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December 20th, 2004, 02:16 PM
I read somewhere that anything over 60,000 words can be classified as a novel. Is that correct? Most of the Fantasy novels I've read are at least three hundred pages and many of them are 400-500 pages long.

Looking through a couple of my paperback books, (The Crystal Shard, The Waterborn) I count 40 lines average to a page with an average of ten words per line, that would mean approximately 400 words per page. Multiply that by 300 pages and you are up to 120,000 words, or 160,000 words for a 400-page novel, which seems to be a pretty average sized book.

How do editors and the like tabulate word count? I just use Microsoft Word's "Word Count" feature to get my total. The story I'm currently working on will probably come in around 100,000 words but by my calculations that would only be a 250-page book.

December 20th, 2004, 02:30 PM
I'm sure it differs a lot between books, but I have always heard that there are roughly 250 words a page. And that most publisher's when looking of a novel, focus on a word count of about 80,000-85,000 especially for new authors.

Of course, if you're Stephen King, then the rules don't apply to you. :p

December 20th, 2004, 02:39 PM
It depends on the publisher, most put a range in their submission guidelines...

90,000 to 150,000 is the most common, but if your work is below or above that, that doesn't mean, they or an agent won't look at it. In the end it is the story that matters.

December 20th, 2004, 02:54 PM
But what method do the editors use to figure out the word count? I'm using MS-Word, but seeing as how they're only getting a paper copy of my manuscript, how do they figure out how long it is?

Gary Wassner
December 20th, 2004, 03:06 PM
Usually in your cover or query letter you stipulate the word count, genre, etc.

December 20th, 2004, 04:20 PM
Ah, but how do I determine the word count that I should enter on the cover or query letter? Do I just use what Microsoft Word tells me is the word total or is there a formula that editors use?

Gary Wassner
December 20th, 2004, 04:35 PM
Just use the ms word or wordperfect count. That's what eveyone expects.

December 20th, 2004, 05:24 PM
The old was was to simply count up several average lines and figure out how many words you typed on a line. Then figure out homw many lines you had on a page, and multiply by the number of pages.

These days the MS Word count is standard as far as I know. It counts by strings of text separated by spaces.

Another way of counting was every six spaces (whether occupied by a character or not) was considered a 'word.' I think this technique is more popular with newspapers though, because they have a limited amount of space to confine their articles too.

From a submission point of view, I understand that you're suppose to round to the nearest hundred words. Further, I suspect that even an error of 1000 words isn't going to be considered a major blunder. This translated into a few extra pages in a common novel. The reason word count is an issue has to do with questions of marketability, and how many books can fit together on a shelf.