From Layout to Proof Copy: Designing and Editing my Children’s Book

If you read my last post, you will remember that I talked about how to organize ideas in a mind map. Once I organized my ideas, I started the actual writing of my book.

Today I am going to explain how I designed and edited my kids book with lots of help from my mom.

After getting my story and illustrations done, it was time to lay out my book. My mom did all the technical design stuff in an app called Swift Publisher. She can jump in and explain more about that:

Swift Publisher (as explained by my mom)

Hi There! I’ll try my best to keep this simple. The goal was to be able to upload Hope’s book interior file and a cover file to our choice of on-demand printer. In order to pass the criteria for printing we needed a high quality PDF to upload.

We had to choose an application in which we could format all of the book on the computer. This gave us full control to work within an app that felt comfortable, or in my case, was one I had to learn… and still am learning, I might add.

First, I found out what the size requirements were from the printer so that I could create a custom document for the size of the book, allowing for full bleed of the illustrations. Hope’s book has many illustrations that will extend to all edges of the page, which means those images will “bleed” off the edge into the wider margins. We had to be mindful of what ended up in the margins because that is where the paper would be cut during the printing and binding process. Thankfully, when we upload our document to the printer’s website, an error alert will pop up if any text is lying outside of the safe zone. Along with calculating how wide the outer margins had to be, I also had to allow for wider “gutter” margins. The gutter is the area where the pages are bound together. You may have noticed when you read a book, sometimes you have to press the binding a little flatter to get a better read. Working in Swift Publisher allowed me to create a page layout that mimicked the look of a book. I could customize my margins to allow for extra space in the gutter. Of course, the more pages a book has, the more room you have to allow for in your gutter margin.

After getting the nitty gritty measurement of the document situated, we could move on the the fun part. Since Hope made all her illustrations on her iPad using Procreate, she had to export those images as JPGs to be used in the book layout. We spent many hours together at my iMac screen designing the layout of each page. In some cases where the illustration was a full page, I had to first add the text using another app called Affinity Designer before exporting and bringing that image into Swift Publisher. We had a lot of fun breaking her story down into the chunks that went with each illustration.

Once the book started to take shape and we could see it all coming together, Hope decided she wanted to do some extra two-page spreads for her interior title pages and the copyright/dedication/table of contents page. I think this added a fun touch to the beginning of her book and gave it a more polished look overall.

That’s all this mom has to say for now on how we went about designing Hope’s book. Thanks for letting me explain. I’ll turn things back to Hope…

Reading on screen

Now that the book was all laid out in Swift Publisher, it was time to read through it.

We were editing it for many months, reading it over and over and over again. Every time we read though, we would see or hear things, even the tiniest little details, that would need changing. Let me tell you, it took awhile to do this!

Proof copy

After I felt satisfied with the overall book, we ordered my first proof copy. A proof copy is a copy of the book that can’t be resold. Its purpose is to ensure everything looks top notch when you see it in print.

One morning the proof copy arrived while I was working on an art project with my brother. My mom came downstairs holding a box. She handed it over to me, and I opened it to find my beautiful proof copy. It was exciting to see how all my hard work had finally paid off. It felt so cool to be holding my creation in my hands and to flip through to see all of my illustrations… in a REAL BOOK!

But it didn’t end there… oh no! Little did I know, the editing process goes way past ordering the proof copy! In my next post I’ll share about how my beautiful proof copy wasn’t as perfect as I first thought it was. I hope you’ll join me!

Read my previous posts if you want to catch up on the whole story!

  1. How to Turn a Big Idea into Reality: Choose the Right Tools
  2. How to Turn a Big Idea into Reality: Set Clear Goals and Get to Work
  3. How to Turn a Big Idea into Reality: Organize All Those Thoughts

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