As an illustrator, it’s probably no surprise that I work on a lot of children’s books! But it might surprise you to know that one of the very first questions I ask people when they reach out to me about illustrating their children’s book is: Have you decided on the size?
To ensure that your book turns out exactly the way you’ve imagined, we have to work backwards from the vision you have of your finished book. We don’t want you to commission artwork in A4 size if your finished book will be 25cm square, because then you’ll have to chop off part of the art, or commission new illustrations!
If you’re not sure exactly the dimensions you’d like, here are a few things to consider:
Little hands will hold your books, so it’s important to choose a size that will be easy for children to grab onto. The dimensions of your book should be appropriate for the age group your book has been written for.
For example, board books for babies and toddlers often have smaller dimensions and sturdy pages that are easy for small hands to grip and turn. They might be square with rounded edges, or could be die cut in a shape that suits your story. Picture books for young children will usually be bigger than board books, but will have thinner pages. They might be square, or slightly taller than they are wide. Books for older children will likely be more rectangular and they are usually noticeably taller than they are wide.
Marketing your book is essential to make it a success - and it’s important to keep that in mind when choosing dimensions for print! People will make assumptions about a book the second they look at it, to determine whether it’s a book they’d be interested in buying. So, you need to make sure that your book is going to appeal to the right people. You don't want your book to be mistaken as being for older or younger readers than intended, and this is especially important online where shoppers can’t flip through your book.
For example, if a potential reader is looking for a bedtime storybook to gift a young child’s parents, but you've chosen a tall, narrow size, people who see your book online could mistake it for a chapter book, and assume that it’s for older readers. Likewise, if you’ve written a book for older children and chosen to make it square, it’s likely that people will automatically assume your book is for younger readers at first glance.
Choose a size that’s easy to read. The dimensions of your book will impact the font size and layout, which in turn affects readability. For early readers, larger fonts and clear spacing are important to help them follow the text easily, which may mean a compromise between picking a size that’s easy to hold, and including smaller, or less detailed illustrations so that your story can be read easily.
How much detail you envisage on the covers, and internal pages, will impact how small or large you’ll want your book to be. If you’d like a high level of detail, you may need to opt for a larger size so that no details are lost.
If you’d like to publish electronically, as well as physically, you'll want to choose a size that works well as an ebook. Your book will need to be a size that fits nicely on a tablet or ebook reader screen, so that readers can see everything on a page without having to zoom in or out.
Some printers have set sizes, so it’s best practice to choose your printer before you commission your artwork otherwise it may have to be resized, and you may lose important details, or it may have to be completely redrawn.
If you’re planning to publish through a print-on-demand service like Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), or IngramSpark, you’ll be limited to the sizes that they offer. If you’re using a different printer, they may have set dimensions too. Most printers can print your book in the specific size you’d like, however, there may be additional costs involved with choosing “unusual” dimensions - it’s best to check before you get started!
There are plenty of things to consider when choosing the perfect size for your book, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming - I’m here to make it easier on you! Feel free to have a browse of my blog for more information on the process of self-publishing and working with an illustrator, or book a no-cost, no-obligation Brainstorming Session, and we can work out which size would work best for your book.