How to Handle Picture Book Back Matter During Submission

Dear Rosi…

Include the back matter as part of your manuscript and call it out in your query letter. That supporting material is a component of your project, which should be considered in full. There’s no point in telling the editor about potential back matter but then leaving her to guess whether or not you could create truly interesting and useful material. If the editor thinks the back matter isn’t necessary, she’ll focus on the text; you won’t have hurt yourself by including it. Just remember that back matter should expand the book’s usefulness or interest. Adding instructions for building a kite simply because a kite appears in your story may seem fun, but it’s probably unnecessary. If the kite figures into the story in a crucial way that implies buying or building a kite is important, then it makes sense to add material about kite building and flying. Nonfiction picture books are more natural candidates for back matter, but fiction can benefit from it, too.

Happy writing!
The Editor


    • Yes, the back matter should fit within that 32 pages. That’s the standard picture book page count because it’s the most cost efficient in terms of printing-and-binding. Editors may decide that the book warrants extending to 48 pages (or less commonly, 36 or 42), but they aren’t likely to do that unless the body of the book itself needs the extra room.

  1. I read some guidelines recently that allowed 26 pages for the picture book and reserved the remaining 6 pages for the publisher’s back matter.

    • Indeed, Johana, ALL picture book writers need to be aware that they have fewer than 32 pages for actual text. Each book can be jigged a bit, but essentially you need 4 pages at the beginning for title page, copyright page, half title or dedication page, and the blank side of the half title/dedication page, with the story starting on the first right-hand page following the half title/dedication page. Sit down with a handful of picture books and count out the frontmatter versus story pages to get a feel for this. It can get confusing when we start to include printed endpapers (front and back), but this is a good general break-down with which to work.

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