Monday, August 19, 2013

Picture Book Workshop #27: Whipping That Dummy Together

Once you have your sketches and text, it's time to put them together into dummy book form.

Years ago, when I first started, I would make an actual paper book.

Now, I usually send a PDF dummy.

They both begin the same, with the "putting together" part, so I'll start there.

First thing you need to do is scan the images into your computer.  (Note, I do everything on Photoshop and I have my own scanner.  If I lost you on "Photoshop", you can do everything super old school at Kinkos with cut out text and Invisible tape.  But it is 2013.  And if you're making a dummy book, you should probably have some kind of photo editing/art program on your computer.  So I'm just going to go ahead with my standard procedure.)

Once everything is scanned in, you add the text. 

Sketch with text from MONKEY ONO

RANDOM NOTE:  Let me add that 85 - 90% of the dummy is pencil sketching.  You'll want to include a few pieces of color art, but only a few.  So much of this will change.  Do nice sketches, but know that the project is still fluid at this point.

If I'm going to print this out like a paper book, I format the pages to be 8" X 10", because that's what my printer can do.  Then I carefully print up one page, flip it, insert it back into the printer, and print the next page on the other side.

It's good to work slowly and carefully during this process, so you don't accidentally print one page upside down or get them out of order - which is all very easy to do.

Anticipate that you will notice some mistakes when you look at a printed page.  Maybe there's a small typo or you dropped the quotes or something.  If you can fix it NEATLY with a pen, go ahead.  For example, you can easily add a period in, no problemo.  But if you can't, it's worth it to fix the problem on the computer and reprint.  You want to hand in something as professional looking as you can.  It means using more good paper (did I mention you should print on good quality paper with as high a brightness number as you can get) and using more ink (which isn't cheap) but do it.  Seriously, do it.

Then, when all the pages are ready to go, head down to Kinkos or Staples and get it bound.

Here are some photos of one of the earlier dummies for WINK, THE NINJA WHO WANTED TO BE NOTICED.  A lot changed.  Some things stayed the same.

(Above) You can't see it, but there's a nice clear cover on the front and a nice black plastic cover on the back.  Keeps all the paper nice and neat. 

(Below) Most of the pages will look something like this: all pencil sketch with printed text.  When you are laying a picture book out, it's fine to be messy with your sketching, but by the time you're ready to show it, you want things to be neat.

Here's a two-page spread that shows what the finished color illustrations would look like.  (Let me note for the complete newbies that this is not an original piece of art that I've put in a book.  I scanned the art into the computer, just like the sketched.  Everything in a dummy book is a copy.)


Do the best you can with text placement.  Look at other books if you're confused.  If your book gets picked up, choosing the font and placing the text will all be something the publisher does.  They may want to move things around and ask you to re-compose a scene.  Stay cool.  Stay fluid.  Do your best and don't sweat it.

Now, if you're making a digital PDF dummy book, it's a little different.

I usually try to fit four pages on a sheet, like so ...

Dummy book pages for MONKEY ONO

You'll want to make sure that you go through each page and read it out loud.  For some reason (and maybe it's just me) it's so much easier to miss mistakes on the computer than on paper.  It helps if I read it out loud.  Sometimes I'll have Magoo read it and he'll notice things.  (He recently noticed that I forgot to print a whole page out in a dummy book.  Oops.)

RANDOM TIP:  Add page numbers!  This really helps when an agent or editor is talking to you about a specific page.  I occasionally forget, and then my agent wants to strangle me.  :)

When I have all my digital pages ready, I go into a program called LibreOffice and put them into a power point, then save as a PDF.  If you don't know how to make a PDF with your computer, I'd suggest Googling it.  I'm not really a "computer girl" but I have learned that if you type in specific words and are patient, you can find directions to everything on the internet.

If I can do it, you can do it.

Nowadays, it seems like most people want something digital.  It saves paper and people don't have to keep things in real files.  But if you're in the cold-call submission process, you'll want to find out if someone would rather have a paper dummy book or a digital dummy book.  Also, in addition to a dummy book, always send a manuscript.  It's easier for people to make notes in a text file than on images.

ONE LAST TIP:  Make sure your contact information is SOMEWHERE on that dummy.  What if it goes stray at a conference and an editor picks it up and loves it, but doesn't know who made it.  ACK!  Disaster!  Whip your name and email on that puppy!

Good luck!  Have a great week!


Mirka Breen said...

I just *LOVE* seeing how illustrations come to the page, and how they mix with words.

Julie_c said...

Thanks so much, Mirka!