You may have heard this advice that making a dummy of your picture book manuscript is a great help. This helps to have a feeling of the story’s pace. It assists you to know how much dialogue and action have you envisioned for each page.
This dummy is neither for submission nor it is a final version of a manuscript. This is merely one step of revision, an influential step!
Making a dummy is supposed to be easy. Take 4 (or 8) white papers, fold them and write your manuscript on them.
I tried with the printed copy of my manuscript, scissors, and glue. Halfway through cutting sentences and gluing them to the white papers, I realized I needed to shorten the dialogue because it took four spreads! This meant I had the I made shout be trashed.
Then I tried with a pencil and an eraser. It was a significant development, however, it took me a while.
Then I thought of making an easily browsable digital dummy, something like grocery store catalogs. I don’t know about the USA but they are very popular here in Germany, both printed and online copies. There are apps to check these weekly catalogs.
I thought there should be a website that offers catalog-making services. A quick google search brought me a long list but I wanted FREE software. Anyway, I found one: Issuu (free for one user, with an unlimited number of uploads).
You just need to upload a paginated PDF or a DOC file and many more formats. The website accepts uploads from the computer and from a cloud service (Google Drive and Dropbox).
In less than one minute, your digital dummy is ready. You can re-upload the manuscript countless times.
Another advantage is that you can PUBLISH the dummy and share its link. I found it useful when I want to ask my critique partners’ opinions! They can see my envisioned manuscript.
For my non-fiction manuscripts, I added photos or pictures for each spread. Or, I wrote descriptions. This was a great help to envision a balance between text and image/illustration.
Here is the PDF file I used to create this dummy.
I write blog posts about the craft of writing picture books regularly. The list of the previous posts is on the PictureBookPedia. Also, I publish a quarterly newsletter that includes links to my recent blog posts
This is awesome Nakisha. I can’t wait to try it out
Please let me know how your try goes on.
Thanks for your advice. Are you saying that you would not send your published link from your dummy to share with literary agents once you had completed a dummy?
Trying to figure out how to properly submit my dummy with is complete in my hand by not digitally… =/
It depends. My primary reason to make a dummy is to check the pace, Narrative Structure and possible illustrations of my manuscript. If an agent or an editor requests the dummy, of course I would submit the dummy’s link (when I am done with revision).