Nancy's Books

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Importance of a Picture Book Dummy

I had a request for a blog about the importance of creating a picture book dummy. Here’s my take on the subject:

Picture books should be written with page breaks in consideration. Most have 32 pages but with front and back matter only 27-28 pages are used for text, sometimes less. That leaves about 13-14 double-page spreads of illustrations and text.
When writing, take advantage of the page breaks. Possibility ways to use them is to surprise the reader when the page is turned. Vary the action so each double-page spread has a different scene and new action. One way I do this is to write the story; then divide it into 14 scenes. Of course, I have to revise, revise, revise to get the pacing I need within the story segments. Some scenes may have too many words. My goal is to write 600 words or less for fiction.
I also make a book dummy by folding 8 sheets of computer paper in half and stapling it. Front and back, the pages number 32. I print my completed manuscript, cut it with scissors and tape the text into the appropriate pages. The dummy helps me “see” where the story does not work, where I need to rev up the surprises on page turns, and the pace of the story. Maybe it’s too slow in some parts.
I never submit a dummy or a manuscript with page breaks to a publisher unless it is specifically requested by the editor. Most publishers want standard format for submissions.
So, envision your manuscrpt as a picture book by creating a dummy and get one step closer to a contract. Page turns can make or break a story.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Parallel Ink. An international online literary and art publication for and by students from 12-18 years old. Seeks creative and critical work that can be represented in digital forms: poetry, music, art of any medium, narratives, essays, book/song/movie reviews, multimedia, etc. Their staff is comprised of over twenty teen editors, translators, illustrators, and technology assistants around the world.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Babybug– A monthly (except for combined May/June and July/August issues) listening and looking magazine for infants and toddlers ages six months to two years published by the Cricket Magazine Group of Carus Publishing. Looking for very simple and concrete stories, 4 to 6 short sentences maximum; rhythmic and rhyming poetry, 8 lines maximum. Allow 6 months for reply.
Submission guidelines at

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