Making a Picturebook Dummy

I write my books on my computer, scan in the illustrations and bring everything into Quark, a bookmaking program. I then print out my book so it looks clean with the illustration and text on one page. If you don't work on the computer, make a copy of your book. You definitely do not want to be working with your original...mistakes DO happen!

1- Use poster board for your pages and two separate pieces of white (on both sides) cardboard for your covers. Count out your pages, and make the covers slightly larger than the pages (this protects the pages better).

2-Make them flush at the spine and clip together with a few of those big black clips so they can't move around.

2A- Important stage that I forgot: Take the pages of your book and slip them into their proper places of the skeleton where you plan to glue them. I hate doing this, but I've made enough mistakes to know it's a worthwhile case you forget a page. Take them out before next step.

3- Take about 6 nails (depending on size of book) and hammer them about 1/2" in from the outer edge of the spine. This will be the binding. It helps if you hammer into a board, then you can leave the nails in until you're done and it will help hold the pages together.

4-Take out nails, and take clips off. Then flip the top cover over. With a ruler, score the inside of the cover with a blade. Do it about an inch from the outer edge. This is to make the book lay flat. Do same to back cover.

5-Return covers to ORIGINAL position on pages (The holes won't line up otherwise.)

6- Get a big 'ole needle and thread it with white embroidery thread. Sew the heck out of the thing. I usually do three times up and back with different stitches.

7- Neatly put white duct tape over the thread, covering the whole spine.

8- Re-place the pages of your book into the properly corresponding dummy pages. I use Super 77 spray glue...the permanent stuff. The moveable glue is a hassle because pages start peeling up. To make it easier on myself, I usually trim the 8 1/2" x 11" pages of the book so they'll easily fit on each dummy page.

9- Spread out a bunch of newspaper and take out the first 6 pages, placing them face down (in the same order every time). Spray them all. Then one by one, place them in ascending order, into the dummy. Having the pages in there already helps to avoid gluing the wrong pages in the wrong place.

I put a color copied cover for excitement, and depending on the story, perhaps the last spread. But no more than that. You don't want a prospective editor to think you're married to the thing...a dummy is a blueprint for the book it will become.

--Katie Davis

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