My book dummy



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    I never realized how much work goes into a book dummy. If I would have known, idk how I would have approached it differently. I started at the beginning of September, hoping it would take me a few weeks, but if I could suggest a few things after going through all of this, here are my tips:

    1- learn Indesign!!!! Wow, how have I not used this from the beginning to layout my book dummy? I got a good grasp of it towards the end of this process, and it has just made everything much easier. It isn't a hard program to learn, but it can seem that way when you first start using it.

    2- Get your page turns down from the beginning! I can't tell you how much time was wasted on drawing out a complete book, and then realizing a page turn doesn't work, and then having to cut images and text just so the page turn hits correctly. Dropping an image shifts everything, potentially ruining all of your other page turns. I have found that my original idea was easily ruined by not considering this right at the beginning. I started trying to make fixes which were not at the same level creatively because my mindset was to make it fit, rather than writing the best story possible. This feels like writing music with pictures, and getting the tempo down in the beginning is what makes it 100 times easier.

    3- Plan other projects to do while working on your dummy. I was dumb, and thought this would be easy. I had a somewhat soft deadline which I missed, and it completely stopped me from working on anything for my social media for almost three months. This was a bad idea. I am glad that this is finally just about done (gosh I hope) so I can get back to some projects I have planned.

    4 - share your work with others, because a very obvious issue might not leap out at you, and most likely it won't if it's your own project. I have had numerous people look over my work, or give me advice on where I am missing the mark.

    5 - At least try to do a book dummy once, so you can get the feel of the whole process, as well as know what not to do on your next project.

    Now my phone is ringing, and I have to go drive 30 minutes in the rain, even though I was putting the finishing touches on this atm (ugh)


  • SVS OG

    Great thoughts! Dummies are definitely a lot of work and it helps a lot to get a feel for them.

    My question is... what resources might you suggest to someone who wants to learn enough Indesign basics to use for putting together a dummy? Though I've made a couple myself that is a skill set I have not yet developed, but I'd like to.


  • SVS OG

    I'm glad my years of doing graphic design were still worthwhile - they've given me a head start when it comes to technical/layout design aspects of illustration.

    Would people be interested in a basic InDesign course?


  • Moderator

    I also started a book dummy (my first ever) in September. The Smart Dummies Challenge. And boy did you nail it on the head. I did start with Indesign though so I had that going for me.
    I loved the tediousness of the thumbnail sketches and loose sketches but now that I’m almost done I’ve started getting anxious about my publisher list and who to send it to. Do you have an agent or a developed list? What is your plan? If you don’t mind me asking.

    @sarah-luann what’s great about adobe is the help feature in the menu. You can pretty much learn the basics just by looking through that. Indesign is fairly user friendly but it can seem daunting because it has a lot of great features.
    You tube is always a great free resource as well.



  • @Sarah-LuAnn My brother in law who uses InDesign everyday at his job came by and walked me through it. After having him walk me through it, I thought this would be a great class at SVS, and funny enough a few weeks before I had gotten to talk to @Will-Terry at Designer Con, and my brother in law got to meet him as well. I would love to see if they could get him to do a class for SVS on it, because it streamlines the process so much, and is the perfect sidekick for illustrators.

    @burvantill I had an agent reach out too me last April wanting to see if I had any manuscripts in the works, and at the time I was too busy with other things, and so am not just finishing it up. I hope to have it sent by the end of this week. If this doesn’t work out, I will move onto getting an art rep, and spending more time on my writing on the side.


  • SVS Team SVS OG

    Great tips! I love InDesign when it comes to laying out books. I had to learn it the hard way at work when some dummy designed a website in it and I had to pull all the assets out to build the site. But because of that dum dum I learned how to use the program.


  • SVS OG

    Great insight working on one myself right now. They are just so much harder than you think they will be at first.



  • Good points, book dummy's can be rough I'm working on one right now as well, but as long as you remember where you went wrong last time, the next one will be smoother!


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