Thursday, March 3, 2011

Why should a picture book be 32 pages?

Happy Birthday to the infamous Dr. Seuss who did so much to stir imaginations!

Some people look at children's books like Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat and say, "I could write a picture book.  How hard can it be?"  True, the word count of a picture book is much less than an epic novel, but few people understand how much work goes into such a small amount of words. 

In doing research for my own picture books, I ran across an excellent article that details the process of putting the physical hard cover picture book together.  Because of the way a book is made, there are restrictions when it comes to the amount of pages the book can have. 

Read the article here.

Basically, a book has to be bound in large sheets of paper that, when fastened into a book becomes the front and back and takes up 4 pages when read as a book.  The sets of paper are usually bound in groups of 4 papers which equal 16 pages (called a signature). Books are often bound in 2 signatures which equals 32 pages.   Adding a different number of pages requires more money which the publisher does not want to pay. 

When I write a picture book, it helps me to know that after the title page and copyright, etc.  I will have a certain number of pages in which to write my book.  It's helpful to have restrictions so that I can plan accordingly and envision what the book will look like in a spread with illustrations.

Amazing what goes on behind the scenes of anything we do!