How To: Set Up a Picture Book

For those of you looking to write a picture book, it helps to know how these books are set up for publication. From page count to layout, picture books are quite a bit different from your average story. Take a look at the guidelines below to start on the right foot.

Pagination

  • The average picture book is 32 pages. Some are 24, some are 48, and on occasion you can go as high as 64.
    • You’ll notice those numbers are all multiples of 8, and that’s because printers print in “signatures” of 8, 16, or 32 pages. Learn more about signatures here.
  • Having a 32-page book doesn’t mean you get the full 32 pages. At least two pages will likely be needed for the title page and the copyright, and you may also have to incorporate a half title page or a dedication.
  • Endsheets (the colored or printed pages at the beginning and end of a book) do not generally factor into your page count. They are added separately and are usually produced on slightly different paper than the rest of the book.
  • Most picture books are laid out in spreads, aka a left and right page. Spreads are used in order to create larger, more vivid artwork.
    • Fun fact: It also helps save time and money, since it is usually less expensive and time-consuming for an illustrator to do a spread than two separate pieces (one for the left page and one for the right).

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