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Old 24th April 2008, 06:10 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Novel Word Count

walker206 - Just use the actual word count.

There are too many websites listing formulas, specifying fonts, font sizes, etc. I went through the same thing and the results vary too much.

Use the word count as given by the word processor and then round it up or down to the nearest thousand.

e.g.
You have 126,344, call it 127,000
You have 189,012, call it 189,000

Hope that helps.
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Old 24th April 2008, 06:23 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Red face Re: Novel Word Count

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Jarrold View Post
As an agent (and previously a publisher) I have always used that method since I switched from WordPerfect to Word!
I assume by "that method" you're talking about using Word's count? So, what about this whole "the 250 way is more accurate" business? Is that just bunk? Also, I've read many of your posts saying that so and so won't take anything less than 100,000, or 120,000 for fantasy. But my situation is a perfect example of why this is confusing. 13,000 words makes a big difference either way. By one method, according to your posts, my novel wouldn't be considered. By the other, it's fine and would be. Not trying to nitpick, but there just seems to be a lot of discrepancy out there regarding this issue.

Re: Wordperfect. Hah! I remember using that back in college!

Scarfly - thanks for the opinion. Also, given your examples, I guess I'll bump mine up from 93,3-something to 94,000. I figured under 500 you go down and over you go up. Ah, this crazy publishing biz!
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Old 24th April 2008, 06:29 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Novel Word Count

Choose the method you like and go with it. The prose will be what counts first and foremost.

Obviously, there is some flexibility in every method. Anything I say is a guideline. But don't expect an 80,000 word book to be considered for the mainstream fantasy market (that's a general principle, not something specific to you, obviously, since you've mentioned 93k)! A wonderful book around 95k may well have a chance - don't get too hung up on these details, concentrate on your writing and I'd just suggest authors aim for something in this general area of length.
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Old 24th April 2008, 06:41 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Novel Word Count

Trust what John tells you -- you won't find a more experience source of information. Meanwhile, yes, there is a lot of bunk on the web.
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Old 24th April 2008, 06:49 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Novel Word Count

Thank you, Teresa!

The cheque is in the post...!
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Old 24th April 2008, 06:54 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Novel Word Count

Keep in mind, John, that my fees go up during the next quarter.
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Old 24th April 2008, 06:59 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Novel Word Count

Damn...!
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Old 24th April 2008, 08:32 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Novel Word Count

I didn't realise that there was a 250 method. I've always gone by the word count function ...

There I go, showing my ignorance once more!
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Old 24th April 2008, 08:53 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Novel Word Count

I've never heard of the "250 method" either.

Back in the days when we had no word processors or computers to count the words for us, I was taught to choose 5 pages of the typewritten manuscript at random, count the words on each one, average them, and then multiply the result by the total pages.

Then we'd round off to the nearest thousand, and write "approximately ---,--- words" at the top of the first page.
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Old 24th April 2008, 09:09 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Novel Word Count

re this "250 word" method - i can't quite remember where i've read it (possibly on the web, natch, which makes it unreliable), but i seem to recall that using a 12-point font like courier, with 1" margins all around, results in a very rough average of 250 words per page. applying that to a couple of my chapters - chapter one is 23 pages and 5747 words, resulting in an average of 249.86 words per page. but my cliffhanger chapter is 15 pages and 3323 words, because of increased dialogue, which results in an average of 221 words per page.
obviously using either of those two averages to measure a wordcount across an entire manuscript will give skewed numbers because your writing will vary in its denseness across each page. some chapters will be more talky, othres more descriptive.
Walker, i'd concur with John & Teresa - take the true count from your WP program as it will be more accurate than the 250 method.

s

Last edited by chopper; 24th April 2008 at 09:11 PM. Reason: more info
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Old 24th April 2008, 09:11 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Novel Word Count

I've got bags of respect for anyone who's managed to write a novel on a typewriter! I don't think I could survive without spell-check, word count, cut and paste, etc ...
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Old 24th April 2008, 09:30 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Novel Word Count

Well, thank you. But when you think of all those Victorian writers turning out 1,000 page novels with only pen and ink, it rather pales in comparison.

Anyway, while I didn't use "cut and paste," my early drafts show ample evidence of "cut and staple" and "cut and scotch-tape."
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Old 25th April 2008, 12:33 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Novel Word Count

I think I'll just go with Word's count because apparently here in the US, 94,000 words should be fine. But, from what I've read on this forum, if I were trying to get it published in the UK, I'd go with the 106,000. Obviously, I'm being (only slightly) facetious, since, again, a difference of "13,000" words is significant.

Re: why use the 250 method...the whole idea seems to be that word count doesn't matter as much as how many pages are going to be needed for the book. Chopper's examples demonstrate this. I have a good amount of dialogue in my novel, so my 93,000 words will take up more pages than someone else who has a 93,000-word novel that has hardly any dialogue.
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Old 25th April 2008, 12:56 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Novel Word Count

No, no, word count does matter, because that's how much story you're going to deliver, and long stories are what sell now.

How long the book will be in print is determined by the book design and all sort of other things that come into the production of the book.

Even in the US, 94,000 words is a bit scant for a fantasy novel aimed at adults, except for specific sub-genres, so if the book can be made longer without compromising the quality, you should probably try and do so.

But don't try to inflate the word count with rationalizations about the amount of dialogue and the number of printed pages. When an agent or an editor realizes that you've fudged the word count by something on the order of 13,000 words, he or she is not going to be favorably impressed.
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Old 25th April 2008, 01:09 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Novel Word Count

Sorry to shift the topic sideways slightly. While we are talking about Word's word count. How is its readability information rated?
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