Posted by: nancyisanders | March 25, 2008

Book In A Month Club! Make a Dummy Part 2

Now that you have made a blank book dummy from sheets of typing paper, it’s time to cut and paste the text of your manuscript onto the pages.

Once again, look at the picture books you are using for research while you target your publisher. Go slowly from page to page. Note how some pages have more text on them than others. Note how some 2-page spreads have one picture that covers both pages, while other 2-page spreads have a different picture on each page. There is a “weight” each 2-page spread has in a picture book and every spread should carry equal weight throughout the book. Each time you turn the page, it should be another defining moment.

Also note how much text fits onto each page. The amount of text on each page in a picture book is crucial. It can’t crowd out the picture too much. That’s why most 32-page picture books range from a total of about 800 to 1500 words. (Each publisher may vary slightly as to their preference and of course nonfiction picture books can have a much higher wordcount.)

You can’t just cut your manuscript text into equal portions and paste a different section on each page of your dummy.

It takes time…and thought…

There are different approaches you can take:
1. You can refer to the story map you made when your plotted the structure of your book according to Eve Heidi Bine-Stock’s book Volume I: Structure.
2. You can print out your picture book manuscript, tape all the pages together into one long sheet, spread the sheet out on a counter top or on the floor, and use a pencil to divide the manuscript into different sections until you have all the pages you need. Then you can cut out the different sections and tape each section onto the corresponding page of your book dummy.
3. You can just take a pencil and go through your manuscript and draw a line between obvious scenes. Count the number of scenes you have and then subdivide them by drawing in new lines until you have the number of scenes you need to fit into your picture book. Then you can cut out the different sections and tape each section onto the corresponding page of your book dummy.
4. You can cut out each separate sentence of your book manuscript. Then you can tape them here, move them there, and tape them again to the various pages of your dummy until it all fits.

Just a note! Most 32-page picture books start on page 3 and end on page 32. If you are targeting Sylvan Dell, however, most of their picture books start on page 3 and end on page 29. The last 3 pages of their books are filled with activities, which they normally write after your manuscript is accepted for publication. Be careful to adjust your book dummy to take that difference into account.

So grab your scissors and tape! Cut apart your manuscript and tape the text onto the pages of your book dummy until everything fits into place.


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