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Creating Digital Dummies

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Z-cat

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Hey folks!

I was wondering if anyone has any advice or thoughts on putting together a PB dummy in a digital format. I have made a few traditional paper versions in my day, but I've never made one that was meant to be viewed strictly digitally.

Is anyone doing this? Or is it easier/more practical/ more standard to have a link to the dummy somewhere (secure) online? If you're an author/illustrator querying agents, what's the preferred method of sending a dummy?


Any thoughts at all would be much appreciated!

#1 - December 13, 2012, 10:28 AM

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Hi Lindsey,

I used to sub with physical book dummies and ship them via FedEx. Boy,... was that a pricey route! Now,... I'm far more efficient.

I like to create digital dummies and create a google site for it for editors to view. I think this is better than sending along a big PDF file. Plus, if you use Statcounter, you could keep track of who's looking once you've sent it out. Now... google site isn't secure (but it's free!). I know of other authors/illustrators that uses Wordpress I think, and you'd have to provide a password to view it. Think that's free too. I'm not very tech savvy so I do what I know how to do. ;-) And unless someone has that exact link, it's not searchable in google, I don't think... so I haven't had any problems with security issues even with the non-secure site.

Good luck!

#2 - December 13, 2012, 10:44 AM
« Last Edit: December 13, 2012, 10:47 AM by SYoon »

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Oh... and for more specific thoughts, Lindsey,... what I do is create a spread by spread view of an entire picture book (or novelty), starting from the cover, end papers, title page, and all spreads with full text in place, complete sketches, and many samples of color art. (in some cases, I finished the entire book with color--- like Kaleidoscope's submission dummy) I go a bit beyond what is necessary for a submission. And I don't think it's always a good idea,... since even if they loved it, there could be a good chance of having to revise most of it. In my case, I don't mind revising/changing the art from what I did at submission stage. It's my choice. But I hesitate to tell others to practically complete a picture book dummy when that's not really industry standard. For me, going beyond the standard has helped... and may help others to know. (that said,... I still have lots of unsold completed dummies hibernating in my computer)

So... my advice is to make it appear as close to the final product as possible. I'm a firm believer of covers selling. Title must be striking, and so does the cover image. (it makes the first impression w/ the editor) Even though you may not be the designer of that book if it is acquired, do your best job in making it a striking cover--- so the editors can imagine it in their catalogs!

The dummy has to sell itself... so give it all she needs to do that!
#3 - December 13, 2012, 10:59 AM

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Salina's advice is great.

I use a free wordpress site and I used to use the password option, but now I just block search engines and provide the link. I also have a PDF version on standby just in case.



#4 - December 13, 2012, 11:05 AM
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
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I make a pdf of all the pages and send it. I liked making it on paper better, but that's just because it usually takes 3-4 tries to make the pdf work AND be small enough to email.
#5 - December 13, 2012, 12:22 PM
Site - http://sruble.com
Twitter - http://twitter.com/StephanieRuble

picture book: EWE AND AYE (now available as an ebook!)

Z-cat

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Thank you thank you thank you!!

Now I know where to start  :yay

One more question - if you have say a wordpress site, is it for all your dummies, or just one project at a time?


Stephanie - It seems like I always have huge file issues. Totally understand about making it fit!

Artemesia - that's really good to know! I suppose it's handier without the password. I know how much less frustrating blogger was to use when most bloggers got rid of that encrypted password nonsense in the comments.

Salina - That's my plan! In the project I'm working on right now, color and design are very important in the concept of  the art, so instead of black and white drawings, I'm doing water color sketches in full color. And then the finished pieces will demonstrate what those sketches will look like cleaned up. I hope it has the right effect! Maybe it's just too weird. But I'm trying it anyway!

I will say I that although the physical dummies were fun to make and great to have and see as a whole object, I think I'm really liking this digital option we have now. Making those big dummies was so, so, so time consuming, and expensive to mail.
#6 - December 14, 2012, 06:24 AM

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Lindsey, another benefit to digital dummies vs. physical dummies is that you could send to a lot more places all at once! I used to be a hardcore physical dummy maker.  :grrr  I even have a room just for that purpose (and still build occasionally, for novelties)... and besides the expense, the crazy hours put into one dummy usually goes to just one targeted house. If they pass, the dummy would be returned, but never in the pristine condition in which it was sent. (I even buff out fingerprints before I ship.) I hate sending out "used" dummies. Digital keeps it new for everyone!

Digital dummies opened much more submission possibilities. It's also beneficial to the publisher because they're able to share the link easily with other decision makers, including people overseas and out of state. (Some houses here may have a parent company out of the country) I tracked one dummy that got views from 3 different countries from about 8 different people (including 2 different states) before the project was acquired. It's a helpful tool-- to actually see interest at real time.

Your project sounds exciting!  :goodluck
#7 - December 14, 2012, 06:50 AM

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Stephanie, about PDF files. I'm no techy by any means. Don't even know how to use my smart phone properly, but I seem to have found a good solution to the super high PDF file size.

Do you use InDesign and export to a PDF file? There are settings to make it for web only and "small"... and at the end, the pdf looks great and the size is significantly smaller than if I created the pdf's without going through InDesign. What program do you use to make the PDF file?

(Though if they are straight Illustrator files, then I found that the file sizes were pretty small. no need to go through InDesign for straight illustrator files converted to pdf's)

If you're not following, feel free to PM me. Or.. if you're doing this already and the file size is still over 6 megs,... then I guess it's just really big!  (Also, I found creating PDF's with photoshop images placed in Illustrator, and converting to PDF files makes it ginormous.) 
#8 - December 14, 2012, 07:03 AM

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Lindsey, when I queried agents I put all my projects on the wordpress site, the titles on a menu labeled "Dummy & WIPS", and on each additional project page I had a short pitch (like you would for a query) and either a color sample or character sketches or a storyboard. I put the direct dummy link in the query with a mention that I had other work they could view on the site. My agent really liked the dummy I queried with, but it was one of the other projects with just a few character sketches that she got really excited about. She requested that ms and one other, and then offered rep. So it's definitely not the only way to do it, but having additional work on the site worked well for me.
#9 - December 14, 2012, 09:22 AM
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

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Salina, I do my work in Photoshop. So the trick is to figure out what size and resolution the jpg need to be so that they're large enough to look really good, but small enough to make an email-able pdf. It works, just takes some trial and error.
#10 - December 15, 2012, 09:05 AM
Site - http://sruble.com
Twitter - http://twitter.com/StephanieRuble

picture book: EWE AND AYE (now available as an ebook!)

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Stephanie,... you can skip that entire step of figuring out sizes/resolution!!! I totally know what you're doing because I did the same thing... until I learned how to use InDesign for exporting PDF's in one simple step using high-res photoshop art.

Let me give you an example: I had to create a send-able PDF of my 40 page picture book dummy.

The art files were at 400 dpi (Photoshop), and with 20 spreads, a total of a whopping 500 MB's. I did not want to re-size everything to make PDF's. With InDesign, you don't have to.

The full-resolution art was placed in InDesign, with full text. Save it. Then you go to FILE, EXPORT, select Acrobat PDF, then select SMALLEST FILE SIZE (in the Adobe PDF preset bar), check "Optimize for Fast Web View", press "EXPORT"... and bam. A small pdf file with very good images.

My 500 MB Photoshp file turned into a 2.9 MB PDF file. It literally took a few clicks and a few seconds. No need for separate hi-res versions and low-res versions of art files!

Happy to help you try this... if none of this makes sense. Just email or PM me, if you want a step by step, or a sample of that PDF.
#11 - December 15, 2012, 09:35 AM
« Last Edit: December 15, 2012, 09:44 AM by SYoon »

Artemesia--I love your idea of putting all your projects on one site. I'm putting it at the top of my to do list in Jan!
#12 - December 15, 2012, 10:37 AM
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I'm fairly new to this process and definitely do not have as much experience as Salina or Arte but I figure that any input may be helpful so I'll share my process as well.

I draw traditionally using pen, ink, paper, etc. so after I completed the illustrations I scanned them into my computer. The resolution I use is typically 300dpi/grayscale though higher resolution is never a bad idea. I then created a spread by spread version of the PB using photoshop and the scanned traditional drawings. I included 3-4 "finished" pieces and the remaining illustrations are polished pencil renderings/sketches. I then posted the dummy on my site. It's an all-encompassing site for my illustration work so I simply created a new page specifically for my PB dummies to provide a link in my submissions. I even went as far as to implement designs/layouts for the spreads where I feel the illustrations and word placement could/should be. Of course you have to be more than open to revisions so I'm not married to any one idea. I feel though that it at least shows you have a sense of how PB's are designed and have done some research/homework.

Good luck Lindsey!
#13 - December 15, 2012, 04:42 PM
http://alexschumacherart.com/
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AJ, I agree. The more like a finished book the dummy is, the easier it is for an editor to envision it as a real published book! I do up a fully designed color cover (front, back and spine) and 3-4 color interiors, the rest polished sketches, and I place the text in all the spreads. I even include the front matter. Part of my background is graphic design and prepress, so I'm a bit of a typography nerd. I don't go too overboard as I know in the end I won't be the book designer, but I want it to look clean and professional, so I carefully choose my fonts.
#14 - December 15, 2012, 06:01 PM
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

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Z-cat

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This is super crazy helpful!

Especially the InDesign suggestion. I have it, haven't really used it much, but I have certainly had the way-too-big-file problem many a time. 


Off to do some scanning and practice creating some files!
#15 - December 18, 2012, 03:38 PM

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Lindsey, if you have trouble with the InDesign thing, you can PM me. It's the best thing I learned from that program, thanks to another BBer/friend! (Mels... thanks so much!) I use it often when sharing my progress with my editors. And with InDesign, if you update your photoshop file, InDesign can automatically update the files without you having to do it manually. Then, you can make a new updated PDF with just a few clicks (again, without having to replace files manually). LOVE that function so much!!!
#16 - December 18, 2012, 03:53 PM

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SO jealous, SYo. I used to have Quark 6 (on my poor tired old near-dead mac), but would really love to get InDesign. Well, the whole Creative Suite, really. Muddling along with just PS right now.

:ballchain:
#17 - December 18, 2012, 05:28 PM
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

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I'll share mine, Arte. You know that.  :hug

The young people  :chickendance (spring chickens) probably don't even know what Quark is!  :old  But yup,... used that too!
#18 - December 19, 2012, 08:42 AM

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 :love4: SYo is the bestest.
#19 - December 19, 2012, 09:17 AM
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

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I have so many questions! I only have a horrible, no-good, rotten, but free, word processing program right now. I, too, have a design background, but am suffering without a good program to work with. In the past I have used Quark, Photoshop, and Illustrator. Which one would be most helpful for putting dummies together? I am going to buy one TONIGHT! I just mailed out a dummy with taped-on titles because I didn't have the means to do it otherwise and I had a major breakdown over the fonts.
#20 - December 01, 2014, 02:30 PM
CAPTAIN CRAB'S ABC (in the submission process)
https://www.facebook.com/DreamofSkyArt?ref=bookmarks

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Also, I created my first book with my sister, but I will be writing and illustrating others by myself. Should I create a Wordpress in my name only or one for both of us?

I know it is a personal decision, but I am so torn.

Thanks in advance!
#21 - December 01, 2014, 03:02 PM
« Last Edit: December 01, 2014, 03:05 PM by jenny-bayon »
CAPTAIN CRAB'S ABC (in the submission process)
https://www.facebook.com/DreamofSkyArt?ref=bookmarks

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I'm subscribing to Adobe Creative Cloud. You pay $50 a month and get everything (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and a ton more) or you can pay a lump sum for the year. Or you can pay $20 a month for a single program. I think they only do by subscription now.

I learned on Quark too, but InDesign (Adobe's layout program) is really easy if you know Adobe programs (easier than Quark was to learn!). And they have a bunch of tutorials.

If you opt for one program only, Photoshop is probably best for dummies. Before I had the CS, I only had PS and got by.

As for the Wordpress site, I would advise making your own site for your solo work. You can always include a link to a site with your group work. Or you can just include a separate page for the book you did together. Not 100% sure about this, though.

I hope that helps!
#22 - December 01, 2014, 04:03 PM
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

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Thank you! Yes, I am looking into Creative Cloud right now. I have been raising babies for the last ten years, so I am not too tech savvy anymore. Do you go by Arte or Cyndi? :)
#23 - December 01, 2014, 05:28 PM
CAPTAIN CRAB'S ABC (in the submission process)
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Most people here call me Arty. I'm thinking of seeing if I can get my husband to as well, lol. I spend so much time here I'm more likely to answer to Arty!

The Cloud is great! I hope it works for you!
#24 - December 01, 2014, 06:00 PM
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
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