How to Publish a Coloring Book in 7 Steps

Coloring books can make a lot more than you think...

How to Publish a Coloring Book in 7 Steps
Table of contents

Creating a coloring book can be a great way to try self-publishing or to add another income stream on the side, and it’s way easier than you might think.

Nowadays, you can generate high-quality coloring book pages and upload them to a platform that offers print-on-demand services (like Amazon’s KDP) in less than a week. And coloring books aren’t just for kids, either. Plenty of adults are looking for ways to de-stress after work or on the weekends, which means even more opportunities for $$$. 

Even if you never considered publishing a coloring book before, this blog post will show you exactly how to do it and why it might be worth it after all. 

Psssst…Learning how to publish a low-content book is just one of dozens of bonus lessons and resources included in the #1 student-recommended publishing course on the market. Secure your spot in the AI Publishing Academy today!

Is Publishing a Coloring Book Worth It?

There are three reasons why publishing a coloring book can absolutely be worth it: 

1. It takes a fraction of the time and effort that publishing a traditional book takes. 

2. It can bring in steady income to fund your other business ventures. 

3. It can be a fun way to exercise your creativity. 

Of course, most self-publishers aren’t making a full-time income with their no-content or low-content books, but some definitely are!

Even an extra $300/month comes out to $3,600/year or an extra $36,000 over ten years!

That’s a healthy down payment on a house or a brand-new car these days. 

Here’s one of our students sharing her experience with coloring books:

What Are the Costs Associated with Publishing a Coloring Book?

The costs associated with publishing your own coloring book are related to your interior images and cover. Depending on how comfortable you are with design, you can do everything for less than $10 with just a handful of AI and graphic design tools, or you can pay a bit more to bring in some professional help. The bottom line is that a great cover will usually pay for itself, while a poor cover might actually cost you money in the long run. 

If you decide to take on the design work yourself, you’ll need the following: 

  • A Midjourney AI subscription (the $30/month subscription is the best deal)
  • A Premium Canva subscription is optional, but you’ll need at least a free account

If you decide to hire out instead, you’ll need anywhere from $500 to $1,000+, depending on the number of illustrations you’re looking for. 

For those who don’t know, Midjourney is basically the art equivalent of ChatGPT and will instantly produce images based on your prompts. Canva is a drag-and-drop graphic design program with thousands of templates and graphics for creating all kinds of documents and projects. 

Although a monthly subscription might sound expensive, Midjourney lets you generate unlimited images. So, 1000 images for $30 a month only comes out to $0.03/image. The math here makes it pretty obvious that DIY is the smarter way to go.

So, how do you actually go about the process? 

1. Conceptualizing Your Coloring Book

No matter what type of book you are publishing, the first step should always be to research. At least, that’s true if you want to make money. There’s no use publishing a coloring book or activity book on a certain topic if there are already dozens of established best-sellers and the market is already saturated. 

Here’s what that research boils down to: 

Identifying Your Audience

First, identify the target audience for your coloring book. This could be children excited about animals and fairy tales, adults interested in stress relief, or hobbyists passionate about specific subjects like gardening or dog training. 

Coloring Books for Kids Often Include:

  • Basic illustrations
  • Wide spaces for easy coloring
  • Educational captions under the pictures
  • A limited number of pages

Coloring Books for Adults Often Include:

  • Inspirational quotes
  • Spoofs or PG-13 jokes 
  • More intricate designs
  • More pages 

Coloring Books for Seniors Often Include:

  • Large-print text for easier reading
  • Simplified designs to accommodate fine motor skills
  • Therapeutic themes to aid relaxation and memory
  • High-contrast images for better visual clarity
  • Fewer pages to prevent fatigue

Researching the Market

Investigate the current coloring book market by looking at top-selling products using the search bar on the Amazon store or tools like KDPSpy, which will display the best-seller rank and estimated profits of top-performing books. You should also examine customer reviews of Amazon's top-selling coloring books to gain insights into what buyers appreciate and what they feel is lacking. This research helps you understand what themes are oversaturated and which ones have gaps that your coloring book could fill. 

Choosing a Theme and Style 

Next, decide on a cohesive theme that will appeal to your identified audience. 

Consistency is super important here because it keeps the audience engaged and sets clear expectations. A page that stands out like a sore thumb will likely come back to haunt you in the reviews section, so take this seriously!

Theme Ideas:

Here’s a list of 12 themes to get the creative juices flowing: 

  1. Nature and Animals: Flowers, trees, forests, oceans, safari animals, pets, insects
  2. Fantasy: Dragons, unicorns, fairies, mermaids, castles, mythical creatures
  3. Mandalas and Patterns: Intricate geometric designs, kaleidoscopic patterns, henna designs
  4. Cities and Architecture: Famous buildings, skylines, landmarks from around the world
  5. Food and Sweets: Cakes, candies, fruits, vegetables, elaborate desserts.
  6. Inspirational Quotes: Words of wisdom or encouragement surrounded by decorative designs
  7. Storybook Characters: Scenes and famous characters from fairy tales, nursery rhymes, or children's books
  8. Mindfulness and Yoga: Yoga poses, meditation symbols, zen patterns
  9. Cultural Designs: Traditional patterns, henna, Aboriginal art, Day of the Dead skulls
  10. Holidays and Seasons: Christmas, Halloween, spring flowers, beach scenes, winter wonderlands
  11. Vehicles: Helicopters, airplanes, rockets, boats, spaceships, bikes, cars, monster trucks
  12. Countries: Spain, France, Canada, Brazil, USA, UK, China, Japan, Hawaii, Egypt

Pro Tip: Don’t underestimate the seasons!

Check out these insane sales numbers from just Halloween:

That’s nearly $100k in monthly revenue for the top sellers on the market!

Style Ideas:

The style is different from the theme and affects the overall look of the illustrations. Are the lines thick or thin? How are the characters’ eyes shaped? How realistic should the illustrations look? 

Here’s a list of styles you can request from an illustrator or AI tool like Midjourney:

  • Cartoon
  • Mandala
  • Realistic
  • Comic
  • Anime
  • Watercolor
  • Fantasy
  • Vintage
  • Floral
  • Minimalist
  • Tribal
  • Pixel art
  • Surreal
  • Pop art
  • Cubism
  • Abstract
  • Pixar style
  • Disney style 
  • Zentangle or Zendoodle
  • Barbie style

2. Creating the Content

After you’ve identified a solid idea, it’s time to bring it to life! 

The end goal here is to design a coloring book that’s engaging, high-quality, and appealing to the intended audience.

You’ll have two options for getting the content ready: 

  1. Developing the Designs Yourself
  2. Hiring Artists and Designers

AI Prompt for Creating Coloring Book Pages Yourself

Here’s our top-secret prompt for generating unlimited coloring pages from Midjourney. 

[Type of image you want to be created], [style of image], coloring page, black and white, high dof, 8k, -- ar 85:110

Let’s break this prompt down into its different parts. 

The first part of the prompts should mention your theme and the exact objects you’re looking for. The second part is completely optional. If you don’t pick a certain style, Midjourney will generate several different ones depending on what it thinks is best. You can ask it to keep producing new versions to see if one sparks your interest. HOF stands for “high depths of field,” which means all the objects in the generated image should be in focus. Then the 8k stands for high resolution, and the last part has to do with the “aspect ratio” or the dimensions of the photo. 

Our team and students have tested this prompt dozens of times, but like any AI tool, Midjourney might not always get it right. You can always ask it to “try again” or try tweaking the prompt however you’d like to experiment with different factors. 

Human vs. AI Coloring Book Page Examples

You can see here that the quality of AI-generated coloring book pages is just as good—if not even better—than human coloring book pages, and these tools are improving every day. It’s mindblowing what they can already produce. 

Take a look: 

3. Preparing for Publication

Midjourney can generate some pretty impressive images, but they’ll all need to be formatted before you can actually publish your coloring book. 

Here’s what that entails: 

  • Double-checking that the AI didn’t create extra fingers or other weird anomalies
  • Double-checking that all the lines are clear 
  • Making sure that the coloring book is formatted correctly as 8.5 x 11 inches
  • Remembering to leave blank pages so that the coloring pages don’t bleed if someone uses markers 
  • Including a border to prevent the artwork from running into the binding or allowing bleed (choose one or the other)
  • Following the ideal page length of 109 pages to maximize royalties (visit here to check your eBook royalties potential).

This is where Canva comes in. Our students have access to our exclusive coloring book outline that’s already pre-formatted, but you can search through their free templates to find one that you like. 

4. Choosing the Right Self-Publishing Platforms

Choosing where to self-publish your book can influence the success and visibility of a coloring book, but based on our experience, there’s a clear winner—Amazon. 

Comparing Self-Publishing Options

These are some of the top self-publishing platforms out there: 

  • Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP): Definitely the most popular on the list
  • IngramSpark: Broad distribution, printing costs can be higher
  • Lulu: Favors niche markets, offers print-on-demand services
  • Blurb: Good for photo books and comic books 

Advantages of Using Amazon KDP

There are a lot of advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing on Amazon. But here’s why Amazon beats out the competition every time: 

  • Massive Reach: Amazon is a global leader in online retail, and publishing through KDP provides your coloring book with instant access to millions of potential customers across several different countries and book markets.
  • High Royalty Rates: With KDP, you can earn up to 70% in royalties on all book sales, which is extremely competitive within the industry.
  • Ease of Use: KDP offers a user-friendly platform that simplifies the publishing process, from upload to distribution. The learning curve is really small, even for people who don’t consider themselves very tech-savvy. 
  • Print on Demand: We’ll talk about this more in the next section, but this feature eliminates the need for large upfront costs associated with print runs, as books are printed only when ordered.

5. Printing Considerations

You’ve basically got two options for printing your coloring book: 

Print On Demand (POD)

  • Low Risk: Ideal for new authors and publishers or those with uncertain demand; no need for large initial print runs or storage.
  • Flexibility: Allows for single copies to be printed as orders come in.
  • Integration: Combines printing with distribution for streamlined operations.
  • Quality Assurance: Platforms like Amazon have quality checks in place to make sure the size and paper type are what you’d like them to be before going live. 

Bulk Printing Options

  • Cost-Effective: Suitable for authors and publishers expecting high demand; reduces unit cost significantly.
  • Large Volume: Involves ordering large quantities at once, requiring a substantial upfront investment.
  • Logistics: You’ll have to plan for storage and distribution to manage bulk inventory effectively.

Which Is Better? 

Amazon KDP offers print-on-demand services, which basically means they take care of printing, shipping, and inventory management for you in exchange for a small cut of your book sales. This is 100% worth it in the long run when you factor in how much time and energy it saves you. 

6. Marketing and Promotion

It’s pretty unlikely that you’re going to be investing heavy time and money into your coloring book venture, so we don’t necessarily recommend pumping tons of ads for them. But just like a regular 30,000-word book, reviews are still important. 

Getting Book Reviews 

We typically tell our students to aim for at least 100 reviews per 30k-word book to start seeing momentum in their book sales, but that’s not necessarily realistic in the low-content and no-content spaces. A good rule of thumb is to try to hit a minimum of 15 reviews for each coloring book you put out. In a perfect world, you’d get a lot more, but as a side project that shouldn’t take up too much of your time, this is a good place to start. 

You can reach out to friends and extended family to help establish a solid base of reviews. Just make sure not to have anyone connected to your household address leave one. This can trigger Amazon to flag your account, which is NOT worth it. 

7. Tracking Sales and Recurring Revenue

Depending on your theme, your coloring book might not sell year-round, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. 

  • Holiday Sales Peaks: Sales for coloring books typically peak during major holiday months, such as December for Christmas, October for Halloween, and February for Valentine’s Day. This is due to increased gift buying and holiday-related purchases.
  • Predictable Revenue: The predictability of these sales peaks means you can prepare and plan your releases around these times. By timing the launch of new coloring books or special editions to coincide with these holidays, you can maximize exposure and sales.
  • Peak Launch Times: The peak launch time seems to be about two months before the holidays. Anything after that is usually too late to build up anticipation, and anything before then is typically too early for people to be searching for holiday-related products. 

Is It Necessary to Copyright a Coloring Book Before Selling It?

Nope! It’s not necessary to formally register a copyright before publishing or making any book sales. That being said, basic copyright is automatically applied upon a book’s creation, and adding an additional copyright disclaimer inside your front matter never hurts. It might deter others from stealing your work even if you never officially registered your copyright. 

Do I Need an ISBN for My Self-Published Coloring Book?

An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is necessary for the distribution of any new book product, including book bundles. Most major retailers, like Amazon, offer free ISBNs for publishing with them to help them manage inventory for publishers and booksellers.

Turning Publishing Into Sustainable Profits 

You’ve heard all about the process of publishing a coloring book, but how about seeing some of the actual results? 

Samuel is a college student whose low-content books performed even better than his high-content ones, earning him almost $4k in a single month! 

Listen to his story here: 

And Samuel was just like many of our other students: 

❌ No prior publishing, writing, or business experience 

❌ No degree under his belt

❌ Didn’t even speak English as his first language

This can work for you, too! 

The secrets to sustainable profits are just a click away in this totally free publishing webinar

Come see what’s possible!

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