Coloring book pages

The coloring book world saw an explosion last year, but not for children. Adults have become interested in coloring not only because it’s a fun and nostalgic activity, but also because it's a way to sooth and calm the mind. Coloring is scientifically proven to reduce stress. The process of coloring allows the brain to enter into a sort of meditative state that is different from the brainwaves produced when creating original artwork.

(1) Study Top Coloring Trends

There are a lot of different topics and concepts in the coloring book world right now. Check the coloring book offerings on our website to see a sample of what others are doing and which types of coloring books seem to be most popular right now. Searching for the top selling coloring books on Amazon is also a good way to see which topics are trending with adult coloring aficionados. If you want to create a coloring book that focuses on a popular topic, brainstorm how you will set yourself apart from other coloring book designers.

The adult coloring book market exploded in 2015 and it remains uncertain how long this trend will continue. As long as adults are still buying coloring books, there will continue to be a demand for them. It is certainly more difficult to pitch a coloring book now than it was a several months ago. There are so many artists proposing adult coloring books at the moment, so the competition is fierce.

(2) Brainstorm Different Concepts

If you want to catch the attention of book publishers, you need to stand out from the crowd of proposals with a unique style or concept. Think about what types of subjects or themes you are good at drawing and make a list of ways you can turn your talents into a coloring book. You definitely need a cohesive theme, but there are several other things to take into consideration. Do you want to have a cohesive story, or images that center on the same theme or style? Do you want to create completely abstract symmetrical patterns, elaborate landscapes, mythical creatures, humans or scenes that contain several of these things?

When designing a coloring book, you need to spend a lot of time thinking about how positive and negative space interact. You need to think about what the finished product would look like after someone has colored in your designs. Some coloring books are very intricate and have many small areas to fill in, but some are bolder with large areas that coloring book fans can fill with patterns or gradients.

(3) Start Sketching

You can draw your coloring book by hand or on the computer using an electronic sketching pad (ex: Bamboo pad). If you draw by hand, you may want to scan your drawings to a computer document and manipulate the contrast or other aspects of the drawings before printing or submitting the files. You’ll definitely want to scan any hand drawn coloring books scenes and either print them or email them. Hold onto your originals! Some publishing companies may want a hard copy of your proposal mailed in to them; some may want an electronic submission. 

(4) Create a Proposal, Send It and Prepare for Rejections

You need to be able to describe to publishers why your coloring book is unique, and more importantly why it will sell. Be straightforward and to the point in your proposal. A one page proposal is plenty. You should include several of your drawings and may want to include a couple copies that are filled in with color to show how awesome the finished product will look.

Different publishers may have different requirements for submitting proposals. It is important to be polite yet persistent, because you WILL get rejected a lot. If you get rejected from one publisher, try another or redesign your proposal and resubmit. Always follow submission guidelines. If publishers do not list guidelines on their sites, you may or may not be able to call and ask. Scroll to the end of this article for a list of links to publishers!

(5) Try Self-Publication

You could also publish the book yourself. If you decide to self-publish after getting rejected by publishing companies, it just means that you have more experience in the process if you try to pitch a book to publishers again! There are many self-publishing websites you can send your images and text to. We don’t know which sites are best but, , and are some excellent places to start. One important thing to keep in mind about this is that the quality of the paper may not be the same as some high quality coloring books that art stores carry. Most of these companies specialize in trade style books like novels and coffee table books with photos. Whatever you do, make sure you make a book that has uncoated paper. You will probably want to select oversized “trade paperback” or something similar for your book type on most of these sites. You don’t want to publish your coloring book drawings in a book with shiny, magazine style paper because you’ll never get mediums to adhere to the page properly. 

Whether you are simply interested in the process and pleasure of creating a coloring book on your own, or you want to try and sell your book locally, self-publication is a great option. A self-made coloring book paired with a set of colored pencils would make a truly unique gift for loved ones. You can give your book to friends, just make copies for yourself and your family, or talk to a local store owner about carrying your book. If you’re into bookbinding or don’t care about the cover, you could even make photo copies or LaserJet prints and compile a little booklet yourself for some serious DIY.

Publishers Who Sell Adult Coloring Books:

Andrews McMeel Publishing LLC 

Design Originals

Do Magazine

Dover Publications 

Fox Chapel Publishing 

Global Doodle Gems 

Harper Collins Publishers

Little, Brown and Company

North Light Books

Penguin Random House


Peter Pauper Press

Quarto Publishing Group

Running Press Book Publishers

Sterling Publishing