How to create a coloring book that sells

This post is going to show you how to create a coloring book from scratch, self-publish it on Amazon and everything in between. If you own an adult coloring book and thought ‘I want to do that!’ or you’re just curious about the process, this is the post for you.

What is an adult coloring book?

They are literally coloring books for adults with more detail and a twist. I say with a twist because most of them are catering for the self-help market. There are coloring books for mindfulness, creativity, balance, peace, relaxation and much more. Some are just for lovers of dogs, cats, patterns, fashion and again much much more.

For some reason and I say ‘some reason’ because I don’t think anyone can pin point why, Adult Coloring Books have completely taken off. This is great news for Indie Authors, Artists and Graphic Designers. Here’s a few reasons why?

  • What better way to serve our creative fans than with an Adult Coloring Book?
  • Additional Revenue Streams.
  • Exposure. More eyeballs on your work. More readers to discover your backlist.

Are they here to stay?

The jury is still out. Is it fad? Probably. But some fads can go on for a long time. If you’re creating one just to be on trend and to capture the current zeitgeist, don’t do it! The market can change dramatically and swing the other way by the time your book hits stores. Do it for the right reasons and it shouldn’t matter whether it takes off or not.

Who are the big players in the market?

Joanna Basford, Blue Star Coloring, Adult Coloring Books, Adult Coloring Book World, Christian Art Publishers and Paige Tait just to name a few.

I recommend you buy anything by Joanna Basford as the quality of her books are amazing.

Do you need to be an artist to make an Adult Coloring Book?

Short answer, no. You have a few options. Options 1: Hire a freelance artist/graphic designer to provide the artwork. Option 2: Doing it yourself. This is a perfectly reasonable choice. But only attempt to do it yourself if you have the following:

  • You’re already an artist/graphic designer or arty person. If not, don’t worry read the next point.
  • Willing to learn a design program like Illustrator.
  • You like a challenge and believe in grit.
  • Have a good eye for design (not essential but it helps).
  • Passion. There will be frustrating times and sore hands.
  • Love detail.

If you chose Option 1. please skip ahead as your next step is to compile and publish the book. All the hard work has been done for you! Everybody else you are going to go on a roller-coaster ride called creative madness. But at the end of the ride will be the kind of euphoria when you have a baby. Trust me.

Next step is to decide how you are going to make your designs?

Again you have two choices. Hand draw your sketches like Joanna Basford. Then scan them on your computer. Or use a design program like Illustrator to digitally draw your designs. I recommend going digital as it’s easy to delete, copy and paste shapes. Plus you can move things around with ease. Some people might use both hand and digital elements. The purists might hand draw everything. Choose your tools wisely and work with your strengths as it will save you oodles of time later.

How did I create my Coloring Book?

I’m a beginner Graphic Designer so I used Adobe Illustrator for all my drawing. I have the Adobe Suite where I pay a subscription fee every month and get access to the full Adobe Creative Suite including Photoshop and Adobe Acrobat.

I mainly used the Pen Tool to outline my shapes which is basically drawing but with your mouse.

I averaged 1 design a day, about 5 a week. 28 in total. Refining along the way. All up it took me 6 weeks to complete.

I self-published the coloring book through Createspace and it is now available at Amazon.

Things you need to keep in mind as you create your artwork:

  • Create the best book you can create.
  • Whats your overall theme and style? Find one and stick to it.
  • You need detail but not too small people can’t color it.
  • Simple, complicated or a both? You decide.
  • How many designs/pages are you going to have? They can range from 25 designs to 100.
  • Size of your books pages. I used the 8.5 X 11 inch template on Createspace but you can choose a custom size, keep in mind the distribution is limited for a custom size. Get your sizing sorted in the beginning as it’s a pain to arrange and redesign things at the end.
  • Are you going to have a ‘This Book belongs to….’ page. It’s a nice touch but not suitable for all themes.
  • Copyright page.
  • Title page.
  • Blurb/Sales description.
  • Sub-title/tagline. Whats the theme or benefit of your book?
  • International Markets. Are you going to use Color or Colour?
  • Cover. Don’t do the cover until the end. The cover should sum up your book and let the colorer know what to expect.
  • Double sided or single sided? I used Adobe Acrobat to insert blank pages to make single sided pages.

As the artwork is the hardest part there are going to be many ups and downs. Just keep going and keep the end product in mind.

Compiling your coloring book.

Here’s where it can get a little tricky. Allow up to a week for submitting files to Createspace. Guaranteed you are going too see problems and will have to tweak some things as you go. My biggest problem was that some images were cut off the page. To avoid this make sure your images are 0.8 of an inch from the edge.

Createspace requires a PDF interior file and PDF Cover. The interior file needs to be a high Quality Print/Press ready file. All files need to be flattened before submission but If you forget they usually will do it for you. Make sure your images are more than 300dpi or they will pixelated and low quality.

Covers need to full wrap as below and it is difficult to estimate where the spine is but allot of coloring books don’t have one and you can always update later. As you can see I don’t have a spine as the book is not that thick.

Once your files are approved and issues have been ignored and/or fixed. You can digitally approve your book or choose to see a hard copy before you approve. Once approved it takes 3–5 business days for your book to be on Amazon and they even choose your Amazon categories for you.

Limitations of Self-publishing a coloring book:

  • Paper Quality. You can’t choose the paper thickness or quality.
  • Size of book. I couldn’t get a large square size so had to go with 8.5 X 11 inches.
  • You can’t get that gold embossed look like on Joanna Basford’s coloring books. Damn!
  • Cover. Again you can’t choose the paper thickness just glossy or matte.
  • Images can’t go over the edge. All images including patterns will be 0.8 of an inch from the edge.
  • Proof copies can take a while to be sent to international locations such as Australia.
  • In general you just can’t get the same quality as a big publisher. C’est la vie. Move on to the next project.

How to capture the emails of your customers.

Subscribers are like gold in the Author/Book world. In a Kindle Book an Author might put a free book inside to capture a customer as a subscriber. Here’s what I’ve put in my coloring book to try and capture some of my customers:

A simple page to get a free bonus/book/gift inside your book is a good incentive to get people to sign up. Create the page on your website/blog and create a button for them to sign up to get their free gift. Mailchimp or whatever service you have does the rest.

How to market to the coloring folk of the world.

  • Blog about your journey and start attracting traffic from the colouring community.
  • Target your Facebook Ad’s to customer who like other coloring books such as The Secret Garden.
  • Slowly tell your email list about what your working on then send your launch emails out on release day.
  • Send a few copies to influential bloggers.
  • Get as many reviews as possible from the start. Family, Friends, Subscribers, Co-workers, everyone.
  • Giveaway copies as prizes and post it on a Competition Club’s Website.

Here’s that Coloring Book again…..

This adult coloring book will take you on a journey to the magical world of Sacred Heart. A kaleidoscope of hearts, swords, stars, flowers and much more are waiting for you to bring them to life! The designs range from beginner to complex. Unleash your creativity and be inspired by the Sacred Heart.

Find out what everyone is talking about and start coloring now! Buy Now.

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Originally published at on December 18, 2015.

Australian, Entrepreneur, Writer, Creative — Can’t stop, Wont’ Stop

Australian, Entrepreneur, Writer, Creative — Can’t stop, Wont’ Stop