Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Your Word Count is Wrong

I ran across an interesting article today about word count. Evidently, when traditional publishers, or, I assume, POD publishers talk about word count, they don't mean the number that Microsoft Word spits out at you. What they really want to know is how many typeset book pages they'll be paying for.

Here's the formula:

If your manuscript is done in 12pt. Courier, with 1" margins, double spaced, 25 lines per page, then multiply the number of pages by 250.

It makes sense if you think about it. A page full of 1 line dialog is going to have a lower word count but take up the same amount of space as a page full of description... and your publisher/POD printer, has to pay for the paper even if the page is mostly white space.

I wonder if anyone has created a formula to let you know how boring your book is... If lots of dialog and short paragraphs make for a book that reads easily, and vast amounts of lengthy description are dull, it stands to reason that more white space = good. If that's the case, then perhaps you can tell if your work contains too much or too little description by determining whether your average typewritten page contains more or less than 250 words.

I'm going to do an experiment. I'm going to estimate my words per page for each chapter and see if my more exciting/actiony chapters have a higher or lower word counts than the more emotional/talky chapters. I might even go ahead and do this on a scene by scene basis if the results are interesting.
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