How to self-publish an adult coloring book


Adult coloring books are the hottest new segment in publishing, and for the most part, sales are so robust that they exceed sales of novels. The main problem with this genre is that they are mostly distributed by large publishers and independent authors have not properly taken advantage of this lucrative segment. Today we’ll be looking at what it takes to self-publish an adult coloring book and the ways you can go about distributing it in the retail space, as well as creating digital editions.

The benefits of print

When independent authors write and distribute fiction or non-fiction titles, selling your eBook on Amazon is a no-brainer. There are thousands of tutorials to help you properly format your book and use metadata correctly. Coloring books are a whole different beast. It’s a format that garners the most sales when in print, primarily because adults find it cathartic to sit with their Prismacolor or gel pens and color for a few hours.

Design and creation

The first step in creating your adult coloring book is choosing a theme. You won’t be able to get by with a bunch of random drawings. Today’s coloring books are thematic. For example, Dover Publishing specializes in educational coloring books, with lined sketches of “Georgia Wildflowers” and “Ancient Egypt.”

The standard adult coloring book is 40 pages, that’s the perfect amount to save on costs when you’re in the printing process. You don’t want anything bigger because it will likely overwhelm a potential customer.

Normally, authors will spend time making concept sketches and grading them in order to choose the best ones for publication. Once you have chosen those who will make the final cut, you must scan them into PDF format. I recommend using Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop for art assets, as it allows you more flexibility in editing your art or making small adjustments. Create a space a excellent guidelines which you should use, they talk about everything from margin settings to inside bleed.

Making a coloring book can be a daunting task for a freelance writer who may have only written a few novels and is looking for a new challenge. Sometimes writers aren’t artists and getting involved in creating art can be quite a challenge. If so, you might want to consider hiring a professional artist to illustrate the design for you. It can be quite a profitable business if you use a service like UPWORK, which is officially known as ODESK and E-Lance. You can probably spend a few thousand dollars max hiring someone from Europe, Russia or India to do the art for you.

I have hired hundreds of people at Upwork over the years and can share inside information to help you avoid any pitfalls. The most important thing you are going to do here is publish your work. You want to be very clear in your goals and state exactly what you expect from the artist. You also want to establish two cover letter questions. There are a ton of automated bots that apply to anything posted on Upwork, so if the candidate doesn’t answer your questions or just answers your question with a link to their portfolio, just ignore that candidate.

When you hire the person who seems to make the most sense, don’t let them draw on their own and hope for the best. When you hire someone cheap, you want to totally micromanage them. I’ve had a lot of issues in the past where someone was talking about a great game, gave me solid concept art, and when the final elements were delivered it was terrible. At every stage of the contract, have them show you what they are doing and give your approval, remember they are working for you.

create space

One of the services I would recommend for selling your end product is on Create Space. It is an Amazon company and there is great synergy between the print-on-demand platform and the Amazon online bookstore.

Create Space allows you to submit your content and either make physical copies and deliver them to your doorstep or access various bookstore catalogs and Create Space will only print your coloring book if sold .

I recommend not only going for the catalog where you can be seen in major bookstores across the country, but also spending the money and getting physical copies. Having printed editions will allow you to approach libraries, small bookstores and schools. Doing it in person is imperative if you’re just starting out, as it builds brand awareness and gets you used to promoting your book in a little elevator pitch.

It is important to note that 2 of the top 5 books on Amazon are adult coloring books and 994 adult coloring books have been published in the last 30 days. It takes about one sale a day to be in the top 500 of all adult coloring books. When you submit your books to Amazon, I place them in the following categories.

Arts & Photography > Drawing > Coloring books for adults
Children > Activities, crafts and games > Activity books > Coloring books

Create Space’s prices for making printed versions of your coloring book available and delivered to your home are;

250 color books of 40 pages $3400. . . $13.70 each
500 color books of 40 pages $3720. . . $7.43 each
1000 books of 40 pages in color $4300. . . $4.30 each
1500 books of 40 pages in color $4900. . . $3.26 each

Finally, how lucrative are Create Space and Amazon for adult coloring book sales? According to a “Color Me Happy” article, artist Jenean Morrison has self-published six complex adult coloring books on since 2012. “Over the past year, she has sold 15,414 books on Amazon. This year, in half the time, she sold 43,420.”

Other self-publishing options

Quick edit and WMC edit.

Traditional Editors

You might be wondering why do I need an editor? Coloring books are a big deal right now and there’s a ton of money being invested in this space. Beginning authors may not have the money to order thousands of copies of their own book to sell to bookstores or libraries. In other cases, the author may have a day job and not be able to devote hundreds of extra hours to a promotion. If so, here is a list of all publishers in North America that currently sell adult coloring books.

– Andrews McMeel Publishing LLC (featuring a range of coloring books in September 2015)

– Design Originals (A Fox Chapel publishing company)

– Dover Publications (publishing adult coloring books since the 1970s)

– Fox Chapel Editions

– Global Doodle Gems (collaboration of artists around the world to produce coloring books)

– Harper Collins Publishers

– Petit, Brown and company

– Random penguin house

– Quarto Publishing Group

– Management of press book publishers

–Sterling Publishing

Application development

If you want to create an adult coloring book app, this could be the most profitable way to break into the industry and gain valuable experience. There are plenty of free templates available that take the majority of the programming work out of app creation, saving you money.

The first step is to decide which ecosystem you want to build your coloring app for. Most people will choose Android and iOS as the two most viable options, but I would recommend building an app for the Microsoft format, as there are hardly any coloring books in the MS Store or available for Lumia smartphones.

I would select one operating system to launch on, as developing for Android and iOS at the same time can be very expensive. Indeed, different programming skills are involved. Finding someone who will work for cheap, who knows objective C, Xcode or Java can be a real challenge.

I would recommend developing for iOS first because people tend to spend the most money on app and app purchases and piracy is a rarity. You can also optimize your coloring book app for the new iPad PRO, which has a pressure-sensitive stylus, which is very indicative of coloring.

Keep in mind that if you decide to go the app route, it’s the most profitable, but the most saturated. Coloring books have been around since 2011 in app format, so you have a ton of competition. Most are aimed at children and young adults, so with the right marketing campaign, you could make some decent money. Once you have developed a model/API/libraries, you can continue to build new applications, at minimal cost.


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