Posted by: nancyisanders | March 24, 2008

Book In A Month Club! Make a Dummy Part 1

Often I like to make a dummy, or prototype, of my picture book. I do not do this with the intention of submitting it to an editor, but for my own personal benefit. It really helps during the process of editing!

How can a dummy help? Creating a dummy of your picture book will help you know if your story carries the weight of a picture book–of if you have inadvertantly written a magazine story instead. It will help you detect weak spots in your manuscript and isolate key parts that need to be worked on as you polish your manuscript.

Plus, it’s important to know how to make a dummy. Why? Because for the rare time when an editor requests you submit a dummy (as I had an editor request this month) you won’t panic! You will have had practice and will already know how to make one. Besides, making a book dummy can be a fun process of writing a picture book. It helps bring 3-D dimension and life to your one dimensional manuscript. It gives you a book you can actually hold and turn the pages as you read the story you have created.

Find a published 32-page picture book with numbered pages to follow as you construct the dummy. It will help as a point of reference.

To make your own dummy, follow these steps:
1. Stack 18 sheets of typing paper.
2. Staple the stack along the left side of the spine to resemble a book.
3. The front page and back page are the cover of the dummy, just like the front and back of a picture book. On the front write the title of your picture book. Underneath it, write your name.
4. The inside of the first page is the inside of the cover of the dummy. Leave this blank.
5. The second piece of typing paper is actually page 1 of the dummy. Do not write a number on this page. Page 1 of a picture book is usually the title page, so write the title of your manuscript on this page and write your name as the author.
6. Turn the page. The back of the title page is page 2 of the dummy. Do not write a number on this page. Page 2 of a picture book is usually the copyright page, so write the copyright notice followed by the current year followed by your name. For example: (c) 2008 Nancy I. Sanders.
7. The next sheet of typing paper is page 3 of the dummy. Write the number 3 at the bottom center of the page.
8. Turn the page. Write the number 4 at the bottom of the center of the page on the left. Write the number 5 at the bottom of the center of the page on the right. You are now looking at a two page spread of pages 4 and 5.
9. Continue through the dummy and number every page from page 3-32. There will always be an even number on the left side of the two-page spread and an odd number on the right side. If you get confused, look at a 32-page picture book that has numbered pages and it will help you number the pages of your dummy correctly. For example:
4, 5
6, 7
8, 9
10, 11…
10. Page 32 will be on the left side of the next to the last sheet of typing paper in your dummy.
11. The right hand side after page 32 is actually the inside of the back cover of your dummy. Leave blank.
12. Check through the dummy to make sure you have numbered all the pages correctly from 3 to 32. Compare it to a 32-page picture book with numbered pages to make sure you have done it correctly.


Responses

  1. Although I don’t create a dummy for each of my picture books, I have found it really helps. I am able to see if each page stands on it own as far as keeping a child’s interest. By doing this, I have seen how certain pages have nothing really interesting or might be difficult for an illustrator to create a picture for.

  2. Yes, Gloria, that’s the PERFECT reason to learn how to make a dummy!
    -Nancy


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