Practical Tips on How to Format a Softcover Children’s Book

Writing books for children is very rewarding. As a mum, I know how much fun it is to make up stories with my son, draw characters and scenes together, and come up with new adventures for them. Most of the time, we make up stories at bedtime but sometimes I write them down so that I don’t forget them. This is especially true for rhymes and songs. I either write them down in a notebook or open a Google Drive document and type them down. You know, something like this:

“Little foxy liked canoeing
But the mouse was really scared
Of big rivers full of water
So he never-ever dared.”

– a song about a little fox and a little mouse

Those types of “field notes” don’t need any special formatting – you just write them down for your own reference. But if you want to make your own children’s book with pictures, then you need to think about the book’s layout and how to format it correctly. Now, when you’re an author who has a contract with a publishing house, then all the formatting is taken care of. But if we’re talking about a DIY children’s book, then you need to pay attention to at least some formatting.

If you’re creating a children’s book with pictures using BookBildr, then you don’t have to worry about things like bleed and other technical stuff. What remains is to make sure you create all the necessary pages and your main book content won’t get printed somewhere where you don’t want it (say, on the inside of the cover) and your spreads will look just the way you wanted.

With BookBildr, you need to remember that your first page is always the front cover and the second page of your book design is always printed as the first available page on the left. There are some differences between softcovers and hardcovers, though. We’ll concentrate on softcovers in this post.

So, let’s have a look at how traditionally published software children’s books are formatted. I’ll tell you what to put where, too.

The Front Cover

The front cover is what makes that amazing first impression when you see a book. When you’re making a book with BookBildr, the first page in the editor tool is your front cover. Usually, the front cover has:

  • Your book’s title in big letters or a fancy font
  • A large illustration that communicates the essence of the story and makes the reader want to open the book and read it
  • The author’s name

Have a look at the covers of my son’s favourite softcovers, “Lost and Found” by Oliver Jeffers and “The Tiger Who Came to Tea” by Judith Kerr. They are great examples:

Softcover children's books

Now let’s talk about the inside of your softcover. With BookBildr, the second page you add in the editor will be printed on the inside of the cover. This only applies to our softcovers and is very important to remember when you’re writing your book. But, for traditionally published books, the inside of the cover will be white. This means that you’ll need to add a blank page as your second page in BookBildr to have that. Alternatively, you can add a fun background. Here’s what the inside covers of the two books look like:

Softcover inner covers

So, that’s the front cover. Now let’s move on to inner pages.

Inner Pages in a Children’s Picture Book

If you think that the story starts right there, on the first inner page of a softcover book, then you’re wrong. Most of the time, the first inner page will be either a random illustration or is left blank. Traditional publishers do that because they print stuff like copyright information and publishing data on the page after that. Most likely, you won’t need to put anything of the sort there, so you can put your book’s title and your name there. This will be the first right-hand page of the book, like in this book:

Softcover title page

The next page is great for a dedication if you want the story to start from the next right-hand page. If you want the story to start from the left-hand page, you can skip the dedication page, like in “Lost and Found”:

The rest of your inner pages are up to you – make as many or as few as you want but keep in mind that the minimum number of pages including covers is 16.

The Back Cover

When you have your inner pages, the only thing that’s left is the back cover. That’s the last page of your book. Make sure that your BookBildr book doesn’t end with the last page of your story because it will be painted on the back cover (we don’t create covers for you, neither can we detect that it’s not a cover page when we print). So, make sure that the last page you create is the actual back cover page.

Remember to keep an even total number of pages for your book because if your book has an odd number of pages, the back cover will be white, which can be disappointing. If you need an extra page to make an even number, add a blank page at the end of your book. Most of the time, the back cover has a smaller illustration and a bit about the author. Don’t forget the copyright information if you’re planning to sell your book.

Softcover back cover

Our “Credits” page will be printed on the inside of your softcover book’s back cover. At the moment, we’re legally required to add it but we’re exploring ways to offer books without it.

To Recap

That’s a lot of information but I hope this will help you to format a softcover children’s book in a beautiful way, just like a traditionally published one. I hope you were taking notes (joking) but if you haven’t here is a printable checklist for formatting your softcover with BookBildr. Happy writing!

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