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Printing Surprise on my Picture Book Adventure

For about 14 months now I have diligently been making myself an indie children’s picture book author illustrator. Granted, I’ve been focusing on my writing for about 18 years while tapping into the desire within myself to write and illustrate for kids. But last year I started honing that focus in to this grand adventure of writing, illustrating and publishing children’s character-building karate picture books. I have encountered hills and valleys, ups and downs, and quite a few surprises along the way. That includes the time I was taken aback at the cost to do regular color printing.

Up to that point, I had written the story for my first book, edited and proofread it, got critiques and input, and re-edited the text. I had illustrated all of the pages and finished them with color. Then scanned them in and added the polished text. Now I had the makings for a book prototype and wanted to print it up to get input from beta readers including both children and adults. I needed professional color printing, so off to Office Depot I went.


I ordered a few copies of the book. Each one included a total of a couple dozen full color pages. For each book prototype I went with the least expensive, easiest print job. I ordered regular paper, single sided. It’s likely that I even used a coupon for printing services since I save those when they mail them to me. So my bill was probably a little smaller than it otherwise would have been.

printing costs may cause sticker shock

The total for each book prototype was in the range of about $17.80, nearly $18 per book. For just the color printing. That didn’t include the cover, or a couple of the pages, or binding of any type. I was more than a little surprised. But this also helped me realize that the retail cost of fully illustrated children’s picture books these days is reasonable. I had previously thought that they were pricey, but I was comparing them to the cost from many years ago.


I assembled my book prototypes and sent them home with a few families. I kept a copy to have older people read in one sitting. They all gave me great input which helped me improve upon the book and the story and even the formatting and the cover. This whole book adventure has been a joyful path of creating, collaborating and learning for me. And I hope it has been something like that for all involved.

My wish is for everyone to find at least one little dream seed inside themselves. And that they will nourish that dream into a goal and put their actions and energy into working on it as they find their own life’s adventure. For me, that has been the secret to truly living. And I am so glad that I have finally learned to live while I’m alive.

-Jenifer Tull-Gauger

cover prototypes after printing

Jenifer Tull-Gauger Kyoshi

Children's picture book author/illustrator. Traditional karate teacher and practitioner. Loves drawing and all kinds of art. Also into animals, plants and Mother Nature.

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