How to Edit Your Children’s Book for Publishing

The world of self-editing children’s books could be confusing and daunting. An editor plays many roles in the children’s book publishing process. If you’ve decided to wear the hat of a book editor, use our professional book editing tips to polish your draft gently and thoroughly, and make your little readers fall in love with your book.  

Children’s Book Editing Tips for Self Publishing 

As a children’s book publisher, we can tell this with surety that self-publishing a children’s book is the hardest thing to do. Professional editors use a definite process comprising different steps to edit and proofread a book, such as editorial assessment, developmental editing, copy editing, and proofreading. This blog will discuss each process step so you can self-edit and self-publish your book without expert help. 

Editorial Assessment 

The editorial assessment is the first step in editing a children’s book. The process includes finding the problems in the book and figuring out ways to solve them. They include:

  • Potholes
  • Loopholes
  • Out-of-order characters
  • Out-of-place scenes or missing scenes
  • Unnecessary story exaggeration
  • Lack of emotion
  • Lack of moral of the story or point of view
  • Strong vs. poor opening line

While these are common checkpoints for all books, children’s book publishing requires a few other elements to be assessed, such as; 

  • Age-appropriateness
  • Sentence and paragraph length
  • Word count
  • Number of pages
  • Picture appropriateness
  • Suspense and thrill
  • Rhyme and meter
  • Language fitting for the age

For instance, as kids have short attention spans, a children’s picture book’s word count should be between 500 and 700 words and must not exceed 1000 words. 

Likewise, a picture book for children is 32 pages traditionally, and you must know how to spread the text across these pages.

An assessment helps you to get an overview of the book before delving into deeper matters like tone, grammar, punctuation, format, or book interior. 

Beyond finding the problems in the book, you must also be aware of the market – children’s books that sell more – and be familiar with the popular themes and trends in children’s book publishing. 

Read the art of self-publishing a children’s book here.

Developmental Editing 

Once you have noted down the changes required in the book, it is time to dive deep into the manuscript and revisit it from the beginning. Developmental editing goes by different names, such as Line Edit, Substantive Edit, and Structural Edit, and generally takes a lot of time and back and forth to complete. 

At this stage, children’s book publishers expect authors to start finessing the text of the book, which includes the following elements:

  • Words appropriateness 

Check whether the choice of words, style, tone, and specifics reflect the age group. You must use tender words, smaller sentences, and simpler terms to make the book comprehensible for little minds. 

  • Sentence structure 

Make sure the shift from one sentence, paragraph, and chapter to the next is smooth, simple, and crip. This is the time to cut short the word count for a children’s book with pictures. 

  • Character development and consistency 

The lead character must be consistent in their thoughts and action. The story also needs conflict and action to keep readers engaged and intrigued. 

  • Choosing Tell vs. Show wisely

A children’s book should be more showing than telling, which makes illustrations an essential part of picture books. 

However, if you really have to explain the story through text, try to visualize the scene and add sensory details to enhance children’s imagination. This will also let life into your story. 

Example: Instead of writing, “John fell from the scooter, hurt his hand, and felt dazed,” alter it to, “John’s bike skidded, and he rolled over and fell, banging his hand against the tree. He tried to sit up but saw stars and clouds around his eyes. He fell back on the ground and cried for his mom.”

Tip: Look for places where the text is redundant. If the picture shows the monkey’s hat is green, you needn’t write it. The text should add something that the illustration doesn’t. 

  • Story Pacing

Pacing the story must be one of the top priorities for children’s picture book publishing. Most children’s book publishers don’t do this, but we highly recommend story pacing. 

Story pacing is knowing what illustration and text should go on page 2, page 3, page 4, and so on. This helps break the picture book down at the right moments or changes of scene. 

Note: Click this link to read more book editing tips for self-publishing written by Writat experts. 

Copy Editing 

If you are self-publishing a book, copy editing is the key. The grammar rules for book publishing are ever-changing, and while editors do their best to edit a book, many aren’t trained in Grammar perfection. And that’s why you must wear the hat of a Copy Editor if you cannot afford to hire one. 

Copy editors typically look for typos, grammar issues, wordiness, etc. 

They also check for consistency. Example: If the sofa was set in the east corner of the living room at the beginning of the scene, is it still there at the end of the chapter or moved to another location? If you wrote on page three that uncle rabbit has a purple nose, does it say that nose is green on page seven?

Copy editing is the second set of eyes that finds the things you have ignored or missed in your manuscript. 

Self-Book Publishing Tip: Take a short break after completing developmental editing, probably a week. It will help you to declutter your head and provide a fresh outlook for copy editing. 

To minimize time spent on copy editing, use a word processing software like the ‘Grammarly App.’ Read this post to learn how to write a book with Grammarly. 

Proof Reading 

Proofreading is the final step in the children’s book editing process before self-publishing. 

As a children’s book publisher, Writat offers affordable proofreading services for children’s book authors. Click here to check our standalone solutions, or contact our publishing consultant for more customizations. 

Proofreading takes place once the design of the book is ready for self-publishing. While proofreading the book, make sure that the designed pages match the edited manuscript. Look for mistakes like bad breaks in your words, spelling and spacing errors, awkward design, widows in your layout, etc. 

Once you have finished proofreading, your book is ready for self-publishing. You can register at and self-publish a book with the confidence that you are releasing a wonderful children’s book. 

Well, this completes our book editing tips for self publishing children’s books, and we hope this helps you write a book. If you need help publishing your manuscript, Writat can turn your story into a beautiful picture book worth reading.

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