Coloring books present unique challenges to those looking to publish them. Despite these challenges, publishing coloring books can be rewarding. The market is saturated with coloring books, but it’s still possible to make a profit by publishing them, especially if you find the niche that’s right for you and follow the advice below.
How to Create a Coloring Book
Creating a coloring book is time-consuming, but the process can be just as fun as it is challenging. Below are some questions you should consider, as well as some common questions authors have about the process.
What Is Your Budget?
The answer to this question will determine the course of your journey. Everything from what paper stock you use to what services you hire to how you distribute your book will hinge on your budget. Figure up a rough estimate of what you’re willing to spend, and then as you go through the steps of planning out your book, you can research specific services you will need in order to see if your estimate is realistic.
Who Is Your Audience?
Children’s coloring books have long been popular, but since 2014, there’s been a large market for adult coloring books. Know who you’re targeting. Children’s coloring books are typically simpler and less intricate than adult coloring books (depending on the age range). Coloring books can be used for pure entertainment, stress relief, and/or artistic practice using different mediums.
What Will Your Theme Be?
Coloring books have a range of themes, some of which may cater more to adults or children. Some popular themes include naturescapes, animals, fantasy creatures and settings, and mandalas.
Usually, children’s coloring books try to combine education with entertainment, so they could feature letters, numbers, pets, state birds, puzzles, etc. Adult coloring books are more complex and may feature famous artwork, landmarks, abstract designs, detailed environments, or romantic or erotic themes, etc.
Whatever theme you select, keep it consistent throughout the work. If you’re inspired by other themes, let that be a separate coloring book. Also, make sure your book’s title coincides with the theme so consumers know what to expect.
How Many Images Do You Need?
The suggested number of images in a coloring book varies depending on who you ask (from 10-60 depending on whether it’s a children’s or an adult coloring book), but most agree that 20-30 images is a good range.
The standard number of images in most coloring books is between 10 and 30. Providing more artwork can bring more value to your customers (but will also raise the cost of production).
How Will You Obtain Images?
If you’re an experienced artist, you can create your own artwork, preferably black and white line art. If you’re familiar with creating digital art, great. If you create your artwork traditionally, you’ll need to digitize it by scanning it into a design program. There, you can clean up your lines so the image is clear. Make sure the art is scaled to fit on whatever page size you select.
Even if you are a traditional artist, you may lack the technical knowledge needed to digitize your art and design a coloring book. If this is the case, you should send scans of your sketches to an experienced designer to clean up and format. Digital art is vastly different from traditional art in many ways. It comes with its own quirks and techniques, and different programs present various challenges.
If you’re not an artist, you can commission artwork to be created for your book, in which case you should make sure the artist specializes in digital art. Unless the artist is also familiar with interior page design, you’ll need to hire a designer for your book.
Some websites mention that you can purchase stock images or use royalty-free images in a coloring book. Just be aware that if you do this, the images may appear elsewhere online–they likely won’t be exclusive to your book. Be careful NOT to use any images you don’t own the rights to or have permission to use.
What About the Technical Aspects?
Some more technical aspects to consider are line width, image size, and trim size.
In KDP, the minimum line thickness of graphic elements should be 0.3 mm. You need to make sure your lines are visible, but aren’t so thick that there’s no room to color within them.
8.5″x11″ is the recommended trim size for coloring books. Anything smaller may be too hard to color (for more intricate artwork). This is especially true if your coloring book targets adults. Children’s coloring books could get away with being 6″x 9″ since that would aid in portability and children typically have better eyesight. Sizes larger than 8.5″x11″ may be harder to manage.
When making your selection regarding trim size and binding, be sure that your choice is compatible with your chosen printer (see below).
How Do You Format a Coloring Book?
Each image should be bordered by at least 0.25″ margins. If there’s a perforation line for customers to tear out pictures and frame them, then extra space will be needed on the side where the spine is to keep the margins equal once the page is torn out.
We recommend that your coloring book has one image per page, preferably on the right hand side. This will make images easier to frame, and it will help keep them cleaner and easier to color.
If your coloring book has any text inside, this will need special attention. There are a myriad of decisions that will need to be made to get the text just right, including selecting a typeface that will suit the book’s themes. It could help your coloring book to stand out if there are captions for the images or a story or poem that goes with them. In the end, people are primarily buying it to color, however, and adding text will complicate the process.
What Paper Should You Use?
There are a range of paper options available, though not all printers/distributors have the same selection.
For coloring books, we recommend using thicker, white paper to prevent most colors from being muted and keep the medium from bleeding through. It will also make the coloring book feel more professional. Thicker paper will cost more in printing, but it can be a good selling point if you advertise your work can support both wet and dry mediums.
What About Your Cover?
Your cover art could consist of a selection from one of your coloring book pages. Be sure to include a fitting title for your book, followed by your name. Take care that the typeface used for your text suits your theme. The text and font color should stand out from the background. As for the back cover, you can share information about your book and yourself. We discuss back cover elements and how they work together in this previous blog post.
How to Publish a Coloring Book
So, you’ve created a coloring book. Congrats! Now it’s time to publish it . . .
How Should You Price a Coloring Book?
How much you charge will depend on how much profit you want to make. If you want to break even and make a profit on top of that, you’ll need to pay close attention to the cost of printing and distributing your books, as well as storing them should you not choose print-on-demand (see below). At the same time, you’ll want to keep your prices somewhat in range of your competitors.
Do You Need an ISBN?
You will need an ISBN for your book. In the US, the only place to purchase ISBNs is at Bowker. Learn more about ISBNs with this blog post.
How Do You Print a Coloring Book?
This depends on where you want your book to be sold, what format(s) you’d like it to be available in, etc. Some people create digital coloring books that can be downloaded online and colored in using digital art programs or printed out to color in traditionally. Other people prefer to provide a physical coloring book that can appear in brick-and-mortar stores.
If you’d like print versions of your book (and most authors do), you’ll have to decide whether you’d like to utilize print on demand (POD) or another method. POD is usually favored, especially for those who don’t have the space for a large inventory of books. With POD, your books won’t be printed until a customer makes a purchase. As mentioned above, however, make sure your page count, trim size, and binding are supported by your printing selection.
You can print coloring books through services such as IngramSpark and Amazon KDP. In fact, these are the only two distributors who will print your book on-demand and distribute it to online and physical retailers. Authors can deal directly with these companies to maximize their royalties, and for our clients, we offer assistance setting up files there without taking a penny of your earnings.
How to Market a Coloring Book
Once your coloring book is published, you’ll still have a lot of work ahead of you to market it. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, and many authors find it helpful to work out a marketing strategy ahead of the publication date. In fact, it’s a good idea to share about your upcoming publication as much as possible on social media, in art groups, and in other ways so that more people are aware of it when it finally goes live.
For more detailed information about how to market books, check out our posts, “How to Effectively Market Your Book” and “How to Promote Your Book for Free.” Or, if you’d like to learn more about how to market your specific book, feel free to reach out to us. We offer several book marketing plans to be tailored to your specific needs. All of our plans come with coaching, but we also offer author coaching a la carte to those who aren’t ready to fully commit to any of our plans.