Kayla Hicks - Author Kayla Hicks - Author

3 Important Factors in Publishing a Children’s Book

5 min read

Children’s picture book authors need to consider word counts, page counts, and the purpose of their illustrations before publishing

The literary realm of children’s picture books is actually more complicated than you think.

Children use picture books from birth until ages 8–9 years old. Pulled in by not only the story but gazing at the illustrations as they listen along. Many times they re-read the same books until they know them by heart.

However, not many people know how other factors such as word count, page count, and the purpose of their illustrations affect the world of picture books.

Why do children’s picture books have word counts?

The publishing industry establishes word count standards for children’s books based on age groups, and there’s a good reason for this.

These word counts are carefully set to match the attention spans of young readers. For instance, a one-year-old child wouldn’t be able to sit through a 500-word book and remain calm because their attention span simply isn’t long enough yet.

Here is a breakdown of the word counts by age:

Board book- Age 0–3 / Word Count: 0–100

Picture book- Age 3–8 / Word Count 250–1,000

Early Reader- Age 5–9 / Word Count 1,500- 2,000

Now, many websites you will come across will have variations of these numbers, but these seem to be the average word counts that everyone can agree on.

Why do page counts matter?

The industry standard for picture book page counts for ages 3–8 is 32 pages long.

The reason for this is that 32 pages can be printed on one sheet of paper at the printing company making it more cost effective. In reality, authors can make their books as many or as few pages as they’d like, but when the page count falls out of the standard 32 pages, it will cost more to print.

However, if you feel as if you cannot conform to 32 pages, you have the option of making your book: 16, 24, 40. or 48.

There is a pattern here of a number increase of 8 between these page counts. That is because it all revolves back to printability with sheets of paper, meaning, being able to be printed in even 8 sections on the printing paper. And if you step outside of these specified printing standards, you run the risk of blank pages being added to your book upon printing.

For more information on formatting picture books, see How Authors of Picture Books Format for Self-Publishing.

Why do illustrations matter?

Young readers are naturally drawn to color and imagery in the early stages of reading.

Illustrations play a crucial role in guiding them by providing visual cues that enhance their understanding of the story. These images help bridge the gap between the text and the reader’s imagination, making the narrative more engaging and accessible. Moreover, illustrations do more than just compliment the story; they are instrumental in capturing and maintaining the attention of young readers.

Illustrations can be used to:

  • Add more variation throughout the book by adding color and whimsy to a text page if the book orientation is an illustration on one page and text on the other

  • Used to show a story sequence of events

  • Used to reveal context clues to the reader before another event in the story unfolds

  • Provide a clear visual to provide the young reader a clearer understanding of the story

For more on illustrations, see What I’ve learned about becoming an author-illustrator in the realm of children’s picture books.

When publishing a children’s picture book, you are creating a stepping stone for a young reader’s journey to loving books.

But in doing so, there are some factors to consider:

  • Word count for your target audience’s age so they can truly appreciate your story

  • The stories page count factors into making the book affordable

  • Illustrations that serve more than the simple purpose of giving them something to look at

If you want to learn more about publishing children’s picture books, see:

A Journey to Publishing My Own Children’s Picture Book

Style Choices Authors Should Know About Children’s Picture Books