Business Overview

Children’s books businesses publish children’s books, bringing illustrated stories to print. For businesses that have captivating books, the industry offers plenty of opportunity. Children’s book sales surpassed those of adult books in 2014, selling more than 2.7 billion books that year.

Additionally, business owners who start this type of business are in good company. Not only do many people have successful children’s book businesses today, but one of the most successful children’s authors in modern history began by self-publishing her work. Beatrix Potter funded the first runs of both Peter Rabbit and The Tailor of Gloucester. The two stories are popular even to this day.

Who is this business right for?

Most people who start a children’s book business have either already written or plan to write their own children’s book(s). Some business owners first try to publish their stories through traditional publishers, and others go directly into self-publishing.

What happens during a typical day at a children's book business?

Publishing a children’s book involves several distinct phases:

  1. Writing the story
  2. Creating illustrations to accompany the story
  3. Designing the book’s layout
  4. Printing the book
  5. Marketing and selling the printed book

Printing is usually outsourced to a company that has specialized equipment for printing runs of books. The other steps may be done by the business owner or outsourced to professionals. (Writing is almost always done by the business owner at first.)

What is the target market?

Counterintuitively, kids are not the target market for children’s books. Instead, it’s parents, schools, and libraries -- as they’re who actually purchase books. Children’s author Kate Klise says that schools and libraries are especially profitable customers as they purchase in bulk.

How does a children's book business make money?

A children’s book business makes money by selling copies of books. Books may be sold individually at retail prices or in bulk at wholesale prices.

What is the growth potential for a children's book business?

A children’s book business may be a small operation that has just a few titles, or it can grow into a major publishing house that has many works in print. Oliver the Clownfish is an example of a small business that has three titles. Scholastic, Inc. is one of the largest children’s-specific publishing houses. The company puts out more than 750 new titles annually.