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Picture book manuscript Pagination - HELP!

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Hello all,
I recently submitted a manuscript to a competition. In the manuscript, I paginated the story the way Carol Hinz does here - https://picturebookbuilders.com/2020/02/carol-hintz-talks-about-picture-book-pagination/ and the way Emma Quay did it .
https://emmaquay.com/blog/2018/7/3/how-i-present-a-picture-book-manuscript-to-publishers

I also paginated it according to the example manuscript given by a video uploaded by the competition. The only example they gave that had paragraphs was for a novel.

But today, I got told by an editor that I should NEVER submit a manuscript to an agent or publisher like this.

So now I'm panicking and majorly confused.
I've reviewed past posts in this forum and I am still seeing some debate on whether this was appropriate.

How have you all submitted your picture book manuscripts? Also, how do you format the manuscript into paragraphs, when one paragraph might be only a sentence? 

RANDOM EXAMPLE 1 (with pagination)
[Page 1]
Ducky was a duck that liked to duck.

[Page 2]
One day he met a cat that was very catty.


RANDOM EXAMPLE 2 (without pagination)
Ducky was a duck that liked to duck.
One day he met a cat that was very catty.

Please advise and forgive me for sounding like  a noob.
#1 - December 03, 2020, 10:08 AM

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Hi Miia,

First, congrats on doing research and finding blogs that provide helpful information! I'm curious as to the editor who told you to never submit a paginated manuscript? Is it a freelance editor or an editor at a publishing house?

I write picture books. I've submitted many of them. As a rule of thumb, as Carol Hinz said, most authors don't submit paginated manuscripts. However, as she note, she likes to see them that way, as I do know other editors and agents don't seem to mind. But I think the general advice is to NOT paginate them as it might appear you're trying to do the editor or the illustrator's job.

BUT, I think it is very wise for you to  WRITE your story that way. You want to be sure you can envision illustrations on each page spread. It's  a great way to build in great page turns. (I often indicate page turns with an . . .  then a new paragraph.) But most of the time I remove the page numbers before I submit. Occasionally I'll have a story where my agent asks to see the pagination so she could see my vision for the story if she wasn't quite "getting it."

So don't panic. It was just one editor's opinion. Most agents and editors just want an easy to read manuscript and if you submitted it that way, I can't imagine that most care that much. Just be sure that you're willing to be flexible if the book gets acquired - the editor and art director may change things up. They are the experts.

I hope this helps!
#2 - December 03, 2020, 10:25 AM
Freaky Funky Fish ( Running Press Kids, May 2021)
Tell Someone (Albert Whitman, October 2021)
Peculiar Primates (Running Press Kids, October 2022)

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Hi Miia,

First, congrats on doing research and finding blogs that provide helpful information! I'm curious as to the editor who told you to never submit a paginated manuscript? Is it a freelance editor or an editor at a publishing house?

I write picture books. I've submitted many of them. As a rule of thumb, as Carol Hinz said, most authors don't submit paginated manuscripts. However, as she note, she likes to see them that way, as I do know other editors and agents don't seem to mind. But I think the general advice is to NOT paginate them as it might appear you're trying to do the editor or the illustrator's job.

BUT, I think it is very wise for you to  WRITE your story that way. You want to be sure you can envision illustrations on each page spread. It's  a great way to build in great page turns. (I often indicate page turns with an . . .  then a new paragraph.) But most of the time I remove the page numbers before I submit. Occasionally I'll have a story where my agent asks to see the pagination so she could see my vision for the story if she wasn't quite "getting it."

So don't panic. It was just one editor's opinion. Most agents and editors just want an easy to read manuscript and if you submitted it that way, I can't imagine that most care that much. Just be sure that you're willing to be flexible if the book gets acquired - the editor and art director may change things up. They are the experts.

I hope this helps!


Thank you for talking me off the ledge. The editor is freelance but is also a published children's book author, so I figured they knew what they were talking about!

#3 - December 03, 2020, 10:31 AM

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Breathe. Deb has given you great advice. I always just write without pagination because it breaks the flow of the story but then I make a dummy to to see how it could be paginated, whether the page turns work, etc. For some projects, editors have asked for pagination and art notes, so I always deliver what is asked. However, when it's a cold submission, I submit the story double spaced. Good luck on your next submission.
#4 - December 03, 2020, 11:48 AM
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I submit double spaced with the first line of each paragraph indented. And yes, sometimes this means there is one line per paragraph. One word could even be a paragraph. That's all fine. (Look up standard manuscript format in SCBWI's The Book.)

But I also paginate for my own purposes. Sometimes I can even see two ways a book could be split up. This is fine. The key is knowing it can be done, not how it will work best (though that helps, I'm sure.) In the end, it's the illustrator and art director or designer who decide the final layout.

But doing so shouldn't be a deal breaker for you either, and especially not if you were following the video they sent.

Good luck with the contest.
#5 - December 03, 2020, 06:23 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
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Thank you for asking this! I was wondering the same thing. And congrats on taking the next step, Miia!
#6 - December 15, 2020, 05:39 AM

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like the other have said. I would not paginate but I would work it out for me. To find out where the page turners might be, whether a page would have too many words, and so on. But I don't think it would put off a publisher... at least I hope. And I would think it would show them that you know what's you're talking about, which is always a good thing.
Good luck with the contest.
#7 - December 27, 2020, 10:37 AM
MA in creative writing. Author of upper middle-grade novel and chocoholic and SCBWI member

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