What Should I Ask or Know Before I Start Self-Publishing a Kids' Book?
Before you proceed with digital publishing for a children's book, you need to consider first what platforms (retailers) you intend to sell upon; then, you need to decide whether you're going to publish that kids' book as a "fixed format" book or a regular, reflowable ePUB and MOBI title. There are important considerations for both options. The first thing to know is that if you want to create a "fixed-format" book for your illustrated children's book, each retailer that allows this type of book (Amazon, Kobo, Nook and iBooks) has its own unique format. You can't, in other words, make an ePUB for iBooks that also works on Kobo or Nook. If you wanted to make a fixed format book (illustrated children's book) available for all four of these retailers, we or your conversion company have to make four separate book files.
"Fixed fomat" books are ebooks that can display two-page spreads, or pages of illustrations that have text on top of the illustrations. Below are two examples of fixed-format books. One is from "The Big Galoot," by Shadoe Stevens, on the iBooks application (Apple); the lovely pen-and-ink "Fox and the Fawn" is shown on a Kindle Fire device, with pop-up text boxes (also called, "region magnification," but "pop-up text" just sounds cooler!)
Now, the upside is that these books will look exactly, or "as exactly as possible" like the original print layout. The downside is that they a) are extremely expensive, and, b) are limited to use on the platform for which they are created. For more pricing information, please see our Fixed-Format eBook Pricing page. For more samples of ebooks for children that we've converted, please see visit the Kids Book Showcase.
What's The Downside?
What this means is that if you have a company make a Kindle Fixed-format Kids' book, it can't be read on any other e-reading device. An Apple Fixed-format book for iBooks can't be read on a Nook. And a Nook Fixed-Format book can't be read on anything but a NookColor tablet, in the special NookKids' platform. An Amazon MOBI made this way only works on those devices that have "K8" formatting--basically, the Kindle Fire Tablet and certain Droid Tablets.
And, warning: to publish a NookKids' book, you have to be approved as a NookKids' publisher, by Barnes & Noble, or use an Aggregator/Distributor that is already approved.
We at Booknook.biz have extensive experience in making these types of Kids' books in fixed-format, including books with embedded video, audio, and even animation, the latter on the iBooks platform only (and to a lesser extent, the NookKids' platform); audio is only available to self-publishers for iBooks and Nook at this time.
Are There Alternatives?
An alternative to this approach, if you have simple images with text on opposing pages, is to create a reflowable ePUB and MOBI format (please see our basic formats article here on the Knowledgebase: What Are the Main eBook Formats? if you don't know which formats work on which devices). While this can mean that images and text may become separated while someone is reading the book, it is significantly less expensive and has the added advantage of portability. An ePUB made this way, in other words, works for iBooks, Nook, Sony, and virtually every other ePUB-reading device. A MOBI file made this way will work on all Amazon devices. Two examples of books made as reflowable ePUBs or MOBI's are shown below; "Sharon and Eleanor's Escape" by Connie Pontius (Geese image) and "Emerald Green Runner" by Andrew Kay and Romy Dingle (on iBooks, with a tree in the image).
One thing to bear in mind is: if you've made a very, very large children's book, the final product will most likely be seen on a traditional e-reader screen, which is 4¾" long and 3½ wide (held in landscape mode). If you've made a book that needs to be read in "spreads" (text on the left page, for example, and image on the right) that's 22" wide in total, it's going to be very difficult to fit this into a 4¾" space. If you are designing your children's book now, keep the dimensions at the front of your mind; because no matter how geeky we are, even we can't fit 20lbs. of flour into a 5lb. sack!
Whichever way you decide to go, we can help you.