Publishing I (Self Publishing Children's Books)

Learn how books for children and young people are published. This course is for people in self publishing or employment in children's publishing. Read more.

Course Code: BWR107
Fee Code: S3
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Learn to Publish Children's Literature

Publishing for children and young people involves the creation, compilation, and mass reproduction of text and graphic images. 
Publishing is a fast-moving business.

The self-publishing industry has created new opportunities for small, debut authors and publishers.

  • Learn about the role of the publisher in children and young people's books. 
  • Become a self-publishing author.
  • Wrote a book? Get your manuscript published. 
  • Design to distribution - publishers do it all. 
  • Focus on publishing processes and industry standards with specialist skills in children and young adult books, and self-publishing. 

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. The Publishing World (Writing for Children)
    • Children’s book genres
    • Self-publishing and the educational market
    • Developmental landmarks and their relationship to children’s publishing
    • Reading level assessments and their relationship to children’s publishing
  2. Publishing Procedures and Techniques
    • Stages of traditional publishing
    • Steps to finalising a manuscript
    • Types of editing
    • Illustrations and working with external illustrators
    • Page design
    • Picture book design
    • Typography
  3. Desktop Publishing (Print Versions of Children's Books)
    • Defining desktop publishing
    • Layout and design for different book types: board books, picture books, chapter books and novels
    • Use of colour
    • Test runs for printing
    • Creating a dummy version of an illustrated text
  4. Desktop Publishing
    • Defining e-publishing
    • Apps vs ebooks
    • Layout of Illustrated eBooks or Text-based ebooks
    • Working with audiobooks
    • Audiobooks for children
    • Accessibility and ebooks
    • Ebook file types
  5. Illustration 1: Introduction to Graphics in Children's Fiction
    • The purpose of illustrations and graphics
    • Selecting a graphic or illustration design style
    • Types of books with graphics
    • Formatting textual elements
    • Working with a designer or illustrator: Preparing a brief and keeping the contract clear
    • Graphics and marketing
  6. Illustration 2: Introduction to Photography in Children's Books
    • Working with photographs: Non-fiction, fiction and covers
    • What makes a good photo
    • Designing with photos
    • Principles of photographic composition
    • Creating effects
  7. Researching Material for Children’s & Young Adult’s Books
    • Researching for fiction: world building and time period, and gathering resources
    • Types of non-fiction texts for children and young adults
    • How to plan research
    • How to note take effectively
    • Author notes
  8. Marketing in Publishing (Children's Books)
    • Book distributors
    • Marketing toward retailers
    • Theme marketing and special sales
    • Website and author platforms
    • Marketing toward the consumer: Reviews and interviews, book launches and talks, lectures, and readings
  9. Publishing: Ethics & The Law
    • Ethics and content creation
    • Sensitivity, cultural, and linguistic diversity
    • Content and ratings advisories
    • Plagiarism
    • Censorship and book banning
    • Copyright: Copyright notices, what does copyright protect and when a work can be legally used
    • Codes of ethics
  10. Publishing Project (PBL)
    • Plan the publication of a children’s book
    • Answer set discussion questions
    • Present a final report

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Outline the characteristics of children’s books and explain the relevance of traditional children’s publishing conventions for self-publishers.
  • Describe stages of the publishing process and indicate where self-publishing can be advantageous to authors.
  • Explain best practices for working with layout and design in print picture books. Discuss ways print layout can affect market potential for picture books. Explain differences in layout between picture books and other age-specific books.
  • Outline the additional elements involved in creating and publishing children’s eBooks.
  • Explain different uses of graphics and illustrations in children’s books. Discuss factors affecting illustration styles and choices. Explain how to write a brief for an illustrator or designer.
  • Explain how to use photographic images effectively when self-publishing children’s books.
  • Discuss ways to research material or information for children’s and young adult’s books.
  • Explain methods of marketing children’s and young adult’s books.
  • Determine ethical issues relevant to writing and publishing. Discuss issues specific to ethics in writing and publishing children’s books.

Scope of Publishing Work

The term ‘publishing’ conjures images of editors, proof-readers, printers, but the reality is publishing encompasses many different occupations and skills.

Large publishing houses might employ staff: Cost accountant, marketing representative, imprint manager, copy editor, production editor, proof-reader, indexer, picture researcher, paste-up artist, plant supervisor, telemarketer, bindery supervisor, letterer, layout artist, human resources director, traffic controller, editorial assistant, freelance writer, technical editor, promotion manager, design supervisor… There's opportunities! 

Some want a role a self-publisher. Publish your own work for less cost.  Anything printed and disseminated can be described as a publication! 

Categories of children's books include:

  • activities, crafts, games
  • education and reference
  • facts of life, puberty, growing up
  • celebrations and religion 
  • music, photography, arts  geography and world science
  • early learning, maths and literature 
  • fantasia and science fiction 
  • nature, science and how things work
  • animals and pets
  • fairy tales, myths and legends 

Anyone who engages in producing any of these might describe themselves as a publisher.

In children's book, books for young people whether fiction, non-fiction or educational can take considerable time to go through the steps of publishing. This differs from publishing news media or other forms. Knowing the genre and specific skills and insights into your chosen line of publishing is fundamental.


The most important issue is for the publisher to interpret client instructions accurately and those are implemented in the way the client would expect.

Here is a description of the production process for a non-fiction children's book.

1. The Development Stage

The writer develops a concept into a manuscript. This may include writing a proposal, and sometimes also an outline followed by several drafts. At this stage the manuscript will include specified photographs and artwork. For complex subject matter an expert (for the particular subject) or technical editor may also be involved. Co-authors and a design artist may also be involved.

2. Manuscript Preparation and Design

With the advent of modern technology authors now submit manuscripts on disk. A typesetter is therefore no longer required to re-type the manuscript. This means that there should fewer typing mistakes; however it is still the function of the copy editor to ensure that errors are not overlooked.

The manuscript is prepared for production by several editors under the direction of the production editor. The production editor ensures production costs are kept down by eliminating problems. Later, once the manuscript has changed to text and graphics, problems becomes very costly.

The work is checked for accuracy and consistency in style as it is passed on to each editor. Publishers using the latest technology are able to quickly go through editing steps. The designer works in collaboration with the production or technical editor and bases the design of the manuscript on art specifications and small parts of the manuscript that best represent the whole. The manuscript is coded for typesetting or formatting by the designer before being passed on to the production team.

3. Production

Once the manuscript has been planned, the production editor ensures that the plans introduced at the design and preparation stage are correctly implemented. Now the document has been formatted for production, the proof reader checks it against the manuscript to ensure accuracy and adds any corrections required. The corrections are made. A number of proof readers may be used to ensure accuracy at each stage.

Much of the work needed to create children's books is done with specialised software. At the completion of this process the manuscript is ready to print.

Who is this course for?

  • Writers or newly signed writers and children's authors
  • Writers seeking alternate routes of publication (self-publishers)
  • Anyone wanting to learn principles of children's book production and design
  • Marketing staff who need insights into the industry
  • Business owners increasing new services to clients, or increasing client market
  • Management staff or Editors who need to increase knowledge legal and ethical concerns
  • Anyone who wants a better understanding of today's publishing landscape!

At the end of this course you will:

  • Understand different roles in publishing
  • Understand the general process and types of editing 
  • Know how to develop an appropriate layout and design
  • Be confident to take an alternate publishing route
  • Understand some of the legal and ethical considerations involved in publishing


Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
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ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.

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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Rosemary Davies

Businesswoman, Journalist, Editor, Broadcaster, Teacher, Consultant for over 30 years.

John Mason

Writer, Manager, Teacher and Businessman with over 40 years interenational experience covering Education, Publishing, Leisure Management, Education, and Horticulture. He has extensive experience both as a public servant, and as a small business owner.
John is a well respected member of many professional associations, and author of over seventy books and of over two thousand magazine articles.

Rachel Syers

Rachel has worked as a newspaper journalist for the past 15 years in a range of roles from sub-editor and social columnist to news reporter, covering rounds such as education, health, council, music, television, court, police, Aboriginal and Islander affairs, and agriculture.
Her current role is Fashion Editor, features writer and features sub-editor with The Gold Coast Bulletin. She has co-authored a successful biography "Roma: From Prison to Paradise" about former prisoner-of-war turned yoga guru, Roma Blair, as well as freelanced as a writer, reviewer and researcher for Australian music and celebrity magazines such as WHO Weekly, Rave, Australasian Post and New Idea.
Rachel has a B.Journalism.

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