Tag Archives: software

Submitting a PDF book dummy

Submitting a PDF book dummy

This is a companion post to Make a PDF book dummy the free, easy way.  That article talked about how to use the free page layout program Scribus to make a dummy. This will discuss how to submit or show a PDF book dummy to a publisher or agent.


Do make sure your target publisher or agent wants PDF book dummies and follow submission guidelines as to sending solicited or unsolicited work.

Do confirm that your email can accommodate the file size. For an emailable dummy, choose a low resolution when you export as PDF. 72 dpi is an appropriate size for the Web.

Do keep a high-resolution file of the dummy for printing. 300 dpi is print quality.

Do use Dropbox or a similar storage system if the file is too big for your email, and send the editor or agent the link. Or, you could put it on your Web site on a password-protected page and send the link and password. However, emaiing is best as it’s simpler for the recipient.

Do send your text ms along with the dummy, either as part of the PDF dummy at the end, or as a separate Word attachment. (This is a judgment call.)

If you have a book accepted that you will illustrate, the publisher will give you a layout to work with. They may want you to send revised PDF dummies as you go along. You can use Scribus for those, too.

With the accepted book, once the finished art is done, you will deliver each illustration as either original art or a high-res digital file, not as a dummy or book, though you will work with the layout, the publisher creates the final book.



Here are some things NOT to do when submitting a PDF book dummy.

Don’t use a fancy typeface or make a finished-looking product.

Don’t show more than 1-2 color pieces in your dummy. Most pages should be in black and white. Publishers like to have a lot of input. Don’t include a cover image unless asked, since the publisher will especially want to give feedback on the cover.

Don’t post your dummy on your site for the world to see or email it willy-nilly to friends. Take basic precautions by only sending when asked or expected. It’s OK to show some of it in your portfolio, maybe a few pages to show sequential art, and color work.

Remember that the editor can see the color pieces on-screen, but might print it out all in black and white (even at 72 dpi, it will print OK, but if you are submitting a print dummy, use the 300 dpi version). It is helpful to show color pieces on your site, either in your portfolio or on a password-protected page if you wish; you can send the editor/agent the password.

Good luck submitting your PDF book dummy!



Free writing software for picture books

OK, it’s not specifically MADE for that, but it is great free writing software for picture books. Text Block Writer, which breaks up texts into bite-sized chunks, is available on Cnet (link to program right below) as well as other places. Unfortunately, there’s no Mac version, only Windows.

Free Writing Software: Text Block Writer (on Cnet.com)

text block pro

Just imagine writing Moby Dick this way!

The program is virtual index cards. You can create small blocks of text and move them around. You can change block and text colors. The blocks have a scroll bar so you can fit a bit more text lengthwise into the block. You can move blocks around or toggle through hundreds of them, like a big stack of real index cards.

Though the program is aimed at writers of any kind, with its flexibility and appeal to visual people, I think it’s especially helpful for picture books and other short text, such as articles. For one thing, it helps you keep sentences short, which can be challenging.

It doesn’t allow for sketches, but that’s OK. I just like that there is not a big block of intimidating words staring at me or a whole page to fill up. It’s gentle and eases you into your writing, like sinking into a warm bath. Ahhhhhh.


Writer’s block? Try text blocks!


Writing out of order is an excellent way to break through writer’s block (I just realized the program has the word “block” in it! Freudian slip?).

Writing out of order creates new connections between ideas, stimulating creativity. It can be useful to work just on the middle of the story, or skip ahead to various parts, or to write one character at a time to really get to know that character. You can skip over areas of a story that are problematic, until the puzzle pieces fall into place. By moving blocks around, you can try different ways your story might go and visualize page turns.

I do sometimes use real paper index cards, but this brings the power of word processing into play. It’s also a fun right-brain activity. Stories are indeed like jigsaw puzzles. Authors must make the pieces fit perfectly.

There’s something really cool about being able to move the pieces around–to be the puppeteer! Would be nice if you could randomly reshuffle the blocks like in an Ipod Shuffle …

There’s no need to retype the story from the boxes. You can export the entire text into an .rtf document, which can be opened in Word and other word-processing programs. It’s fun to watch your story go from little pieces to an instant manuscript.

Remember– whenever you download software from a free site, go through the process slowly before hitting the download button. Often they will have boxes that are already checked where it says check box to download something else. If you don’t uncheck it, the site will often put annoying programs onto your computer, such as new search engines. Also, be sure you are downloading the right program as the sites will sometimes have ads that are misleading.

Reputable sites such as Cnet and Sourcefourge do check for viruses and malware, but even if not a virus or malware, the add-on programs can be irritating and hard to get rid of. But if you’re a little careful, you can get lots of great free writing software for Mac or Windows.

In short, you can write long or short. You’ll truly see the building blocks of your story.

It must be quite something to do a novel on this. Hmm, maybe I’ll try it someday.

Link again:

Free Writing Software: Text Block Writer (on Cnet.com)