rest of the class, while the teacher is at the blackboard. Each of the illustrations in this scene were created individually and then layered digitally. So Melvin is one image, the other students at their desks is one image, the blackboard is one image, and the teacher is another image. Each one inserted into the file and then layered to build the scene.

So don't feel that you or your illustrator has to have the whole concept in mind at the very beginning. You can add or subtract elements as you find you need them, and using the Remove Background tool, you can trim items so they seem to float transparently on top of other items.

Alright, here is that crisis moment where Melvin thinks, "Please, I just want to worship my cheese!" and then grandma swoops in and saves the day telling him to, "Just sit down and write!"

Remember when I warned you that you might get into situations where things don't go exactly to plan? (Gee, I don't know if this has ever happened to you before??) Me and my illustrator got all the way down to the deadline and realized we didn't have a final illustration of grandma for the penultimate page. To save time and sanity, we talked about simply zooming in on the image of grandma from the previous scene - using the Crop feature and then enlarging the image. So this is just one possible solution you might use if something similar happens to you.

Finally, we finished up with a picture of Melvin holding his completed book, followed by an About the Author and About the Illustrator page. And then remember I said we would have one last blank page (because every front side of a piece of paper also has a back), so we decided to make a little cheese trail leading down to the corner. Melvin has eaten his way to the end of the book.

I hope this gives you some ideas as to how you can go back with your book file now and make any changes you want to do. I'll meet you back here in our next video to show you how to prepare your digital file to be ready to upload to CreateSpace so you can get that printed copy of your book in the mail!

Polishing Ideas for Final Book Design

Welcome back! I know you had an amazing time assembling all the pieces of your book into a digital file. It's really rewarding to see it all come together on the screen in front of you. Okay, sometimes it's frustrating too because the computer doesn't respond the way you expect it to, or the tool's not where you think it's going to be… or in my case because one division of MS hasn't updated it's toolbar tools with stuff another division's had available for years and years... like the Remove Background feature.

Anyway, at this point you've made enough progress to be ready to move forward with a first draft of your book file, and possibly even go as far as to generate a professional printed proof. Many picture book writers and illustrators reach a point where they've spent too much time staring at the computer screen and can no longer objectively see details which might leap out on the printed page.

Just know that you can do the next series of steps as many times as you need until you're comfortable and confident with your finished book, but that by moving forward today with this next step, you may actually save yourself time and frustration in the long run.

Once again, I'm going to be demonstrating something onscreen and asking you to do it on yours… so you may find it helpful to view the class video on your mobile device – a cell phone or tablet – while you're actually working on the computer. That way you can pause the video while you look for the tool buttons, and then unpause when you're ready to move to the next step.

Now, what you need to do with your book file – from whatever software you've been using to create it – is to add your book's ISBN to the Copyright page.

So I'd like you to pull out that 13-digit number you wrote down or copied from CreateSpace, go to your Copyright page, click in the Text Box to edit and add that number in. Then re-save your document. All set? Excellent!

Next we're going to do another save of your document, but this time we're going to Save As a PDF file type. This is essentially a one-layer image file of each page inside the book, that is generated at the right dimensions, which we will soon upload to a website that can help you get a professionally printed and bound copy in your hands for right around the cost of a pumpkin spice latte.

There are just a few steps you need to know to do this properly so stuff doesn't fall through the cracks later. No – it's not just as easy as File, Save As, PDF. I wish it were, but it's not, so pay attention, make some notes, or put it up on your mobile device as you do the steps on your computer at the same time!

First, if you haven't already… I recommend you save a copy of the latest version of your book to a safe place on your computer.

Then, I'd like you to go to the File menu of your program and choose Save As. Depending on the version of your software, you may have to select the destination folder first, but either way when you reach a dialog box like this, I want you to look for Save As Type: in the area below your file name. Click the drop-down menu and select PDF.

Next, I want you to locate the Option button which appeared inside the bottom of the dialog box. I'd like you to make sure either High Quality or Commercial Press is selected at the top, and either 300dpi or 600dpi is selected in the middle so you're generating a digital file with enough detail to print beautifully.

Next, make sure the box next to Bitmap Text when fonts may not be embedded is checked. This will help ensure your PDF and printed book look just the way you laid things out on screen.

Okay, now… take a deep breath and click Print Options. This is going to open an additional dialog box on your screen. There are a few things you need to verify here as well. Most importantly, make sure ONE PAGE PER SHEET is chosen, so you're not generating partial images across multiple pages. That one would make you crazy for sure. Next, make sure the paper size corresponds with the file size of your book.

REMEMBER: if your book has bleed – that is the color or print extends all the way to the edge of the page, then the finished dimensions of your book's file needs to be larger than the actual trim-size of your book. For an 8.5” square book, the finished dimensions should be 8.75” square. For an 8” x 10” book, it should be 8.25” x 10.25”. And for an 8.5” x 11” book, it should be 8.75” x 11.25”.

Finally, make sure the page range selected is All Pages, and that Allow Bleeds is selected if your book's color and print extend to the edge of the page.

Then click Okay, Okay again, and Save to generate the PDF of your book file. It may take a few minutes for your computer to prepare this file. In general the more and larger images your file includes, the longer it may take to generate the PDF, but probably no more than a few minutes.

If you're getting antsy, get up and go to the kitchen for a glass of water.

When the process is completed, I want you to open up that PDF you just created and double-check a few things for me.

Make sure that all the pages have been printed to the dimensions you need. Do the images go all the way out to the edge with no white space around them?

Does all the text still look right? Or are there some funny blips or characters appearing that you don't remember putting into your book?

Does everything else look exactly the way you expect it to?

If yes, you can celebrate and skip ahead to the next video!


If not, then we need to go back to your original file and use a slightly different approach.

While the Save As PDF feature has gotten better and better over the years, I still some books come through with quirky oddities that didn't appear in the original, so instead of Save As PDF, we'll need to Print to PDF.

And to do that, we'll need to get some free software to make that happen.

I like Adobe's – and you can get a free trial download at:

My husband like Primo PDF, which is also a free download from:

Either way, you can download and install the free software to your machine from the links on screen. When that's ready, then you can go back to your original book file and we'll do this again!

All set? Okay, this time I want you to go to the File menu and choose Print (instead of Save As). Now that you've installed Adobe Print to PDF or Primo PDF, you'll have an additional choice on your printer selection tool. Choose either Adobe PDF or Primo PDF by clicking on it from the dropdown list.

Next open up the Printer Properties box. Click over to the Paper/Quality tab and choose Advanced in the lower right-hand corner.

From the Paper Size drop-down menu, select Postscript Custom Page Size. Next, click the button to its right labeled Edit Custom Page Size and change the Height and Width to what's appropriate for your book. Remember to add 1/8” to every outside edge of your dimensions if your book has bleed.

Next, in the area where you see True Type Font, I want you to change Substitute with Device Font to Download as Softfont.

Then, under Postscript Options at the bottom left, I want you to click the plus symbol at its side to expand the choices, then change True Type Font Download Option from Automatic to Bitmap. Click Okay to close this dialog box.

Now you're back to the first dialog box, and I want you to switch back to the Adobe PDF Settings tab.

In the Default Settings box at the top, make sure High Quality Print is selected, and finally from the checkbox area at the bottom, I need you to UNCHECK Rely On System Fonts Only.

Take a deep breath and click Okay.

With a little bit of luck, a preview of your book's file has generated on the right, and it doesn't look wonky.

If however it looks like a partial page, check and make sure the Settings area below is set to One Page Per Sheet instead of Tiled or Multiple Pages.

Also double-check that PostScript Custom Page Size is selected rather than standard letter size or other.

That's it now, and you should be all set to finally click PRINT at the top of the screen, and select a destination folder to save your file.

Go and have something stronger from the kitchen than just water, and I'll meet you back here in our next video to celebrate and upload your file!

Creating Your Book's PDF
Uploading Your Book and Cover
4 Lectures 40:51

In this lesson I'm going to show you how to setup your book's interior and upload the files to CreateSpace.

As with previous videos, if you'd like to watch and work simultaneously, bring this lesson up on your mobile device while you work on your computer.

If you're no longer logged in to your CreateSpace account, you can begin by opening up your Internet Browser and going to (the link is also below in the video description box). Sign in with your login credentials on the left.

This will bring you to your Member Dashboard area, where you should click your book's title from the center of the screen.

So far we've added the basic data and generated an ISBN, so now we're going to click over to the Interior section.

At the top of the screen you'll see there are two types of covers – glossy and matte. Both are on a nice quality cover stock and will look and feel like covers on professional trade paperbacks you buy at the bookstore. The matte cover feels more like a suede texture under your fingertips, while the gloss has a great shine and is easy to wipe fingerprints off of – come on, remember you're writing for children here!

Next, you need to tell them what trim size you have chosen, so from the drop-down menu, select your book's trim size – 8.5” x 8.5”, or 8” x 10”, or 8.5” x 11” are the most likely ones for your project.

You also need to let them know if the color and images in your file are meant to bleed out to the edge of the printed page. Select that here when you choose Interior type. Most likely your interior is going to be Full Color with Bleed.

Next is the fun part! We're going to upload your book file!

Scroll down and click Browse to locate the PDF on your computer. Find the file then double-click to begin.

It may take a few minutes to transfer your file – especially if you have lots of large hi-res images inside it. You can see a progress window, and when it's done, you'll be alerted. Just be patient, and if you normally have slow internet service, be even more patient.

Okay, now you see the Upload and Processing is complete, and now we have the option to PREVIEW our book file. Are you excited now? Because this is so cool it almost hurts me to make you wait a second longer!

Alright, I'm going to ask it to open up the Online Digital Previewer, and you'll see once again it takes just a few seconds (usually less than a minute) to generate. When it's ready you'll get a dialog box on top of the preview window with a button that says “Get Started” in the bottom center. Click the button and get ready to swoon!

What you'll see is an automated previewer that lets you see exactly how the page breaks will fall, and where the outside margins are that your text shouldn't go past, and when you click the arrow to scroll forward through your book, the pages actually turn in front of you much like a real book you'd hold in your hands. This is so much fun to see your work the first time and to really get some objective feedback about the fonts, font-sizes, and image layouts you've chosen. Is it legible on-screen this way? If not, you should consider going back to your original file and making things bigger, or using a clearer typeface.

In the right-hand column, CreateSpace's automated review system will also pinpoint anything which might cause problems in the printing process later.

I've worked with several authors who received notices about images less than 200dpi, but still went forward and the print quality was perfectly fine. Don't let that message scare you too much.

Messages you should pay attention to, however, include ones about text extending too far into the margin, or color not bleeding far enough off the document edge. These can hold up the process ad nauseum until corrected in your original files, so be sure and practice literacy – by READING and RESPONDING to any messages other than the 200dpi you might see on the right-hand side here.

If you'd like to have a version of the preview you can share with friends or family, you can use the button here to download a digital proof.

When you're down oogling and ahhing… and possibly creating a list of things you'd like to go back and tweak in your original file… then click Back to Book Details up in the top left-hand corner. This will take you back to your CreateSpace title account, and allow you to Save or Continue the process.

That's it for this lesson! In our next video I'll show you how to build your book cover a couple different ways if you haven't already raced to and my friends at Pixelstudio.

Upload and Preview Your Book's Interior

In today's lesson you're going to learn how to put together your book cover using templates I provide in the Downloads section of this lesson.

Or you can still take my Best Practices recommendation from a previous lesson and go hire Pixelstudio or another quality designer on to design your front and back book covers, including images you send them. At just $10 for front and back cover, it's hard to beat… and will give your book an incredible edge at sales time.

If you're ready to design your own book cover, scroll to the Downloads section where you will select a Cover Template based on your book's trim size, and the software of your choice.

When you have that opened on your screen, I'm going to walk you through some quick easy things.

Your back cover content will be placed on the left-hand side of this document. I'll place a little reminder here on screen for now. What will happen during the printing process is that your cover is printed separately from the interior on a heavier cardstock. The back cover falls on the left-hand side, followed by the spine toward the center of the document, and the front cover content will fall on the right-hand side.

Okay, to make this is as quick and easy as possible, you can duplicate your Title Page content by opening your book's digital file. From the Home tab you can Select All (or Ctrl-A) and copy them to your Clipboard, and then return to your cover file and paste the objects in. If the items don't automatically paste to the right-hand side where the front cover should go... then while all the objects are still selected, you can use the arrow keys on your keyboard to shift the images (all of them all at once) to the proper spot.

You'll also want to check that your cover images go all the way over to the right-hand edge.

What I did for my back cover was to go to a blank page of my document and copy the background square with the fill-color I loved, and then pasted that in to my cover file. Since I copied the object from a spot that was already a left-hand page, when I pasted, it went automatically into the exact space where I needed it. No need to tweak. But if when you paste yours in, you're too far to the left or the right, then use those arrow keys to move things a tiny bit at a time.

Now, a couple items I'd like to add to my back cover are a picture of Melvin and some "teaser text" to give readers an idea of what the book is about. I can copy the image from my finished book file and paste it in. You do need to keep in mind that you'll have to reserve some space at the bottom of the back cover for your book's ISBN/UPC barcode. This will be placed at the lower right-hand corner of the back cover.

If you are using a free CreateSpace assigned ISBN, you do not need to include that barcode in your file submission. They will add it for you during the Review process. However, if you have purchased your own ISBN, then I encourage you to use a free tool made by my friend Derek Murphy at You'll type your 13-digit ISBN in the top box, then your retail price in the bottom box, and the tool will generate the ISBN/UPC barcode image you'll need. You can get the exact specs on barcode placement at:

Now, I know you're asking, "Where does the book spine text go?" Unfortunately, until our books get to about 112 pages, there is not enough room on the edge of the folded cover to place text in a softcover format. We leave that overlap area here blank. If you choose to do a hardcover release later, you'll have enough space to accommodate spine text on that version of your book.

Last step is to save your cover document. we're going to create a PDF file, just like we did with our book's interior. You will go to the File menu and choose Save As, choose your destination folder, under the file name change Save As Type to "PDF", and then we'll go back through those options boxes we did earlier with our interior.

Choose "High Quality" or "Commercial Press" and making sure "Bitmap fonts when text may not be embedded" is chosen. On the Print Options, we'll verify "One Page Per Sheet" and that the Paper Size is the same as our Publication Page. Then click "OK, OK, and Save".

Remember, you always want to go back to that final PDF file you just created and open it and verify that everything looks the way you intended in your original document. For whatever reason, it sometimes gets "lost in translation" and we need to proceed with the PRINT TO PDF steps instead of Save As PDF.

That's it for this step, but remember another option for cover creation is outsourcing this step. I recommend the guys at at Pixelstudio. (I get no kickbacks, I just LOVE their work.) For just $10 you can get terrific professional typography and image work for your front and back cover.

See you in the next video where you'll learn how to upload your cover and submit those files to CreateSpace review so you can get that finished printed book in your hands!

Creating Your Book Cover

Time to submit that beautiful book cover we just created. If you're not already logged into CreateSpace, then open up your Internet Browser and head to Sign in with your credentials, and click your title from the Membership Dashboard.

If you have updated your book's Interior file, you can head to that page and upload your latest PDF – remember you can't submit your original working document… you have to either Save As PDF or Print to PDF to generate the file you need to send here.

Otherwise, you can head straight to the Cover section of the process. Again, they're going to confirm whether you want a Glossy or Matte cover, and then you can scroll down to Upload Your Book Cover file, click on that choice, and then from the Browse button, locate your Cover File – again the PDF version (not the original working file) – and double-click to start the upload.

You'll see a dialog box briefly, and then when it's done, you'll be prompted to Continue.

Unfortunately, there's no previewer enabled to immediately show you how your cover looks right away, but after the next step, you'll be able to log back in and see that digital preview – within 24 hours.

For now, I want you to verify that you've submitted the best version of your book's interior and cover and that you're ready to proceed with potentially ordering a physical printed copy.


And then scroll down to Submit for Review.

This will send your book files to a queue where a real live human being will have a look to head off any potential crises at the path.

The next thing you'll know, you're going to receive an email from CreateSpace – sometimes it's as fast as 12-16 hours, but it's always within about 24 hours.

If you've not already filled out the Royalty and Tax information, they will prompt you onscreen to to go complete that. If you instead want to go back and work on other parts of your book setup, you'll need to exit out of this browser screen and re-log in to

Submit Cover and Book File for Review

There are a few steps you can take care of on your CreateSpace account during that 12-24 hour period of time when you're waiting to hear back from the Review team.

If you're not already logged in: and fill in your credentials. If you eventually plan to release your book for sale on, one of the items you will need to do is to fill in that Tax information. Click the blue link inside the pink box at the top of your screen, or you can also get there from the My Account tab by choosing Royalty Payment Information.

First step is fill in your country of residence, Payee Name, and Address. Next you'll complete the payment type (where and how your royalties will be issued to you). I recommend Direct Deposit because there is no minimum earnings requirement. If you select a live check, you will need to reach $100 (dollars, euros, pounds) before a check will be issued.

Next you'll fill in the routing and account number for the bank to which your royalties will be deposited, and select account type (checking or savings).

We go next to the Tax & Business Information section which is tailored to tax requirements based on your country of residence. I'll be filling this out as a US resident. Click the gold button Submit Tax Info.

You'll be asked click-box questions about citizenship, then click the gold Save and Continue. Next you'll be asked for your federal tax classification. Most of the authors I work with are filing as Sole Proprietor/Individual. This is self-employed, Schedule C type income, but if you have one of the other kinds of businesses, you should select the choice that is right for you. Verify the name you're filing under, and if you're operating under another name, fill that in, as well as address information.

In the Tax ID area, you will be prompted to fill in a number. You will need to either submit your Social Security Number or a Tax ID Number or business EIN in this section. This is a requirement for using the service, because CreateSpace/Amazon will need to issue you a 1099-MISC form for royalty payments at the end of each calendar year. Click Save and Continue.

On the next screen you should verify all the content, then click Save and Continue again.

On the following form, you can have them mail the documents to you or you can consent to electronic receipt of this document by clicking in the checkboxes. Finally type your name in the box and typing in your email address to which the account is linked, you will be able to submit those documents electronically.

You can return to the Member Dashboard, where there are a couple more sections you can take care of while you're waiting on the Review process to finish up with your book files. Select your title from the center, and then Channels from the Distribute tab., Amazon Europe, and the CreateSpace eStore are automatically selected. As you scroll down you can select Expanded Distribution options for free. If you have used a free CreateSpace ISBN, you will be able to select Libraries & Academic Institutions. I also recommend selecting CreateSpace Direct. Finally, once you have selected a book genre for your title on the next screen, you will be able to come back here and select Booksellers and Online Retailers. Click through the link there to select that BISAC code (genre).

From the next screen, you will be prompted to add a brief Product Description of your book which will show on the item page for your book.

Then the BISAC category list is a dropdown menu of genre choices. You should scroll down through the alphabetical list to Juvenile Fiction or Juvenile Non-Fiction, depending upon your book's content. Once you select that top-tier genre, you will see a second-tier list of choices roll out. Scroll through all the available options and choose the category which best suits your title.

BISAC category choices may be changed over time, so if you determine your work is not reaching out well enough to your book's ideal readers, you may return later and tweak this choice.

Reading Level is a required selection next. Use your best instincts to guide parents and caregivers to make a choice as to what reading level your book is geared toward.

Additional items you can fill in are: Author Bio, Book Language, Country of Publication, and Keywords. Fill in FIVE keywords which best describe your book... AND reflect the types of things potential customers might search for when they're looking for a book like yours.

You can tweak these over time to help your book's marketing. Then click Save and Continue.

You can finally go back to the Channel screen and select Bookstores & Online Retailers and make sure the other channels are also selected and saved.

Now you'll be able to move forward to the Pricing page. CreateSpace will suggest a minimum list price based on their cost to print your book and cover your royalties. You must set your retail price above that minimum, and it is often Best Practice to use a price ending in .99 cents.

When you click Calculate, they will provide data about your royalty earnings for each of the various channels, and also in the British and Continental European markets.

You've now completed all the steps you can accomplish until you hear back from the Review process. We'll talk next video about how you can order your printed proof copy and finally get to hold your book in your very own hands!

Tax, Book Description, Genre, and Pricing
Proof Copy and Final Release
4 Lectures 33:26

I am so excited you are here today because you are about to take the final steps to put a finished, printed, professionally bound book in your hands. I cannot wait to share this with you today. You are sooo close to the finish line!

I know the incredible amount of work that you've put into making this happen. I just want to send kudos out to you because you set a goal for yourself and you took the baby steps that you needed in order to reach it. You are not going to be like all those other people out there who say, "Someday I'll write a book." You have WRITTEN a book, and you are about to live that dream in just a few short days when your book arrives via the mailman!

Today, we will talk about the email you'll receive from CreateSpace when your book has cleared Review.

If all is right with the universe you'll receive an email stating, "Congratulations," which will include a link you can follow to sign directly in and move forward. If however your files (for one reason or another) do not meet all their requirements, you'll see instead an email that details the items from the book's interior or cover which need to be tweaked before you can proceed.

You'll be able to click links from this email to learn more about the issues, and how to correct those items.

If this happens to you... DON'T FREAK OUT!!! It happens to everyone. Just read the email, fix the items, and resubmit. You are in the company of wonderful people who've written books submitted files, had them rejected, and then resubmitted and gotten on with things. Or perhaps even resubmitted multiple times. It's not a big deal. Just take the steps you need to take to move forward... and then keep going.


In the rest of this video, I'm going to walk you through that process to order your printed proof. Login at Your title will be listed in the Member Dashboard as "Awaiting Proof". Click into the title, and then choose Proof Your Book. You'll see a recap of the email at the top. Scroll down.

I recommend you first go through the View Digital Proof section. You may download a digital proof as well (now or later). When the Get Started button appears, you'll be able to see the finished cover you submitted, as well as the ISBN barcode CreateSpace applied. (If you purchased your own ISBN, however, remember you'll need to check out the submissions requirements linked in an earlier video so you know exactly where to place your ISBN/UPC barcode.

You may flip through your book from the onscreen arrows. My favorite part is that the pages turn just like a real book. I suggest you reward yourself with a quick read through (OUT LOUD) of your whole book.

After you come down from that amazing high, I want you to go back to the beginning of your document and review every single page. Make sure the areas of the illustration are falling just where you expect them to. Make sure the punctuation is exactly the way you wanted it to be. Make sure all the characters are still a match for the fonts you selected earlier. Just double-check!

Once done, click Back to Book Details. Then we'll scroll down to Order a Printed Proof and click Proceed to Cart. Your proof copy will cost somewhere in the $3.65 - $4.21 area. If you would like additional quantities of your proof, you can change that in the Quantity area, then Check Out. Fill in your name and shipping address and phone number and click Save & Continue.

Verify your shipping address and select Shipping Speed. I recommend the cheapest option. They often ship very quickly, even though the guaranteed date is many days out. Save your money if you're on a tight budget, and then you'll be able to purchase more copies of your finished book later.

Then on the next screen click Add New Address to fill in your billing information. Use info as it appears on the credit card you will use to make payment. Fill in the credit card type, number, expiration date, and click Finish.

On the next screen you will enter the secret code (3 digits) and click Save & Continue.

Review your order and click Confirm Order. You'll receive onscreen notice as well as an email as soon as the purchase is processed.

Most of the time you will receive an additional email when your proof is printed and shipped, however, I have worked with several authors who did not receive this notice, yet their books showed up in a week or so. This happens some time. If you're worried, after 10 days, then you can reach a Customer Service rep by scrolling to the bottom of your screen and selecting Contact Us and filling in the form to get a rep on the phone to help you. They'll call IMMEDIATELY, and it's super simple to get a human being on the phone.

I cannot wait until you receive your proof copy in the mail next week, and I am here celebrating and rejoicing with you!!

Order Your Printed Proof Copy

Welcome back! I know how hard it is to wait... those intermediary days between when you order your proof copy and when it arrives, so I want to give you a couple of steps you can take in the meantime to plot out the future for you and your book.

From the homepage, instead of logging in, scroll down to the Higher Royalties area in the center right. Click the blue Economics link. Here's where you'll be able to compute how much it will cost you to get books in your hand so you can distribute them later to friends and family... or perhaps turn around and retail them at full (or discount) price to earn even more money.

Click on the Buying Copies tab on the right and scroll down to the calculator. Fill in Interior Type and Trim Size and Page Count. With a quantity of 1, you'll see the cost per copy is the same as what you paid for your proof copy. This cost per copy does not change regardless of quantity.

Shipping is a flat-rate based on quantity of books purchased at one time. It does not reflect any difference based on your book's size or weight. It's solely based on quantity. When you order more books at a time, you can reduce your gross cost per copy (book plus shipping). I have found the sweet spot to be at quantity of 50.

Use the calculators on this page to plot out the quantity orders which make the most sense for you and your budget.

When you want to extend your dream, scroll back up and move to the Royalties tab. Then scroll down to similar calculators, fill in the info and CreateSpace will provide you a detailed list of Royalty payments you can expect to receive based on the retail pricing you fill in.

I hope you enjoy this part of the process. Your proof copy is on its way, and I can't wait until you're holding it IN YOUR HANDS!!! Talk soon!

Passing the Time

Welcome back! Did you kiss the mailman the day your print proof showed up? I remember the day I got my first proof in the mail. I was all professional as I took it from the delivery person. “thank you” and blah, blah, blah… and then as soon as I closed the door, I ripped it open, pulled out the book, and did this insane level of screaming and dancing in my front hallway.

Now, of course, I came down from the magical mystical high as I noticed some things I wanted to go back and change… but I'm here to tell you that it happens to everyone! Release whatever anxieties might crop up if things aren't absolutely PERFECT – and well, that's a whole other lecture entirely – and make yourself a list of things which ought to be fixed to get you to the next step… pick a time to tackle those changes, do them in priority order, and get 'em done!

Right now is not the part of the process to slow down! Now is the time to focus massive love and energy on getting the little stuff done, so you can get to the part where you enjoy being a published author and showing off your book to family and friends.

So if there are things in your printed proof which you want to go back and change, remember… that's normal! Make yourself a list of them, and knock them out just as soon as you humanly can.

If you need to go back through the previous videos to remember how to rotate images, format font styles, Save As PDF, upload your files to CreateSpace, then DO THAT. NO EXCUSES, my friend! You are standing at the door of your future, and it's time to open it and WALK THROUGH!!!

You are soooo close to the finish line, my friend. And look at you now… ready to push the button which launches YOUR children's picture book into the universe!

So here we go, ready for the final countdown to release your book to the wild, order copies for yourself, or to distribute or sell locally yourself. And! If you choose to keep your book available in this channel, your title will also become LIVE for sale on – usually in 24-36 hours, often less!

Sign in at with your login credentials. Click through to your title, and to the Proof Your Book area. You will scroll down and either choose APPROVE or CHANGE (if you have items you need to go back and tweak).

When you are satisfied with everything, you are ready to click the blue Approve button. A dialog box will pop up and let you know your title will become available for sale in 24-36 hours on

The next steps you should verify are your Distribution Channels from the menu on the left, and the product description and pricing pages.

Finally we'll return to the Member Dashboard. You will be able to order your published copy by clicking Order Copies from the link on the same line as your title. The process is identical to the steps you took during the Proof Order stage. You will get an email when your books have printed and shipped.

I know you are celebrating today, and I am raising a glass in your honor. CONGRATULATIONS! I want to welcome you to this world as a PUBLISHED AUTHOR!!!

Approve and Release Your Book - Order Copies

It's been so amazing to get to be your guide on this journey to starting and FINISHING the children's picture book you've always dreamed of writing.

One baby step after another you got that beautiful and deeply personal story out of your head, and onto the page. You lavished attention on the words in each sentence, trimmed them up neatly, and polished so they absolutely sparkle – especially when reflected through the eyes of one special child.

Best of all, you learned how to take those words and add images to bring your story to life. You learned how to take those finished illustrations and turn them into a beautiful, full-color, professionally printed and bound book you now hold in your hands!

I want you to imagine again for just a moment the amazing feeling when that special child in your life is being tucked in a night and looks up into your eyes and says, “Tell me a story… Tell me YOUR story!”

…and you bring out your very own book, and watch the child snuggle in next to you with wide eyes and a smile filled with love, ready to share the adventure held within those pages. Ready to share that… with you. Again and again.

Perhaps you were writing this story for a child, a niece or nephew, or a grandchild of your own, or maybe you were writing to launch your own career as a picture book author. There's no limit to the possibilities, and now that you've made it to the other side, I want to open some windows in this publishing world and suggest a few ways you can move forward.

Your book is now ready to launch for sale through Amazon, the world's largest bookseller, and you can order copies for yourself to resell at retail price (which helps you earn a more significant royalty per sale), or to use however you see fit to further your great mission in this world. Maybe it's to give you credibility in your field of expertise, or perhaps it's to leverage speaking engagements, or even to see your book featured on the shelves of your local libraries and book stores.

But you can also give that special child in your life a gift that goes way behind bedtime. You can turn this book publishing experience into real world, infinitely practical life lessons.

Lessons in writing. Lessons in artistic creativity. Lessons in using computers and technology. Lessons in starting and finishing small projects, and rewarding yourself for reaching short-term goals.

But also lessons in which you talk about expenses versus revenues. Lessons about inventory, lessons about marketing and sales. Lessons about savings and compounding interest.

Perhaps lessons in putting those same publishing skills you've just learned for yourself… to use for others who want to get their books in print. Maybe this skill set gets refined, and it opens up avenues to create a small publishing business in which you or your loved ones do all the back-of-the-house tasks for other people who just want to get their words into a book but don't know how.

Lessons that start conversations and help your loved ones reach dreams of their own. Maybe together you and that special child create a series of books or even a publishing business whose royalties and earnings help cover gas money in high school, or car insurance, maybe textbooks for college, or even college tuition or a down payment on their first home.

The possibilities are endless now that you have the publishing skills other pay hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars for in order to get their books in print.

The choice is up to you!

And your journey begins today!

I welcome you to leave your comments and thoughts below, reflections from this journey you've just finished, and the dreams for the future which you're now about to embark on.

I congratulate you, I cheer you on, and I encourage you to take some time to celebrate your success. And I have a bunch of folks who've traveled this path before you and alongside you, who want to wish you congratulations as well!

We take great pleasure in being the first to welcome you to this amazing world… as a PUBLISHED AUTHOR.

YOU… are a published author! [yay!!!]

We're so excited for all you've accomplished, and I just know even bigger dreams (and ACHIEVEMENTS) are right around the corner for you.

We are all storytellers in this big beautiful world. We're here at Year of the Book, rooting you on, ready to hear this story and all the others you're about to create.

I'm Demi Stevens. May your life be filled with stories which bring you joy!

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About the Instructor
Demi Stevens
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306 Students
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Book Whisperer

Demi Stevens is CEO and editor-in-chief at Year of the Book press.

She guides authors and entrepreneurs through the writing, editing, and publishing phases to take their words from birth to book.

Perhaps you've been dreaming, “Someday I'll write a book,” or searching for a way to build authority and credibility in your field of expertise. In both cases, your professionally published book will become your most powerful business card.

Demi has personally helped people just like you achieve this lifelong dream of becoming a published author. Whether you're undertaking a short or long volume, she can guide you through the most efficient ways to publish your eBook and professional bound print book for sale through Amazon.

The only question which remains is, “What's YOUR book about?”