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  • Writer's pictureJohn Lim

MF 259 : Proofs and the self-publishing process for your coloring book

Updated: Jun 23, 2022

On this episode, we cover the self-publishing process for your coloring book. More at

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Part 1: Finalizing your coloring book manuscript and cover

Last week, we covered illustrations and images. Today, we’re going to dive into compiling your manuscript and getting it ready for publication.

Before we get to that, a question you may be wondering is how many images should I have in my coloring book? There’s obviously no hard and fast rule so look at your original conditions and constraints. If you’re hiring a freelance artist for your artwork, part of this will come down to dollars and cents – what’s your budget and how much can you spend. For Corporate Cliches, we decided to go with 19 images. This was a good number that fit well within our budget and allowed us to finish the book on time for a Christmas 2016 release. We had many more clichés leftover from our list, so many that we had enough for two or three books. We often joke that we should do a sequel and we may at some point.

So, while there is no hard and fast rule, I recommend at least 15 images or more. Again, look to your budget but also the theme and complexity of your book as guidelines. Just because a coloring book has 100 images doesn’t mean it’s a quality book. Likewise, just because a book has less than 20 does not mean it’s not a worthwhile book.

Once you have the images nailed down, you’ll want to start compiling into a manuscript. It’s funny to think of a coloring book that way but it is, in fact, a manuscript. You should make sure that the images your artist delivers are in a high-resolution format. I recommend Tiff or PNG files.

One of my co-creators on this project is a professional graphic artist, so while she didn’t have time to do the illustrations and vector images herself, she took charge of managing the project.

You can compile the images yourself using a Word document. KDP has templates, which you can download and should work for coloring books. Remember, as we covered last week, use one-sided images, which our test market indicated as a big preference for adult coloring books. You can then compile the manuscript into a pdf document.

I believe you can also do this in Illustrator, which is what our co-creator did with the images. If you’re familiar with that program, you may have an easier time manipulating the images and making minor adjustments as needed. If you’re not using Illustrator, Word would also work.

Once you have your coloring book manuscript done and exported as a PDF, you can upload this directly to your KDP account.

Next, you’ll want to add a cover. There are many ways you can about creating a coloring book cover and I refer you back to episodes 241 and 249, in which I cover the process for measuring the proper spine width. Remember, a paperback cover isn’t simply the front but includes front, back, and spine. KDP has a calculator that will compile precise measurements, including the spine for a book based on page count.

As for the cover design, there are many ways you can about this. Below, I’ll cover three great options to consider.

  1. If you’re already working with a freelance graphic artist, you can commission him or her to create the cover. Keep in mind this will add to your costs.

  2. You can use KDP’s cover creator, which is a great free option.

  3. Canva works great for any paperback book. Refer back to episodes 241 and 249 for a more in-depth overview.

If you have experience with Illustrator, obviously that will work well for creating a cover. For Corporate Cliches, my co-creator created the cover for the book using Illustrator.

Once complete your cover, you can upload it to KDP. Be sure to open the previewer and flip through the virtual version of your coloring book and download a pdf proof copy.

Part 2: Proofs and self-publishing your coloring book

Now, we’re going to get your book ready for publication. I Refer you back to episode 245, in which I cover the steps for a traditional book. You won’t need all of them for a coloring book but it’s a good primer for understanding the self-publishing steps and process.

  1. First, you’ll be publishing this as a paperback only. KDP offers print-on-demand for paperbacks, meaning they will print out the book as people purchase it so you don’t have to worry about inventory. KDP takes a percentage of sales so there are no upfront costs. KDP is also well known for ebooks, hence the name “Kindle Direct Publishing” but unlike a traditional book, there’s no reason for you to publish a Kindle version of your coloring book, at least none I can think of. Since the purpose is to have people color in your book, an ebook version won’t be of much use to your market. There may be other platforms that offer interactive features. You may want to explore and research different platforms if you want to publish an interactive ebook version of your coloring book. This is an area I haven’t explored yet so if you have, let me know. I’d love to hear more about that!

  2. Second, make sure to order a proof copy of your before you publish. It takes about a week or so to process and deliver so leave time for the proof. A proof copy is especially important for a coloring book as it allows you to see the images in physical print form. Test it out. You may want to order a few copies and have several people try it out. Make sure the book represents your vision and is a fun experience for those who buy it.

  3. Third, once you’ve gone through your proof copy, make any last-minute changes or tweaks. Once that’s done, submit and publish the book for publication. Once you hit submit, KDP can take between 24 to 72 hours to review your book before they release it to the public so build in the extra time. Also, if there’s an issue with the book, they will bounce it back so I recommend adding a good week or two as a margin to publication. At worst, your coloring book will come out a little early, assuming you’ve announced a release date.


Once you have your images, compile your manuscript, format it, and create or outsource a cover. Upload your files and order a proof copy.

Part 3: What I’m reading

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (****): a very sweet and heartwarming book, which revolves around a dog and his lifelong relationship with his owner and family, all told from his point of view. A quick, enjoyable read.

Books by John

  1. Check out my Amazon author profile.

Support the Podcast

  1. The Corporate Cliches Adult Coloring Book: makes the perfect stocking stuffer or white elephant gift.

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#coloringbook #selfpublishing #MFPodcast #podcast #creatingacoloringbook

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