A Guide for Creating Your Own Colouring Book for Adults

Adult colouring books can be a great addition to your product offerings. If you love creating lineart, they’re a fantastic option. Whether you draw intricate floral patterns, do hand lettering, or paint delicate Mucha-esque faeries, there’s an audience for every subject matter and level of detail.

A short history of adult colouring books

Not just for kids anymore, adult colouring books skyrocketed in popularity in 2015. You couldn’t walk into a bookstore without seeing Johanna Basford’s popular adult colouring book series on display. While interest in adult colouring books peaked in December 2015, there was a resurgence in March of 2020 (thanks, COVID). Since then, adult colouring books have remained popular, with many people saying they help them practice mindfulness and reduce their anxiety. In fact, studies have shown there are many health benefits to colouring in a colouring book, and they’re considered a form of art therapy.

Self-publishing a colouring book

So, if you’re thinking about creating your own adult colouring book, what do you need to know? Let’s dive into the specifics.

The difference between adult colouring books and children’s colouring books

Technically there’s no difference between adult and children’s colouring books. Adult books tend to be more intricate with lots of smaller areas for us older humans with precise motor control–but not always.

The subject matter can also be more mature. There are lots of popular ‘swear word’, gorier or sexier colouring books available.

Why adult colouring books and not childrens’?

Children are most likely to gravitate to colouring books with their favourite tv or movie characters (and you don’t want to deal with IP issues). They–or rather their parents–aren’t willing to pay the premium cost of a small run of artists’ work to simply entertain their kids for a little while, especially when a Dollar Store colouring book would do the same.

Where can you self-publish your book?

There are a few different options when it comes to self-publishing your colouring book. You can go the traditional route and print through a printer or use online services like:

  • Blurb – They recommend their Trade Book product for colouring books
  • Lulu – They suggest their 60# uncoated white paper, paperback or saddle-stitch depending on your page count

How many pages should you have?

Your colouring book should ideally have around a minimum of 20 to 25 pages, any less than that and you might want to consider selling looseleaf pages instead.

What type of paper?

Adult colouring books are a premium product so you should choose a premium weight paper. There’s nothing more annoying than the paper falling apart while you colour or bleeding through the other side if you have a double-sided book. The ideal paper for a colouring book is between 80 to 120# (higher is heavier) and uncoated. Adding a serration for easy tearing out is a nice plus.

What price should you sell for?

It depends on many factors: what type of paper, what kind of binding, how many pages? For an in-depth guide on pricing strategies check out this Shopify guide.

Pro-tip: Stick to round prices eg. $15 vs. $15.63. It gives the appearance of a more premium product.

Selling colouring pages

If you don’t have the volume of work necessary to publish an entire book, or you don’t have the time or skillset to layout an entire book, you can consider selling individual or groups of looseleaf pages or digital pages. This is also a less financially risky option and lets you assess demand for your art in the form of colouring pages before committing to the time and effort needed to do an entire book.

Digital colouring pages

The pros of selling digital colouring pages–whether as a set or individually–are that you won’t need to worry about fulfilment or shipping costs. The lack of shipping cost also means that your customers get more value for their money meaning they’re an easier sell. The downside is obvious. You’ll have to release high-resolution files of your work to the public and run the risk of them being stolen and resold.

Loose-leaf colouring pages

Another option is to sell loose-leaf (unbound) colouring pages. These can be a tough sell, especially after adding shipping costs–don’t forget to charge for shipping packaging! You’ll want to make this a premium experience–high-quality paper that they can frame if they choose and waterproof ink so that the lines don’t run if they use a water-based medium.

Engage with your customer after the sale

Don’t end the relationship at the sale. A colouring book (or page) provides a great opportunity to connect with your customer–someone who obviously loves your art enough to want to colour it! Give them a hashtag to use when they complete the page and provide your socials. Then encourage them to @mention you and use the hashtag to share their completed piece!

But don’t stop there. Use your stories on Instagram to share completed pieces. Your customer will love seeing their work in front of your audience and your audience will be reminded you sell colouring pages!