Saturday, July 1, 2017

Had a Children’s Book Ghostwritten - Now What?

With a steady stream of ghosting clients, I am often asked what comes after the manuscript is written and edited.

Well, this depends on which publishing road you’ll be taking: self-publishing or traditional publishing.

Since the majority of my clients go the self-pubbing route, I’ll start there.

Self-Publishing a Children’s Picture Book

Some basic pages and copy in addition to the story.

1. You’ll need back cover copy. This is a brief synopsis of the story, usually 100-200 words. It needs to be ‘grabbing’ and ‘clear.’

2. It’s a good idea to have an About the Author or Author’s Note page at the end of the story. It’s definitely optional though.

3. A Copyright page – you can include acknowledgements on this page.

4. A Dedication / Acknowledgment page is a thought.

5. Some authors want a Preface page, but in most cases this isn’t necessary.

6. If you have words that may need to be defined for the young reader, you might include a Glossary right after the story. Most authors don’t bother with this.

7. Then there’s the Activity Page and Reading Comprehension Page. If you’re hoping to get your book into the classroom, this is a must.

Unless you’re creating your own pages, these items will usually be an additional fee.



If you have a children’s picture book you’ll need to get illustrations done. This can be done one of two ways: 32 illustrations (one per page) or one illustration per spread (16 illustrations). This is based on a standard 32 page picture book.

Keep in mind that a full spread illustration (two pages - left and right sides) is usually considered two pages of illustrations.


The book cover is a BIGGIE. The cover is one of the most influential elements to motivate someone to pick up your book. You want it done right. Covers are more money than interior spreads.

You might also want to go for a small back cover illustration. This isn’t really necessary though. You can simply have a colored back cover with your synopsis on it. Possibly include an image of yourself (the author).

Pricing for illustrations vary. I recommend two illustrators to my clients: one charges $50-$60 per interior illustration and the other charges around $75-$100. There are others who charge $150 and up per interior illustration.

On the flip side, you can probably get illustrations cheaper through various services / illustrators. Just be sure the one you choose is capable of creating quality illustrations.

Again, cover illustrations are more.

Here are a three places you can look for illustrators:

You can also do a Google search.

So, you can see that self-publishing a children’s picture book can get pretty expensive.

Hot Tip: Unless you’re a professional illustrator, or really, really, really good, don’t attempt to do your own illustrations.

Checking the Illustrations and Illustrations to Text

Unless you hire someone to oversee this process, you will need to make sure there are no errors in the illustrations.

For the first part, you need to carefully review each illustration, including the cover and back cover (if you have an image on the back cover).

It can be something as simple as part of a foot missing, or a picture described in the story conveyed wrong in the illustration. These, among many others, were mistakes I found for one of my clients who hired me to oversee this process for him.

It can even be consistency, maybe how the characters look throughout the story or even the background scenery. In one project, the illustrator had molding in some illustrations and none in others where is should have been.

You’ll have to have a keen eye for this stuff, but getting it right is the difference between a good quality product and a poor quality product.

For the illustrations to text review, it’s the same. You want to make sure the illustration fits the text per spread. Most illustrators get this right, but I’ve come across a few who do make mistakes.

This is your book. You want it to be the best it can be. This means getting all the details right.

Time Frame

Having the book ghostwritten and illustrated can take around 3 months, possibly longer.

The Story

Using myself as an example, I usually take two-four weeks to write a children’s picture book manuscript of 800 – 3000 words (depends on what my clients want). I do mention in my freelance agreement that it can take up to six weeks.

It’s important to know that if you’re self-publishing your word count can be around 1000 words. If you’re going the traditional route, it’s a good idea to stay under 800 words.

Another factor in the time it takes to write the story is the time it takes the client to respond to questions and approvals of content. If a client takes more than a couple of days to respond to emails, the time frame will be thrown off.

The Illustrations

Getting the interior and exterior illustrations done can take one-two months, sometimes more. It will depend on the illustrator you use and his/her workload.

Getting the Book Published (ready for distribution / sale)

Depending on your budget, you can hire someone from a site like to format and upload your book onto Kindle and/or other publishing venues.

Or, you can hire a service, like CreateSpace, Dog Ear Publishing, Golden Box Books, and Publishing Push to do it for you. This route will cost more money, but you’ll have all your “Is” dotted and “Ts” crossed.

For a great resource on publishing ebooks, check out:

Self-Publishing a Chapter or Simple Middle Grade Book

If you have a chapter or simple middle grade book ghosted, you’ll only need illustrations for each chapter. And, they can be simple grey tone sketches.

While it’s not an absolute must to have illustrations for these books, it does help with engagement for the young reader.

The Traditional Road

The traditional route will cost much less. All you’ll be paying for is the ghostwriter. You won’t need illustrations.

While it will cost less, it will certainly take a lot longer.

You’ll have to submit your manuscript to publishers and/or literary agents to hopefully get a contract. You’ll need a query letter for this. And, having a synopsis of the story is another must.

When and if a contract happens, it takes an average of two years before your book is actually published. So, patience will be needed.

And, be prepared for the publisher’s editor to go over your story and possibly request changes. This is just part of the process. Be open to suggestions.

I recommend you get the most recent edition of “Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market” by Writer’s Digest Books. This book provides information on publishers and agents in the children’s writing arena. These are the people you’ll be submitting your manuscript to.

I also recommend reading:

Children's Writing and Publishing - The Traditional Path

The Author Website

Before you publish your book, you absolutely need an author website. Publishers and agents will expect this. And, if you’re self-publishing it’s even more important.

According to Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest, in his book “Create Your Writer Platform,” an author’s platform (its visibility, connections, and reach) is a key factor when looking for a publisher or agent.

Take note that this is not after a book is published; it’s when the author is looking for a contract. Your platform begins with a website.

Summing it Up

So, there you have it, a basic run-down of what to expect and what you’ll need to do to get your manuscript published.

About the Author

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning author and children's ghostwriter. You can learn more about her at


Let Karen take a look at it. She's a working children’s ghostwriter and rewriter. She can turn your story into a publishable book that you'll be proud to be author of. Send her an email at: kcioffiventrice  @

Article originally published at:


One Last Edit? Rethink Before Submitting
5 Ways to Annoy an Editor
Writing the World Around You


Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

You should make this into a small book – – like a chapbook. Something that is always available for e-books. It is fantastic

Linda Wilson said...

I agree with Carolyn. This information is priceless and would be an excellent ebook to offer on your site. Thank you, I will use this information as I continue to work on my marketing plan.

Karen Cioffi said...

Carolyn, glad you though it is helpful. I think I may already have it as an ebook for subscribers to my children's site. I'll have to see. Maybe I'll offer it at Writers on the Move also! I hadn't thought of that. Thanks a bunch!

Karen Cioffi said...

Linda, glad you found it useful also! I was trying to help my clients, but it seems to be helpful beyond that. I'm using it as a lead-magnet for my children's site, but may expand its use!

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