Thursday, February 23, 2012

Let me count the ways....

Submitting a manuscript requires lots of preparation. With formatting, headers, fonts and word count, I’m so confused…but then, that’s not totally unexpected, right?

I’ve just finished – well, several months ago actually- a contemporary manuscript complete at 63,494 words using the word counter in my word program.
But the manuscript is 305 pages, double spaced, courier 12 pt. And by the old standard calculations, 300 pages were considered to be 75,000 words.

• this chart was copied from the website of www.charlottedillon/ManuscriptPreparation.html

Word Count by Page

Please note: this word count only works if you use the standard MS formatting of a courier 12, 25 lines per page, about 10 words per line. If you are using some other format, or font, then you’ll need to figure your word count with another formula or use the word count from your computer, which is the count many, if not most publisher request now days.

160 pages = 40,000 words 340 pages = 85,000 words
180 pages = 45,000 words 360 pages = 90,000 words
200 pages = 50,000 words 380 pages = 95,000 words
220 pages = 55,000 words 400 pages = 100, 000 words
240 pages = 60,000 words 420 pages = 105,000 words
260 pages = 65,000 words 440 pages = 110,000 words
280 pages = 70,000 words 460 pages = 120,000 words
300 pages = 75,000 words 480 pages = 120,000 words
320 pages = 80,000 words 500 pages = 125,000 words

Personally, I would rather use the old standard chart because most single titles start around 70,000 words. Of course 63,494 words would be too short, right? It’s not the required length traditional publishers are looking for. If I were to use the old standard calculation, 300 pages x 250 words = 75,000 I’d be perfectly within the specifications.
But then…traditional publishing has gone haywire amid all the electronic books being sold these days. I’m told they actually like shorter, faster reads and that novella’s (like Night Bird, which is coming in May) are easier to sell.

So, what to do? Out with the old and in with the new?

How do you count the words in your manuscript?


  1. I go by computer count only nowadays; just so much easier, I think. As for formatting, I am working on learning how to format some stories to upload to Smashwords, and I think I need a tutor! It makes my brain hurt to figure it out, but I'm determined to get it done. Hopefully sooner than later. Hmm, maybe it was easier in the "old" days when you just had to worry about running off the end of the page on the typewriter, because you were typing so furiously you didn't hear the bell ding. Those were the days, lol!

  2. Great post, Tereasa. Like Lucy, word count for me is the computer count. Of course, it depends on publisher, but mine use it, too. Less math all the way around.
    Congrats on finishing your WIP!

  3. I remember the bell on those typewriters! These days, with everything there is to learn publishing wise, my brain is always hurting! I've been thinking of using Smashwords and have found this link for reference when I'm ready. You might find some good info here, Lucy.

  4. Hi Loralee!
    It seems computer count is the way of it. Too bad because I'm a sparse writer. LOL. I'm thrilled to have finished this particular manuscript. Thanks for stopping!

  5. Congrats on finishing the ms. Don't sweat word count. It's content that counts. Best wishes.

  6. Thanks Diane, you're absolutely right! Give 'em a great story and the words fly regardless of word count. : )
    Glad you came by!

  7. I love that owl...he's confused, but super cute!

    As for word count, I read on a couple of agent blogs to go by the count on your computer in your word program, or whatever program you use. So that's what I've always done and so far it's worked for me. LOL

  8. Hi Christine! Heheee, the little guy looked so baffled, exactly the way I feel when it comes to figuring out what rule applies. I've even come across a few sights that are refer to the usage of two spaces after a period. It's very hard to stay current these days. Thanks for coming by!

  9. Yeah, I think most publishers go by the new word-count standard. In epub world, length isn't too much a problem though, they seem to like a variety of story lengths to provide their readers.

    But, definitely, I agree. Sometimes it's hard to find someone who'll take your story because it isn't the right length for them. I was going to recommend Harlequin SuperRomance because they used to be 60 to 65K. But I just checked and now they're 85K. SIGH!

    Good luck in your search.

  10. wow! I didn't know SuperRomance was up to 85K! Geesh! For me, once the story's finished, its done. I hate to go back and pad just to get more length. Because I sometimes fall into the trap of repeating myself. I've noticed I tend to wrap up about 65,000. So that's my new challenge, to learn how to write longer.
    Thanks so much Linda for coming by!

  11. My agent requires Times New Roman, 12 point.

    You might want to check out The Wild Rose Press, my publisher. You don't need an agent; I've just had mine for years and she does such a fab job of editing that she's worth hangin onto. The Wild Rose Press accepts any length over 20,000 words. Those stories over 65,000 are published both in print and eBook formats. They're a great publisher...very writer friendly.

  12. Hi Vonnie! If you don't mind my asking, who is your editor at TWRP? Thanks so much for commenting and since I'm shopping for an editor, I appreciate the advice.
    : )


Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. You're awesome!