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Should I try to eliminate pages? Help for a newbie

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jdmutters

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I have a 333 word picture book that, when completed on a storyboard, came out to 36 pages.  I understand that standard size is 32 pages.  Should I try to cut down the number of pages by eliminating text?  Should I proceed with submitting it at this length and let the agent/editor worry about the layout and cutting words?  I have seen things that say not to worry about being off a few pages as long as the word count is not an issue.  Any help is greatly appreciated because I am not sure what to do.  Thanks!

JD Mutters
#1 - January 24, 2014, 12:39 PM

Hi JD,

Why are you storyboarding your manuscript? Are you the illustrator?

You would submit your manuscript in typed form, not in storyboard form, not broken into page breaks or suggested line breaks or any of that.  Type your story in the normal straightforward way.  Regular margins, double-spaced, etc.

Publishers do not want to see how you personally would board or space out the text.  They will decide that themselves.

Good luck with your submission!

#2 - January 24, 2014, 01:18 PM

jdmutters

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I am not the illustrator.  I know that I would submit the manuscript in typed form without any breaks.  I storyboarded it because the style that the book is written suggests page breaks at fairly obvious places.  I guess I should have included that in the original message. 

So then it looks like I should just work on getting the manuscript critiqued more and not worry about the page breaks.

I am still somewhat ignorant concerning the process, if you couldn't tell.  Any help is always greatly appreciated.

Thanks Kelly!





#3 - January 24, 2014, 02:14 PM

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I also storyboard/dummy my PBs but I was very surprised when I asked an illustrator in our critique group to do one for me ... he had a slightly different vision for the beginning and end and it was WAY better!!! So I'd let the editor, illustrator, and art director take care of it. Just make it the best story possible. But I always do this for myself just to see what the page turns might be like.

Good luck, Vijaya

#4 - January 24, 2014, 02:35 PM
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jdmutters

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Vijaya,

That definitely makes a lot of sense.  I am now gonna leave the story as it is and just get some more critiquing then send it out.  Thanks for the perspective.

JD
#5 - January 24, 2014, 04:56 PM

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My son is a professional illustrator. Believe me when I say that authors do not necessarily know the best layout for their books. Illustrators bring a whole new (and often better) approach.
#6 - January 25, 2014, 02:29 PM

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I also storyboard even though I'm not an illustrator. It helps me look at the flow from sentence to sentence, and can give me an indication if I am dwelling on one aspect of the story (or the same setting, for example) too much. But then, of course, my submission will be back in the standard format.
333 words is a good length. Have you had some critique partners look at the ms? If your ms is the best you can make it, I think it can be submitted as is. However, if you think there is still some scope for revision and refinement, you can keep the page numbering in the back of your mind as you go.
#7 - January 25, 2014, 07:09 PM
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Not only do I dummy the manuscript, but I have heard that agents and editors appreciate receiving manuscripts with breaks where the page breaks would be. I've heard it more than once. They won't assume it is the only acceptable way to lay out the manuscript.

I have only submitted one piece with the page breaks in place because I can see more than one way of splitting my other manuscripts. This one is for a toddler audience and has very few words with lots of repetition.

I dummy the manuscripts because if I can't get it to fit the 32 page format, I can't be sure anyone else will. Also, page breaks have to make the reader want to turn the page. They matter a lot to the overall book.
#8 - January 26, 2014, 06:15 PM
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Dummying out the manuscript definitely is helpful for a writer even if they're not an illustrator! But it's not necessary to show it this way to your editor. A good story should come through in a straight typed out ms--even without the breaks shown.

Also, just want to say that each and every one of my last 5 picture books---and the next 3 scheduled--- are 40 page picture books. I actually wanted to make them 32 pages (because I'm lazy--and wanted to illustrate less), but my editors (from two separate houses) felt that I needed additional pages in the books I wrote. (text itself is between 200-350 words)

Write what it needs! And you'd be surprised at how an illustrator's input can change the breaks in a manuscript if your ms is acquired! Even if you think it's a 36 page book, an illustrator can easily make it 32. (by using multiple spot illustrations on a single page instead of breaking them up in separate pages, for example, or combining two scenes into one.)

Good luck!
#9 - January 26, 2014, 06:32 PM

jdmutters

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Thank you all so much for your valuable input.  I too feel like dummying my manuscript definitely has some benefits.  I have decided to keep the text that I have.  I am now looking for more people to critique the manuscript before sending it out.  Thanks again!

JD Mutters
#10 - January 26, 2014, 07:15 PM

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Also, while they say 32 pages you don't actually get them all. You only have 24 pages since 8 are used for the book ends, copyright and title. And 24 pages translates to 12 spreads (an illustration that spans the two opened pages in a book).
Or I have seen a version of 1 page, 12 spreads, then one end page.
 
Some examples of layouts:
 
http://taralazar.com/2009/02/22/picture-book-construction-know-your-layout/
http://thepioneerwoman.com/blog/2011/04/twenty-steps-to-writing-a-childrens-book/
#11 - February 14, 2014, 12:42 PM
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It is helpful to page out/dummy a story when you are writing it, but the illustrator may do it differently, and your page count might not be 32 pages. Also, there's different ways to page out a 32 page book (end papers or no end papers change the page count).

So, if you're not illustrating and doing a storyboard or dummy helps, go for it! But just know that the illustrator might pace it differently, or the publisher might have a different page count or layout than you do.

For reference, the book I just illustrated is 40 pages, plus a gatefold, so it works out to 44 pages. Also, the end papers and back cover tell part of the story, so every page is used, and there's very little text (don't have actual count, but I think it's under 100 words, and a good portion of that text is the names of the two characters).
#12 - February 15, 2014, 03:09 PM
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I know this is old...

But generally speaking, I would be very wary of eliminating pages for the sake of eliminating pages. Modifying a 36-page story to a 32-page story is, to me, a different story.

In this example, it changes the midpoint of the book from pg 18 to pg 16. To preserve the natural midpoint and pacing, every page probably has to be modified.
#13 - June 22, 2014, 12:17 PM

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