Picture Books: Those Confusing 32 Pages


I got this comment and thought it needed to be a separate post:

Tamar Asks: 32 pages? Not clear

Thank you for your posts. They have been very helpful.
It isn’t clear to me from your posting of a 32 page book being standard, how many pages of text that translates into for the author.
Or does it just mean that an author should aim for a book that she tells the publisher is going to be 32 pages, and they break it up. Or does she break it up herself.
Thank you and looking forward to your response.

Darcy Answers: 32 pages of finished book, 5 (or less) pages of manuscript text

Thanks for the question!

Book. There will be short segments of text on each page (or double-page spread).

Manuscript. If you translate that to standard manuscript pages, that’s 5 pages or less of text. When you send in the mss to a publisher, you send it in standard manuscript format (5 pages or so). When the text is laid out for the picture book, the editor, art director and illustrator will divide it into the segments that go on each page.
You will see me suggest that you divide your text into 14-28 segments, anticipating how it will be laid out in a picture book. That is strictly to help the author revise and polish the text. When you send in the mss, it should be in standard mss format.

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  • Maria Norris
    April 29, 2009


    I found your website to be very helpful. However, I haven’t been able to find the answer to a question I have: exactly how does one format the manuscript for a RHYMING picture book – that is, one with stanzas. Do I format it like a poem (single spaced within a stanza, and double spaced between stanzas), or double spaced with 4 spaces between stanzas. Your answer would be GREATLY appreciated. Thank you, Maria Norris

  • Richard
    May 1, 2010

    So what you mean to say is that the end book will have 14-28 pages with text from the author and the other four pages are filler from the publisher? I still have trouble with your statement. My manuscripts are around three hundred words but they are poems written to be one or two lines a page.

  • Darcy Pattison
    May 2, 2010

    Yes, you’re right. In a 32 page book, there are about 3-4 pages of material required, such as a title page and copyright page. That leaves about 28 pages for text. If you want a double-page spread (illustration covers both pages of a book when opened flat), then you may have text on only one side of that spread. However, sometimes, there is text on both sides.

    I don’t think I would call a title page and copyright page as just “filler from the publisher.” i can’t imagine a book without a title page; and you certainly want the copyright notice there to protect your work.

    A 32- page layout is just standard in the industry.


  • Shelberight
    June 2, 2011

    Great site! Thanks for the info. Just to clarify… Your cover and back cover are obviously not part of the 32 pages right?

  • Darcy Pattison
    June 3, 2011

    Correct. There are actually end papers that are glued to the front and back papers, too. Sometimes the illustrator will do something there. But the 32 pages are the pages of the book, not including the binding.