How many pages is 32 pages really?

  • When sitting in on the writing class that SVS did a month or so ago (loved it btw) they mentioned that first time writers are considered a risk, and are usually given a 32 page limit because of cost. So I set out to write my first book with that limit in mind, but then came to wonder if both front and back of one physical page equate to two pages. Does anyone know the answer to this?

  • SVS OG

    Short answer - yes front and back of a physical page equates to two pages.

    If you're thinking of writing your own book, you will probably find a storyboard layout sheet really useful when working out how to tell the story...these are kinda standard hand-outs in every 'real life' children's book class I've done. You can plan out the page turns and so on.


    In the last week-long residential class I did, where our target was to make our own dummy books within a week, we were taught to plan our art/story over 12 spreads, and to make two spreads worth of end papers (one spread at each end of the book, and another spread for title page and copyright/dedications, which come after the first set of end papers. (so you have front cover -- end papers -- copyright+title page -- 12 spreads of art&story -- end papers -- back cover)

    But before posting this I had a look through a few books in my collection and the actual format varied quite a lot - some didn't have end papers but 14 spreads instead, others had extra pages (the more top-selling authors seemed to have more than 32 pages more often, which makes sense as they'd be a better bet for the extra cost). Looking on Google for the 32 page sheet, there was quite a bit of variation too in how they use the I scanned in my own blank one I'd been given a few years back.

    So if you're thinking of self-publishing, you could change things around within the 32 page format as it would be your own decision how to make the book.. But if you're thinking of submitting a dummy book to a publisher, it would be better to be as 'standard' as possible because it shows you know the usual format.

    By the way, if you're subscribed to SVS and have all the classes available, might be worth checking out the Children's Book Illustration class - I haven't watched it yet but having read what it's about, I would expect they'd cover things like this (just had a look again....'making and submitting dummy books' is on the list there, so it should cover all this in more detail...hopefully it doesn't contradict all of what I just wrote 😉

    Sorry long post! Hope it's helpful 🙂

  • @Dulcie thank you for the great reply! This is exactly what I was looking for, and as usual, you went far and beyong in your reply. Thanks for the contiued help! I really appreciate it.

  • Pro SVS OG

    @Dulcie's excellent answer said it all! I just wanted to emphasize something that it took me some time to figure out. The first 3-5 pages of the 32 pages are used for "front matter" - titles, copyrights, etc.... So you start your story at page 4 or at page 6 of a 32 page book. The front matter pages usually also have illustration though : a vignette or even a full bleed. So it needs to be designed for the title and copyright texts to sit comfortably in the middle of the pages.
    The spreads follow (12 to 14, as Dulcie has said, depending if you use 3 or 5 pages for front matter). Page 32 is sometimes left blank, sometimes used for the "after-climax" wrap-up of the story.
    If you look at a number of books that follow the 32 page format, you will see a lot of variability, but the majority follows this pattern.

  • @Dulcie This is such great info - thank you for posting it!!

  • This is super useful. I am watching the class now. Do all books include the front matter?

  • SVS OG

    This is great to know. I kind of knew it but to have it all layed out in on spot is nice. I just looked through other books when I did my self published book and tried to copy what they did as much as possible. I guess it didn't really matter since I wasn't using a publisher.

  • Pro SVS OG

    @RobinSlee All picture books I have at home (with my kids and my own collection a few hundred!) have front matter. The majority have five pages of front matter (page 1, then spread 2-3 and 4-5) before the story starts. A few have 3 pages of front matter (page 1 and spread 2-3 - story starts at page 4). I have come across books without front matter, but these are not generally trade books, rather cheap editions without named authors, activity books, etc... It does make a book look cheap to skip the front matter somehow, like the publisher needed to spare paper and did not need to highlight the authors because it is a buyout.
    There are however excellent books where the story starts on the front matter pages - like a sort of prologue. An example would be "The king of space" by Johnny Duddle. I am planning my book like that, as my story fits that and it solves a problem I had with the spread count.

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