The process of self-publishing an illustrated book is a bit more complex than a text-based one, but still do-able. I recommend, and have published via Kindle Publishing Direct (KDP) for paperback and Ingram Spark (IS) for hard cover and paperback extended distribution. I’ll outline the processes for both. You do need to sign up for an Ingram Spark account before you format the book for them as they will email you the template files. KDP has their files readily available, although I’ve had good luck using the same interior file for both. Accounts are free for both printers.

This assumes that you have your text completed and edited, and that you have your illustrations. You can find a list of illustrators here if you need one.

Pick a Size

You will first need to determine the size of your book which is the “trim size”. KDP’s sizes are in the chart below. The minimum number of pages is 24 for any and all of their books. Ingram Spark has similar options, those can be found here. Currently, KDP does not do hard cover books so IS is the printer to choose for those.

paper back trim size createspace

I’ve used 8×10 as both companies offer that size. My art book is done in the same way as it’s image dense. It is 8.5×8.5 which KDP does offer, although it’s not on the above chart. IS does offer paperback copies as well so check into the cost differences as well as the pages required. Each version of your book requires it’s own ISBN number. Ebooks do not, but a paperback is a different version than hardback. You use the same ISBN for KDP and IS for the paperback version.

The trim size is the finished size of the book. When you are formatting the book, you need to include the bleed and margins that’s required based on the trim size and number of pages. Both KDP and IS have information on their sites for those. This is a sample table for KDP:

The bleed is typically .125″ on each side, other than the interior or gutter.

Format Your Book

The best format to upload is a PDF, and the only program that I know of that will enable you to arrange your text and images on the page is InDesign. You can either purchase a short term subscription, an annual subscription, or hire someone who has it to format your book for you. (This is one service that I offer, feel free to contact me for more information.) Your cover is uploaded as a separate file, also a PDF. Both companies have templates that you can use to ensure your book cover is exactly the size it needs to be.

All the images in your file need to be at least 300 dpi/ppi. Incidentally, this includes black and white line drawings in text based books as well. If you are creating your images in an analog format (painting, drawing, etc.) and scanning or photographing them to get them into the digital realm, then do keep the 300 dpi minimum and your page size in mind. All of my books were created as paintings and drawings and then combined digitally.

Depending on what you’re doing with your text, you can then add the text into your image digitally. Do make sure that any font you use is free for commercial use or you have purchased the appropriate license to use for commercial use. This is also true of any images you use in your artwork. Once you enter the commercial realm, legalities get more strict and complex.

Copyright Considerations

If you are illustrating your own book, then you will hold the copyrights for both the text and the illustrations. If, like I did, you are illustrating someone else’s book, then you hold the copyright for the illustrations by default. Essentially, you are then licensing those images to the author to use for their book. You can work this out with the author however you choose. Some choose to split the royalties, some artists do a per illustration fee, some do some kind of combination. Fees generally increase with size, complexity, and skill of the artist, as well as experience.

For more information on legal considerations of  artwork, you can read that article on this site here. I would highly encourage you not to sign away your rights to your work!

Any other questions? Contact me and I’ll answer what I can.