A big part of publishing a children’s book is printing. Depending on how you decide to publish, your printing options will look quite different. In this blog, we’ll go over the top three printing options for children’s books and which publishing route will get you there.
Top 3 Printing Options for Children’s Books
Printing Options for Traditionally-Published Books
Traditional publishing is when an author either sells their story to a publisher or makes royalties off of a book they’ve submitted to a traditional publishing company. In traditional publishing, the publishing company fronts most of the costs and decisions, including printing.
If you decide to traditionally publish your children’s book, you won’t have any say over how your book is printed. The publisher will print your book how they see fit, and they get the final say.
Traditional publishing includes no printing options for children’s books. At least, not for the authors to decide.
Printing Options for Self-Published and Hybrid-Published Books
If you decide to self-publish your book, you’ll have complete control over how your book gets printed. Every decision is yours, meaning the options are endless.
If you decide to hybrid publish, the printing options for children’s books truly depends on the company you partner with. Since every hybrid publisher operates differently, you’ll need to check with your publisher to see who makes the final call on printing.
To learn more about the different types of publishing, read Types of Publishing: Traditional, Self, and Hybrid.
If your hybrid publisher allows you to decide how you want to print (like I do for the authors in Publishing Mastermind), then your options are pretty much the same as any self-publishing author.
Option #1: Outsourcing to a Printing Company
The first of three printing options for children’s books is hiring a printer. If you like having the highest-quality print and don’t mind investing up front, this could be a great option for you.
Outsourcing to a printing company means you
- do research
- find a company that prints books as a service
- pay them to print your book how you’d like it
Oftentimes, working with a printer gives you the freedom to choose how your book is bound, what kind of paper they use and its finish, and whether your book will be in hardcover, paperback or both.
While working with a printer can be an exceptional option, there are two things you need to know first.
- You’ll have to pay for a select number of copies up front. Since printing can be expensive, this can be a big investment. Yes, you get top-quality printing, but you’ll also be the one paying for it.
- You have to store all of your books. Once your books are printed and arrive at your door, it’s up to you to store them appropriately until they sell.
If you don’t mind the upfront cost and have the space in your garage to hold thousands of books, then outsourcing to a printing company is an incredible option which will deliver high quality.
Organize your manuscript in a 32 Page Picture Book Template.
Option #2: Print-on-Demand
Print-on-demand is when an author submits their book files to a printer who will then only print books as they’re ordered. Instead of printing one large sum of books all at once, print-on-demand companies will only print your book once they see orders coming in.
Instead of paying an upfront cost like option #1, print-on-demand will often only require you to pay as books get printed.
This means that, if you sell no books, you’re not losing any money on printing. But as you do sell your books, you’ll have to pay for the books as they’re being printed.
This also means you won’t have to store the books anywhere. Since they’ll only be printed as needed, you won’t be burdened with boxes of books crowding your garage. It’s an efficient and cost-effective option.
Fortunately, lots of print-on-demand companies offer great quality prints as well. However, the print quality isn’t as top-notch as you’ll get in a typical printing company. If you’re willing to do the research and trust a reputable company with your book, this could be a great option for you.
While this is the second of three printing options for children’s books, it’s important to note that there’s still variability to consider with print-on-demand.
For example, some companies such as KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing through Amazon) only offer print-on-demand for children’s books in softcover. Meanwhile companies such as IngramSpark offer print-on-demand for hardcover children’s books.
Print-on-demand is a great option, but you’ll want to do your homework and make sure you’re signing with a reputable company that meets your needs.
Option #3: Ebooks
An ebook is an electronic book that can be downloaded onto a device such as a phone, tablet, laptop or computer.
Though ebooks don’t often come to mind when authors think of their printing options, I’d say it still technically counts. Yes, your book is not physically printed when you produce an ebook. But your reader can still access your story all the same.
The reason I’ve included ebooks as the third of three printing options for children’s books is because it’s the most cost and space efficient way to print your book.
Developing an ebook is often no additional cost to the author, since your book designer should already do this for you. You also won’t have to store any books because your book will be available digitally.
Finally, anyone who buys an ebook from you will receive it instantly. Since it’s a digital download, there’s no printing time, shipping time, or unexpected results.
However, ebooks aren’t the go-to for picture books. Typically, they receive less sales compared to physical copies, and parents are hesitant to encourage screen time. Though the ebook is the cheapest option with the quickest turnaround time, it’s not always the best choice.
But if you’re looking to save as much as possible and don’t mind not having access to physical copies of your book, then ebooks are a great option for you.
Combining the Printing Options for Children’s Books
You should know that you aren’t limited to just one of these three printing options for children’s books. If you want, you could outsource to a printing company for hardcover books, sign up for print-on-demand for your paperback books, and sell ebooks as well.
Organize your manuscript in a 32 Page Picture Book Template.
When I published the first edition of I CAN Believe in Myself, I combined outsourcing to a printing company and ebooks to promote my book. Though it took time and effort, I went on to sell ALL the physical copies of my book, freeing up lots of space in my garage!
Just know that once you print your books, you need to market. You can read more about marketing your children’s book on my blog about Amazon Bestseller Status: What is it?