Creating a safer world for all children

Picture Book Trims & Storyboards

Your story is polished. Before you start on your storyboard, the next major decision is what trim size to choose for your book.  Here’s why?

I read a story on a forum where a person had spent a ton of money working with a graphic designer to self-publish their children’s picture book.  When it came time to upload the cover and internal book to Amazon, it was rejected because it was not an Amazon standard trim size.

The devastated author shared her wisdom to help others not fall into the trap of working with a professional that did not know about industry standards.

If you are self-publishing, you are the boss and the client.  As a client prior to working with an illustrator or graphic designer, take some time and do your own research on page count, trim sizes, and illustration formats.  Your designer team may also offer suggestions, but the trim size will need to align with how you will print your book. 

There are standard trim sizes with a common page count of 32 pages.  Authors can make decisions on page count and trim size based on cost-effective printing. 

While researching for trim sizes consider these suggestions:

  • Do you want paperbacks or hardcopy books?  The cost is much higher for hardcopy books. 
  • What sizes are established publishers using for their books in your genre?
  • What size is your target market buying in your categories?
  • If cost is not a major factor, consider the scenery layout in your story and does it align more with a certain trim size?
  • If you are going to use Ingram Sparks and/or Amazon for print and distribution, check out their trim sizes.  There are standard trim sizes for both companies.

Trim sizes that are available by IngramSpark and Amazon’s KDP Print which has a similar list.


Once you have decided on your trim size, the storyboard is a perfect tool to plan and prepare for your book.  Use the storyboard as a visual tool to design the directional layout of your picture book.

Consider these suggestions with Storyboards:

  • Create your own storyboard mock-up of what your layout looks like with text and illustrations, there are templates on the web. 
  • Research similar genre illustrations and image scenery to get ideas for your book layout.
  • If you are searching for an illustrator, discuss the types of mediums they use and does this align with your picture book vision.   
  • If you are creative enough to write your story, don’t be afraid to come up with ideas for imagery scenes.
  • If you are working with an illustrator, share your illustration ideas.
  • If you are working with a graphic designer, share the black and white storyboard images with them so they can give you their professional suggestions with layout and scene ideas.

This part of the process is still in the infant stage of creating your book and it’s where you will work with your illustrator and graphic designer and give them room to use their creative genius.

When choosing a book team in self-publishing, it’s important to research, read testimonies, ask for examples of their work, and discuss copyright, pricing, and time frames.  And ask for a proposal with all this information.  This is your storybook that you are going to present to the world with your name on the front cover, alongside the illustrator.  Be proud of what you are creating for kids to read. 

And, while there are expectations of e-books dominating the book industry when it comes to children’s stories, don’t discount the power of printed books.  Those young consumers enjoy the look and feel of beautifully presented picture books and tuck them under their pillows or pop them in their schools’ bags to share with their kindy mates. 


Design a children’s picture book

Thinking Thursday Storyboarding


Christine is based on the sunny coast of Western Australia in the seaside town of Geraldton.