For a long time picture book authors and creatives have been limited to either vanity publishing, the traditional publishing route or they were left to battle through the numerous formatting issues that was presented to them with self-publishing images and text electronically. With the arrival of Amazon’s Kids’ Book Creator in September 2014, Picture Book Creators can enjoy more freedom when publishing their books in digital form.
I am happy to report that unlike most new self-publishing programs there seemed to be little teething issues with this spanking new opportunity. I have compiled a basic ‘how to’ article that will show you how easy this program is to use.
There are some things that are handy to have ironed out before beginning to create your digital children’s picture book. I would advise getting organised. Not easy for any writer but tidy document files that are clearly named and ordered in the correct folders will make your life easier. With that in mind, you should draw out a quick sketch or mock up of your book, labeling pages and deciding what goes on a left facing page and what on a right.
When you are arranging your document/image files, for best picture quality ensure that all of your images, or pages if you are adding text to the images, are at least 300dpi and that the page size is consistent throughout.
Amazon Kids’ Book Creator does not recommend a page width or height but I planned to publish on CreateSpace too and to save some hair pulling when I eventually got round to doing that, I decided to make the page size the same as I would need for CreateSpace. All the files I used were saved to: 8.63 (Width) by 8.75 (Height) 400dpi. I saved them as JPEG files, but you can also save them as: .tiff, png or pdf.
If you plan to have the illustrations on one page and text on the facing page, mark up what order the pages are to come in then rename each page in order as a separate file on your computer. For example ‘Page_1_Left_Facing’. Or you can add text to your images which would mean you don’t need to worry about which is a left facing page and which is a right. That is what I chose to do.
To get started on your picture book, create a new and empty folder to store your files, you will need this later. I have called mine ‘New Folder for Kid’s Book’.
- Go to Amazon website and download the Kids’ Book Creator program from Amazon’s Website for Free:
- Open the program and select ‘Create a new Kid’s Book’.
- A screen taking you through instructions on how to use the program will appear. Once you have read through it, click ‘Continue’.
- Fill in details of your book: title, author name, publisher (optional), language then browse your computer for the new and empty folder that you created earlier. Click ‘Continue’.
- Select whether you’d like a landscape or portrait orientation. This might be influenced by whether you have your text on a separate page to your illustrations. I chose portrait, which again made the process easier as I did not need to worry about ordering left and right facing pages. Once you’ve made your selection, click ‘Continue’.
- You then have the choice to upload your book in its entirety as a pdf (if you already have one prepared) or you can select to upload it page by page. Uploading page by page is easy and allows you to correct any page order mistakes as you go. Once you select the ‘page by page’ option you can upload your cover image immediately. Then the fun starts. Click ‘Start Adding Pages’.
- You are now in the main program where you can build your book. Hopefully you have all your page files saved individually, including dedication pages and copyright pages, together with back matter (that is information that you may want to relay to the reader about you or your illustrator). To begin, click ‘Add Pages’.
- Select your first page from your files.Your page should fill the display view box. Ensure that the page is highlighted blue (on the left of your screen) before adding next page so that they display in the correct order
- Continue adding your pages until you have uploaded all. Then from the main menu, under ‘Book Preview’ select ‘Create Book Preview’.
- After a few moments, amazon’s Kids’ Book Creator will upload your new picture book onto a kindle previewer. This will allow you to check through your book and the different kindle devices and locate any problems that you may want to correct.
- Once you are happy with the preview, go to ‘File’ then ‘Save for Publishing’. The computer will select the empty file that you created earlier. Once you’ve saved, you now have files on your computer that contain your completed picture book.
- To sell your picture book through Amazon, you need to create a ‘publisher’s account’ with them. Go to ‘Independently Publish with Us’ at the bottom of their web page and follow the instructions. When you are ready to upload your picture book for sale, you can upload the files you created with Amazon’s Kids’ Book Creator. You are now only a few clicks away from being a published picture book author!
Personally I have found this program very easy to use and hugely liberating. It side steps a lot of the difficulty with formatting images for electronic devices without creating new problems. The program also provides you with a pop-up feature, where you can select or highlight certain text in your book that enlarges when the reader clicks on it. This is an added benefit for any readers that are enjoying your picture book on a small device such as a phone.
This video tutorial takes you through the steps detailed above:
Happy Publishing Folks!(c) Olivia Kiernan