Measure Twice, Cut Once (Part One)

Alright, I’ve got my idea. I need to start writing the first draft, begin the first few sketches of the artwork…

When I was growing up, I got roped into a lot of building project with my dad. Whether it was barns or hog gates, there was one universal rule: MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE.

Before we cut our teeth on our first story, we need to do some research and answer some questions.

Self-Published or Traditional Publication?

For the purpose of this project (equipping storytellers to tell stories from start-to-finish), we are going the self-published route. Wait! Don’t leave just yet if you had your heart set on traditional publication. We are going to create a self-published book that is also traditional publication friendly.*

Where to Get it Printed?

There are numerous options (KDP, IngramSpark, Ninja Printing, etc) but I am going to give my recommendation, based off of previous projects. I’ve had two books printed; one through KDP (Kindle Digital Publishing, formerly CreateSpace) and one through Blurb.

While both are viable options, I am going to recommend Blurb for the quality and ease of use. Depending on the type of artwork and length of story you produce, it might be more expensive, but it will make your first experience of taking a story from start-to-finish much more enjoyable.

Which Format?

While Blurb is definitely one of the easier sites to navigate, there are still a bunch of options to choose from. If you search “children’s book” on their site, they will point you to the photo book format. You’ll then see a bunch of options for sizes, paper quality, B/W or Color, hardcover, etc.

What you’ll soon discover as you wade through the options is that you will soon find your book costing anywhere from $15-22 per book (and that’s for only 20 pages). However, if you look at their Trade Book options, you’ll find that you can print a similar quality book (albeit slightly different sizes) for $5-10 per book.

Now, you might have NO desire to sell your book. You might want to bring your story to life in a single, solitary volume. If that’s you, then choose whichever format does that best. If, however, your goal is to at least print more than one copy to distribute, then Trade Books is your best bet.

Here are some examples from Blurb’s site:


For Lightbringer, I am going to do an 8x10 Softcover Trade Book in Standard Black & White. This works for the story I am telling (Light VS Dark), as well as making the production cost relatively low. The 8x10 format, while not ideal (I’d prefer 10x8 for the traditional children’s book look) is a small concession to make it easier to get the story into peoples’ hands.

How do I Set My Book Up?

This is another place where Blurb** is fantastic. They give you several flexible and easy-to-use options for setup.

  • Bookwright: This is Blurb’s proprietary software for book creation. Simply download to your Mac or PC, and choose your options for the format of your book. Bookwright does the rest, setting up the correct bleed, trim, and other print jargon that sounds scary.

  • Adobe InDesign Plug-In: This is for the advanced creative person with a background in graphic design or print publication. This plug-in allows you to get the InDesign file formatted and prepped for Blurb, but let you do all the design work in Adobe. This will be where I will format the text and drop in images for Lightbringer.

Whew! As boring and tedious as that all can be (and I even spared you the research of various publishing options, software options, etc), I promise it will make the process of getting your story printed so much easier!

In the next post, we’ll talk about standards in children’s book publication, and how we should strive to adhere to those standards, while also embracing some of the freedoms that come with self-publishing.

*While we can format our book to a universal print standard, and even stick to page count/word count, it is still up to a literary agent/publisher to take a chance on your story. So, while we are going to make a book that emulates all the best practices of traditional publishing, I can’t promise that doing that will ensure it gets published traditionally.

**I realize with my blatant endorsement of Blurb, some might think I have a vested interest in getting you to print your book through them. I want to make it clear that I am not endorsed by or receive compensation from Blurb for my endorsement; I only recommend them because I use them and believe them to be the best option for this type of project.