Monday, 29 June 2009

Dividing the spoils

As tomorrow's the last day to register your books for PLR, here's a quick reminder of how to work out the share you should register as yours.

  • 100% if you wrote all the book and it is not illustrated, or if you wrote the book and illustrated it and no other author or illustrator was involved
  • 50% if you wrote OR illustrated a picture book
  • 80% of the text share if you retold or adapted an existing book AND the original author is named on the title page; 100% of the text share if the original author is not named on the title page
  • a %age of the text share if you co-wrote a book; the %age must reflect your contribution (so if you wrote one of four stories, for instance, your share would be 25%)
  • a %age of the whole if you wrote or illustrated a book and the illustrator/author is named on the title page; the %age must reflect your contribution. Unless it is a picture book (50:50) the author's share is likely to be more than half, reflecting the balance of text:pictures and should be agreed with the other party/parties
  • 30% of the text share of a translation
  • 20% if you edited the book and contributed at least 10% or 10 pages of the material
  • 50% if you compiled a book from different sources and did a good deal of work on it, including adding some original text
  • 80% if you compiled a book for primary sources and the work took many years of research and included additional original writing.

And finally:

  • if other contributors are dead you can't claim their share
  • if other contributors live abroad you can't claim their share
  • if you are not named on the title page OR entitled to a royalty, and others are named on the title page, you can't claim anything
  • if you are not named on the title page BUT neither is anyone else, you generally can claim a share.

If unsure, register what you think and query because if you miss registering while waiting for an answer you can't register late. You can only register books that are actually published - a book that comes out in July (yes, I have one too) can't be registered until next year.

Now, go claim your money. You'll get the filthy dosh in February.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Crow's recommended reads (1)

Here's a post that Stroppy Author should read and take note of. I sit watching her tinker with those words all day. I know the score. This guy gets it right: write the right stuff first, then tinker with it. How hard can it be? Durrrr.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Making the buggers pay

So you did all the right things, sent in your invoice, politely queried it's non-payment, accepted a few facile excuses and it's now some time later and they still haven't paid you. What next?

Send a statement, itemising the unpaid invoices and note to say that they are overdue for payment and you will apply statutory late payment penalties if you are not paid in 7 days. Refer to the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 which gives you the right to do this. If after seven days they still have not paid, or have not given you a payment date you are satisfied with, issue another invoice showing the interest and late payment compensation you are claiming. As I mentioned in the last post, this is
£40 for an invoice up to £1,000, £70 for an invoice of £1,000-£10,000 and £100 if the invoice is for over £10,000. Interest is 8% above Bank of England base rate (so currently not much more than the 8% penalty). There is a useful calculator online that will work out the interest due for exactly the right number of days. You have to put in various details about your invoice and the organisation that owes you money and it will tell you how much to charge.

At this point, I usually add a note to say that the interest is increasing daily and I will issue updated invoices each month until it is paid - you could issue them more frequently. They might pay as soon as you send this invoice. They may or may not pay the penalty interest and charge and it's up to you whether you pursue it if they don't do so. For every month that your patience endures, chase the invoice and add more interest. If you have some other hold over the publisher - they are waiting for you to return proofs or deliver another book, for instance - you may tell your editor you won't be doing any more work until you've been paid the overdue amount. Or you may be too scared you won't get any more work from the publisher. But to be honest, do you even want any more work from a publisher who isn't going to pay you? I did once hear the 'you will never work for us again' line and I answered 'you think I want to if you don't pay me?' They paid. I didn't work for them again, as they went bust. But at least they didn't owe me any money when it happened.

If they still ignore you, or give excuses about waiting for re-financing, or their suppliers not paying them, or any similar guff, you can decide whether to wait longer or take further action. Some writers consider a debt recovery agency. An agency will ruthlessly pursue the non-paying publisher, but they will take a portion of the money. A better option (in England and Wales) is the small claims court. Write to the publisher (accounts department, copied to your editor and to someone higher up if you like) saying you will start small claims court proceedings if they have not paid you within seven days.

Most of the time, they will pay as soon as you threaten court action. If they don't carry the threat though. You can file a case against someone online - it is very easy. You can sue for debts under £100,000 this way and, frankly, if your publisher owes you more than that you should not have let the situation get this far! You will need to have all the details of your invoices and due payment dates, the publisher's address and so on before you start filling the form in. You will also have to pay the court costs of between £25 and £100 depending on how much you are claiming. But you can claim this fee back from the recalcitrant publisher, too. Don't forget to add the interest and penalty payment to your claim, and use the online calculator to update the amount of interest.

Unless the publisher has a very good reason to contest the payment, they will generally pay within the period between submission of the claim and the case going to court. I had one publisher pay up on the very last day, when the (virtual) hearing was due the next day, but at least they paid. (And I have worked for them since.) If they let it get as far as court, it's probably because they genuinely don't have the money. You can persevere and even have bailifs seize their goods and chattels if you like. After all, why should you be the one to go unpaid when it could instead be the electricty board or a colossal printer in China? You did the work - you deserve to be paid. Go for it.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Invoices and all that

The idea of being a professional writer is that someone pays you for what you write. Actually getting the money can be like getting blood from a stone, even when you have a nice contract in your hot little hand. Publishers won't pay if you don't do the right things (and even then they might not. But let's not run ahead to future crises...). If you have an agent, your agent will deal with all this, so you don't need to fuss about it. If you don't have an agent, read on.

Your contract will usually specify instalments for payment. Typically, these will be: on signature of the contract (and possibly delivery of a synopsis and/or sample); on delivery or acceptance of the manuscript; on passing of colour proofs or on publication. We'll come back to the iniquities of the 'on publication' tranche another time. Then there are royalties, but that's a different system. This is about flat fees and advances - payments of a fixed amount at a fixed time.

When one of these instalment dates arrives, you can start anticipating the money. But don't spend it in advance. That way lies ruin. First you need to send an invoice. This sets out:

  • your own name and address
  • the publisher's name and address
  • the date (or 'tax point' as it's known in TaxAccountantSpeak)
  • the amount they owe you (important detail)
  • what the invoice is for (eg 'on signature payment for The Armadillo Harvest' or 'first advance payment on Do Onions Jump?')
  • the contract number (if there is one) or name of your contact at the publisher
  • your own reference number (you should number all invoices and keep a record of which number relates to which invoice)
  • the amount of VAT, if you are VAT registered.

At the bottom of the invoice, specify your payment terms - eg '30 days'. If you are VAT registered and/or a limited company you will need to put your VAT/company registration details. If the publisher can pay money directly into your bank account, give your bank account details on the invoice.

But that's all standard stuff and you are probably doing it anyway. Now, thinking ahead to when they decide to sit on your invoice for months, you need to pave the way for getting compensation for their tardiness. Add a line to the bottom of the invoice to say that if they don't pay you promptly you will be charging them interest and a late payment penalty. There is a law that lets you do this (in the UK). It is the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 and it was amended in 2002 to incorporate parts of European Directive 2000/35/EC. There's more information about it here.

If the publisher does not pay you on time, you will be able to charge interest from the day the money became overdue (so you needed that bit about payment terms). You can also charge a penalty and charge them for any costs to recover the debt (such as small claims court charges, which we'll look at another time). How much you can charge as compensation for late payment depends on the size of the debt. If it is up to £1,000, you can charge £40. If it is £1,000-£10,000 you can charge £70, and if it is over £10,000 you can charge £100.

This means that although it is more aggro to separate your invoices you should do so if there is any chance the publisher will pay you late. If they are late paying two invoices of £200, you can claim £80 compensation, but if they are late paying one invoice of £400 you can only claim £40 compensation. Even if you send the invoices for stages 1 and 2 together (as I often do) make them separate invoices with different invoice numbers so that you can pursue them separately later.

Send the invoice and keep a copy of it. (You may be able to email it - ask your editor.) If you are feeling particularly efficient, you could send a statement at the end of the month showing how much they owe you, listing the invoices you have sent, the total amount each is for and when the payment is due. This is a useful prompt to the accounts department but they don't expect it from writers. I have only had one publisher ever grumble that I didn't send a statement and that was just an excuse because they didn't want to pay.

When the payment date comes, see if they pay you. Be optimistic, they might! I have some publishers who always pay promptly - and some who always pay late. If after a week or so you don't have the money, send a polite email or make a polite call. It may be an oversight, or they may only pay at the end of a month (that's common - you can argue about it or live with it). They may give you excuses. If so, you are about to start on the lengthy process of Making the Buggers Pay. Don't worry, you'll get the money in the end.

Coming next: Making the Buggers Pay

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Guest posting: Message from a pirate

This is not strictly speaking a guest posting - it's more of a kidnap posting.

More on piracy anon, but here is a message from a pirate I criticised for referring to a book I had written and he had illegally uploaded as one of 'my books' (ie his books):

Dear Friend...
Thanks for your comment on “1001 Horrible Facts - By Yukkopedia”.

First of all, I must clear that when I say my books, meant my books collection which I share on, for sharing book on it is not necessary that one must also be a writer of that book. (you could see my profile, I didn't wrote any of book, as i am not a writer). We are here to share knowledge and education.

Secondly I didn’t say anywhere that “this book is written by me”, “I got its copyrights” or “I own this book” but in-fact neither change a word of your book given you a credit of writing this impressive & great book (see first page, writer name).

Thirdly, Your Book is available for free download on many different sites on net…if someone want to download one just have to run a search on net, then how could one defend against privation or copyright.

Well... still no hard feeling… it was not my intention to cause you distress. Cheers.

Faisal (Memonz Mind)

(His full name is Faisal Shazad and he lives in Karachi.)

Incidentally, the book is not 'By Yukkopedia', it's by me. As for 'given you a credit of writing', that means reproduced the title page. (This book has been taken down by in compliance with a take-down notice.)

What is interesting is that Faisal clearly doesn't see anything wrong with his piracy activities. I particularly like the 'no hard feeling' in the last line to indicate that he is not annoyed that I challenged him on his use of the phrase 'my book'. Of course, I am violating Faisal's copyright by reproducing his message here. What a shame. He can issue a take-down notice and I will comply. But I thought I'd let him make his case ;-)

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Killing people

Conversation in the car with Small Daughter:
SD: Have you killed someone?
SA: No.
SD: Not ever?
SA: No.
SD: Are you sure?
SA: Yes. I'm sure. Why?
SD: On Google Earth, you have a label that says 'dump body here'.
SA: Ah. Yes.
SD: And 'park car here to dump body.'
SA: Do you think if I'd killed someone I'd label it on Google Earth?

Some of you are familiar with my Facebook updates that say things like 'leaving boy to drown while I make dinner' and 'trying to hide the body'. The fact that the door hasn't been beaten down by the police suggests that either no-one in Echelon is watching or that writers have a special dispensation to talk about this stuff. [Murderers take note - become a writer!]

Killing is not as easy as it sounds. In a children's book, the main character is relatively unlikely to die, though
other characters may die from time to time. (There are exceptions in which main characters do die, of course, but I won't mention any as that would constitute a list of spoilers.) Killing people is a serious business. Death (or murder) should not be undertaken lightly; it must be meaningful and accurate. It's not feasible to go out and kill people so you need to do some other kinds of research. Forensic investigators practice on dead pigs; unless you live on a pig farm, you might find libraries easier to come by.

Books, t'interweb and experts will be your sources. There are several books for crime writers on how to kill people (how much arsenic does it take to kill an adult? how long does it take to strangle someone?), on police procedures, CSI and autopsies - see below. Online, the most excellent Muse Medicine gives the low-down on various ways of dying and lesser suffering, including natural forms of death and just illness from which your character might recover. The medical muse is a highly experienced nurse, writing for writers - just what we need.

Medical experts are usually delighted to help writers, too. I've had help from the pathology consultants of Addenbrooke's Hospital on how long a body must lie in a canal before it is unrecognisable, for instance. They will think to ask questions that hadn't occurred to you - what is the temperature of the air/water? Is the water salt or fresh? Is it tidal? How quickly does it flow? If your character is dying of illness, find out exactly how the illness you are using works. How do people die of malaria? Why does cholera cause diarrhoea? Yes, you need to know. You may not be writing a factual book, but you can't get the facts wrong. Do your research. No-one said murder was going to be easy.

Don't forget to get rid of the body properly, too, if it's a murder. How shallow is a shallow grave? Through how much earth can a dog sniff out a body? What happens to a dead body and how quickly? (read Stiff by Mary Roach, or Jim Crace's Being Dead) For getting rid of bodies (and any other geographical issue) Google Earth is useful - the conversation with SD came about because I had a boy spot the body from a train going between Peterborough and March. I needed a dyke visible from the train line, and the car journeys that go to and from the place needed the right turns, a level crossing in the right place, and so on. I may not actually mention the places in the end, but I know where they are and that it all works. So I haven't killed someone - but I could have done.

Killer's reading list:
Forensics and Fiction: Clever, Intriguing, and Downright Odd Questions from Crime Writers, Douglas Lyle, 2007

The Crime Writer's Guide to Police Practice and Procedure,
Michael O'Byrne, 2009

Strictly Murder: Writer's Guide to Criminal Homicide,
Martin Roth, 1998

Murder and Mayhem: A Doctor Answers Medical and Forensic Questions for Mystery Writers,
Douglas Lyle, 2003

There's another I can't immediately find on exactly how to kill people by different methods and diseases. I'll post it later if I can find it.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Writing the recession (2): No-one but a fool...

...writes except for money. But money is hard to come by at the moment. If you look at the industry figures (yes, you're a writer, you need to take an interest in this) book sales have not dropped so very far. There are different figures, both sides of the Atlantic and in different market sectors, but they tend to be single-figure percentages: generally, sales are down 1.7% p.a. in the UK (April figure). Hachette's sales even rose 3.3%. But publishers are laying off staff, shares in publishing companies are falling in value and commissioning is so far down it's taking advice from worms on how to live without ever seeing daylight.

After my last post on the recession, I carried out an impromptu and not remotely scientific survey amongst writers I know. The picture is the same for everyone - writers with dozens, even hundreds, of books in print are now walking dogs and building sheds to make money. It's a relief that it's not just me, but it's bad news for everyone. And I'm allergic to dogs and not very good with sheds, as evidenced by the pile of wood rotting in my garden. (Not even a dog on a string is an option. Will anyone give money to someone who just has a string?)

So how bad is it? It's always been hard to make a living from writing. The Society of Authors'
survey of the earnings of children's writers in 2005, headed by Mary Hoffman, found that a third of children's writers live on less than the minimum wage (£8,827 at the time) and only 17% earned £30,000 or more. According to the UK graduate careers organisation Prospects, only 20% of writers get all their income from writing, and the median income for writers under 35 is £5,000 pa. That's not encouraging if you're thinking of giving up your day job to write.

As if things weren't already badly wrong, they've now gone Very Badly Wrong. Everyone in the industry has been hedging around this in public. It's become the elephant in the room. In the Middle Ages, people called bears 'bruin' - the brown one - as speaking the word 'bear' was considered calling it and risking being eaten. I'm going to come clean and talk about how bad things are fo
r professional writers - and if I get eaten, so be it...

I write lots of different kinds of things and have easily been in Mary Hoffman's top 17% earning category for years. That's the result of being a writing whore, driven by the necessity of bringing up two daughters, one with an expensive taste in Jack Wills hoodies. I will write almost anything for money. I'd rather write than do anything else, so it's what I do: I don't do school visits, festivals, public events and only occasionally do university teaching. It means I have a wide spread of publishers and, in the past, if one has hit a hard time I've just switched my affections to another. A real tart. But now all my regular customers have turned celibate.

My older daughter (not the hoody-wearer) is off to university in October. Hurray, well done her. This means I have to fill in forms about my income, something I would normally leave until minutes before the Jan tax deadline. When she was offered her place in January this year, we looked at the figures for loans and grants and she was entitled to perhaps £50 or £100 of grant. When I filled
in the forms last week, she was entitled to the full grant, by a very large margin. In five months, my income has dropped 80% - 90%. And this is not atypical - it's not that I've suddenly got stupid or unpopular. Other writers report the same.

Working back from this to the state of the industry and the future implications for writers... if publishers aren't commissioning books now, they won't have anything to do in a few months, when those non-commissioned books would be coming in-house for editing, layout etc. Will the staff sit around twiddling their thumbs? If things improve, they will be commissioning for the future. That will defer the thumb-twiddling for a week or two until the commissioned authors go off to write the new books. Then what? Lay off more staff? Who will edit the books when they come in? I'll put on my Cassandra hat here and say - we could be entering a decline in traditional children's publishing from which it is not possible to recover, at least in some areas. Children's non-fiction, which has provided my bread-and-butter many for years, is facing the most
serious problems and looks as though it's opted for a DNR sticker on its notes. With Schwarzenegger's pronouncement this morning that schools don't need books - kids can use the Internet, he says - the nails are lining up to be hammered into the coffin. (And into the coffin of a decent education, I hasten to add.)

Back to the whoring... I'm going to need an even shorter writing skirt, I think. Instead of lying in the boudoir waiting for my elite band of faithful publishers, I'll be walking the streets looking for any publisher with a spare fiver. As for the looming demise of traditional publishing - I'm not going to jump onto its funeral pyre like some over-keen Hindu widow; as the whoring winds down, I'm eyeing up the toy-boy of new models of publishing. Lean and fit - what's not to like? Writers will always be needed, we just have to find where we fit in. But I'll blog about e-books/Internet versus print another day: I'm off to Anne Summers now for my new whoring costume.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Writing wear: the writer's wardrobe

Writers are not renowned for their glamorous wardrobes. Some scrub up nicely for public appearances - JKR looks pretty decent (but she can afford to) and Jacqueline Wilson is smart in black (wise choice, as the smudges don't show - not of course, that Ms Wilson would have smudges). Barbara Cartland used to wear pink silk chiffon and pearl-crusted cardies (or so she would have us believe). But saggy jumpers and torn things, layered for warmth, are more typical writerly attire, at least in this house.

One of the wonderful things about being a writer is that you don't need to get up and dress smartly and go out to work. In fact, you don't need to do any of those things - you don't need to go out, you don't need to dress smartly, or indeed at all, and you don't need to get up.

On the rare days when I don't have to dig daughters out of bed with that special tool on the Swiss army knife, lying bed to write is a delicious pleasure. You will need: two pillows, preferably Siberian goose down with white Egyptian cotton pillowcases, propped up in a cross (horizontal one behind vertical one); snuggly duvet of similar type; fully charged laptop (to avoid accidents with the cable) or pen/pencil and notebooks; heating on if it's winter; someone to bring you fresh coffee and occasionally croissants and wash the crumbs from the sheets later; soft pyjamas, preferably stripy, but not silk as they are too slippery. OK, I wish... You can do without most of them, and make a quick trip the kitchen yourself which you then blot from your memory. But you will need the pyjamas, or at least an old t-shirt as the top part of your sticks out of the duvet and gets cold. If you do without the writing materials you're in danger of being blamed for not working (by yourself or others), although you are of course thinking which is a vitally important part of writing.

If you do decide to get up, you can still wear the pyjamas. There's something so comforting and self-indulgent about still being in pyjamas that you can get lots of writing done. You can also keep having more breakfasts, living the whole day on coffee, toast, croissants, left-over tiramisu - whatever you like to have for breakfast - as it's the best meal to eat in pyjamas.

You might want to invest in a dressing gown, too. It can get very cold sitting writing for long periods. In the winter, I even write in a sleeping bag. It saves turning the heating on when I'm the only person in the house. The only drawback is that to move across the room you have to jump like some kind of up-ended slug and it's dangerous (especially if, like me, you have a polished wooden floor). Fingerless gloves, Bob-Cratchit style are indispensible in the winter, too, and even a scarf and hat.

Much of the time I work in any old mish-mash of clothes. Today it's some grey trousers (£5 in a sale) with a massive hole in (the sale was a while ago) and a pink jumper given to me by a friend who bought it a size too small (£0) and some flip-flops from Primark (£1.50). But occasionally even the most reclusive writers are prised out of their hovels to meet Other People. Sooner or later you will have to go to a meeting with your editor or your agent, and more often you will have to go to the library and the bookshop for extended periods of blobbing around doing 'research' and drinking coffee and thinking. You might go to book fairs (London, Bologna; if you're keen, BEA and Frankfurt; if you're very, very keen, Moscow and Beijing as well). And many children's writers - not me - do school visits, readings, signings and other publicity events [shudder]. You can't do all of these in your pyjamas. Some of them, it's best not to do in a holey pair of trousers and a handed-down jumper either. If you're successful enough, you might manage to project the image of someone so aloof from everyday concerns that clothes are of no importance to you, but for most of us it just looks as if we're poor and lazy. Which may well be true, but it's not a good impression to give those who might be thinking of commissioning you.

So what to choose? I have a few things which look sufficiently quirky (OK, downright odd) that they scream 'I am a writer - I don't have to conform to your ideas of sensible clothes. My favourite 'I'm a writer' outfit is a mauve/orange changeable silk skirt with artistically ragged edges, expensive blue leather flip-flops and a red jumper that is a collection of holes tied together (it's supposed to look like that). Except the flip-flops, they're from Jigsaw, which is a sufficiently not-totally-cheap shop to suggest that I'm reasonably successful but not so rich I don't need to sell any more books. More importantly, it's a colourful and comfortable outfit that is memorable but not remotely smart and business-like. It's distinctive; I can say 'meet me in the British Library café ? I'll be wearing a red jumper full of holes' and un-met editors can find me.

Now the nosy bit. What do you wear to write? And what's your favourite 'I'm a writer' outfit? Please tell me - use the comments. I really want to know. My skirt now has extra holes in it and I need inspiration.

Coming soon (when it's sunny enough to take photos)? Work where? Writing spaces

Thursday, 4 June 2009

PLR update

The Bookseller has an article on the need to register for PLR and how much you can miss out on if you don't do so.

The deadline for registering titles to include in the current year's payment (paid in Jan 2010) is 30 June, so get registering!

Monday, 1 June 2009

Dummies guide to dummies

In most books, turning the page is what you do when you've run out of words on that page. A page break comes when the page is full up and there's no space for more words. In a picture book, turning the page is a specific act, part of the performance, and a page break comes at a carefully chosen place. There is usually space on the page for more words, but the writer has chosen to put a page break. Knowing where to put the page breaks is an important part of the skill of writing a picture book.

When the child (or reading-aloud adult) turns the page, the first thing they will notice is the new picture. Then they will read the words. (I know, you're the writer, you want them to see the words first - they won't. Live with it.) You can use the page breaks to reveal a surprise, to build up tension, to share a joke... But whatever you do with it, you must be doing something; there must be a good reason for putting the page break where it is.

You need to think about where the page breaks go when you are writing, but to check that you've got them right you need to make a dummy. A dummy is a little model of the book as it will finally be. Illustrators make dummies all the time, but not all writers bother. It is worth it - it's much easier to see how your book will be used and to understand the impact of the page breaks if you have a dummy. It's also very good fun as you get to mess about with glue and scissors and can claim it is real, hard work. You can even do some drawings if you like.

Most picture books have 12 working double-page spreads distributed over a total of 32 pages. To make a dummy, take 16 sheets of paper and fold them in half (I use A3 as it gives you A4 pages to work with, but you can make smaller ones). Number the pages, 1-32. Your text will start on page 6 (or 5 if you want to start on a recto - right-hand page). You can have 12 spreads, or 13 at a push. (There is some variation possible - you can use the end-papers, for example - but this is the basic scheme.) Now print out the text of your picture book and cut it up, then glue each bit of text onto the right page. If you're feeling artistic, or want to waste a bit of time, you can sketch roughs of the illustrations, but it's really not necessary. (You shouldn't send the roughs to the publisher unless you really need to show how something should look - or unless you are a professional illustrator. You really, really shouldn't get your child or friend to draw pictures and send them to the publisher - unless you are Joyce Dunbar, of course.)

Now you'll have a paper model of the book with the text on the right pages and a lot of blank space. If you are not very good at gluing, some of them might fall off, or be wonky, or actually be stuck to the table instead. No matter. As long as you have something roughly functional you can proceed. Turn the pages of the book and read the text aloud. (You must *always* read your picture book texts aloud as that's how they will be delivered.) Of course, you will listen to the sound of the words, the cadence, etc and correct the language as necessary - but what you need to concentrate on just now is what happens each time you turn the page. What is the nature of the event? Why is the page break there? Should it be there? Is it there just because you think there are enough words on the page? That's not good enough - your book is not sufficiently tightly structured if that's the case. Rewrite it.

Next look at where you move from a verso (left) to a recto (right) page. This is a lesser event, but it is still an event. There should be some logic to the split in the text. Sometimes the text might run straight across the spread and there is no split. There are some spreads like this in Polly Dunbar's Bubble Trouble, for instance. You need a strong spread if you are doing this. It will probably have a single line of text. Look also at where blocks of text should go on the page. You might have bits of text in several places - think about how you are dividing it up. Why does the block break there rather than somewhere else?

Think about what the pictures are going to show on each page/block. You can't have a page that has no potential for a strong picture, so you will need to change the text or page breaks if this is happening.
You will probably have to make another dummy, or tear chunks out of your dummy and reglue them. (It quickly becomes a crumpled mess - make another.) But eventually you will work out where the page breaks need to go. When you are happy with them all, revise your manuscript and mark in it where page breaks occur - [page break] or [spread 3], for instance. (Notice that editorial instructions always go in square brackets.) Your editor will thank you for it - and also be less likely to break up the text in a stupid way. With luck, the illustrator will put you right if you've still managed to mess it up. You will look more professional if you can learn to get it right, integrating text, picture and the event of the page turn into a whole performance. Try to leave space not just for the illustrator's input but for the reader-aloud's input - space for sound effects, funny voices, oohs and aahs of surprise and suspense. That's why writing picture books is hard - just because it's short doesn't mean it's easy.

That was red herring last time, about work wear. Coming next... the writer's dress code