Hello, all! Kimberly here from Jera Publishing. Today your self-publishing short is on a big mistake made by authors of illustrated books. When a self-publishing author comes to us for the design of their interior book layout and mentions they have illustrations, I always cringe a little. Why? Because most of the time, they have already made a big mistake with those illustrations that is not easy to fix: the size.

Often, when an author decides they want to do a book with illustrations, they get the illustrations done before they even know what size their book is going to be. Without knowing the needed dimensions, the illustrator draws them to a default size, normally 8.5 x 11. Once the illustrations are done, the author comes to us to have the book layout done and says, “I want a 6 x 9 book with the illustrations filling the entire page,” and then hands us illustrations set to 8.5 x 11 with no bleeds. Oops. That ain’t gonna happen. Suddenly, their vision for the book has to be modified and compromises have to be made. While we can find an alternative solution and make it work (cropping the images, not doing a full bleed, etc.), the design always could have been better if the illustrations had been set up correctly to begin with.

So, before you rush out and have those illustrations done for your book, take a step back and determine the following first:

  1. What size will your finished book be set to? Don’t just make up a size! Make sure the printer you will be using offers the size you want to use.
  2. Do you want the illustrations to fill the entire page? If so, your illustrator will need to create the illustrations at a larger size than the actual book size. You also need to make sure that there are no important elements in the parts that will be cut off or that are near the edges of the pages as they may be trimmed or go into the bind.
  3. Do you want any images to be a full spread across two pages? Make sure those are set to the proper size, including the bleed, and that no important elements are near the center of the spread as they can be lost in the bind.
  4. If you do not want the images going to the edges of the pages, how large do you want them in the book? Be sure to also consider the inner book margins when determining the size.

Also, while not related to the size, if you want text to be placed on top of the illustrations, like in a children’s book, make sure enough neutral space is included in those illustrations for the text.

Are you self-publishing a children’s illustrated book? You will also want to read our blog article “Children’s Illustrated Books Are Possible with Print-On-Demand.”

Kimberly Martin

Kimberly Martin

Self-publishing specialist with over 15 years of experience, speaker, and coach. In my spare time, I can be found reading, hiking, taking photographs, riding my motorcycle, spoiling my three rescue cats, and decorating the Jera office with my collection of vintage typewriters.
Kimberly Martin
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