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Questions about dummy pages

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 Hello.  I could use some advice about dummy pages.  I have 3 PB manuscripts that I would like to submit at the same time.  They are completely different stories with completely different layouts.  I have dummy pages for each of them.  Each dummy book has 32 pages, (after the front matter).  In order to have the most effective page turns, one dummy book has 1-3 sentences on each page, another has 1-5  very short sentences on each page, and the last dummy book has 3 -7 sentences on EVEN numbered pages only, leaving ODD numbered pages open for illustration.   So, two questions:
1. Do these sound like reasonable layouts?
2. Should I mention the dummy pages or indicate page breaks in my queries?
In case it makes a difference, I am querying agents only.
#1 - September 05, 2022, 01:00 PM

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Hi C.L.

I haven't noticed you mention that you're an illustrator before.

If you aren't, an agent would have no interest in a dummy. And if you aren't complete certain about the page breaks, you may not even need those.
#2 - September 05, 2022, 01:24 PM

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I'm not an illustrator.  It's been advised that writers make dummy pages for several reasons.  Visualizing how well a story could be illustrated helps a lot.  If you visualize the same scene on too many pages, you need to revise.  Dummy pages also help writers see how well a manuscript fits into the picture book format.  This tool has helped me revise my manuscripts so that any "cliff hangers" fall on the odd numbered pages so that readers have to turn the page to find out what happens.  It also helps me to see if the text can be evenly spread out throughout the book and still sound right. I have also found that, when reading out loud, the story sounds much different being read off a screen than it does when being read from pages that have to be turned.  One story in particular sounded good to me when I read it off of the computer.  Reading it from my dummy pages, I hate it.   It needs a lot more work than I thought.  I read somewhere that sometimes agents will request dummy pages from authors, without illustration.
#3 - September 05, 2022, 02:00 PM

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If you aren't an illustrator, doing dummies is useful for you in your creation (to make sure you have enough events in your story to illustrate a full book and maybe to examine pacing). Of course you don't want the text weirdly spaced across the page, but page breaks are more than simply counting up an evenly distributed number of words across the pages. Page breaks indicate change, new scenarios, places to add surprise or a twist or punchline. Those things are determined by plot and not just word count. So making a dummy can help a writer see thin parts of the story or places that drag, and they can revise accordingly. As you said, it can feel different when you are reading it off the computer and when you are reading it with actual page turns from a dummy. So as far as in writing, if it helps, go for it!

In submissions, though, unless you are the illustrator and are submitting illustrations, I would not mention or submit the dummy. Agents are used to seeing straight text and know what to do with it. They may sometimes suggest writers create a dummy for the purpose of writing/editing, but it's not something they need to see in a submission. An illustrator will make their own page breaks (which may or may not fall on the same lines of your practice dummy), so it's not like it would be used later on. The important point in your submission is that you came up with a strong story--no matter what you did to get there.
#4 - September 05, 2022, 02:43 PM

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Thank you.  That helps.
#5 - September 05, 2022, 03:26 PM

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Some agents do like to see breaks within a manuscript that show where page break might be, but this is far from all of them. In general, I wouldn't do it unless I saw an interview where an agent said they prefer it. An yes to everything olmue said.
#6 - September 05, 2022, 06:01 PM
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