Welcome to my Writer’s Block!
We are talking about word count today. Whenever anyone asks me about books I have written or am working on, they inevitably ask me about how long it is. Truth is I know that they want to know how long it is, in pages. Yet, I answer them in word count.
“Sixty-eight thousand words? How many pages is that?” they ask. And I know there is a formula for figuring it out in a general sense. For the purposes of being able to answer those questions about page count, the following information is listed on fionaraven.com:
Using your current word count and the appropriate formula below, calculate the number of pages you can expect in your finished book:
Your word count divided by 390 = page count for a 5.5″ x 8.5″ book For example: 50,000 divided by 390 = 128.20 pages
Your word count divided by 475 = page count for a 6″ x 9″ book For example: 50,000 divided by 475 = 105.26 pages
In the examples above, use the 5.5” x 8.5” for fiction, and the 6” x 9” for non-fiction.
But Back To Word Count :)
Word count is how writers determine what kind of baby we have: is it a short story, novella, epic novel? We can generally tell by the word count. There are several sources for a description of word count “requirements”, but it is also important to realize there is also some grey area there as well. I tend to lean toward the more flexible word count designations.
Writer’s Digest has a very good post about it here, where they show optimal, acceptable, and unacceptable ranges for just about any fiction book and level. I like this article, because of that “grey area” I spoke about earlier. Nothing I do is ever black and white. I have said this other places on my blog, but the arts, to me, are living things. They evolve, grow and develop in differing ways.
Does word count really matter? I think it does. If you pitch a book to an editor at a press or to a literary agent, it really should fall into the word count range for the genre that it is. The agents and editors know the market. They know what readers specific genres expect as far as word count. So, I think it does matter.
What happens if your novel falls short of the desired word count? All is not lost. While I believe in word count ranges, if a story is well told and it’s only a novella length piece, maybe that’s what it was meant to be. And if your story explodes into the hundreds of thousands for word count? Perhaps you have a series on your hands!
Is word count something you should focus on from the beginning of a project? Maybe, maybe not. For example, I believe in a free-flow writing process. I do like outlines (a LOT!), but when actually doing the writing of a first draft, I get the ideas down, and fill in gaps later. I tend to be a very lean writer, generally speaking. I don’t think I could ever write a novel of epic length. It doesn’t suit my style.
But if it is November 1, and I am embarking on another trip through NaNoWriMo, word count is everything to me! I want to win, so my goal is 50K or more words by the end of the month.
How do you feel about word count? Do you follow any hard and fast rules, or are you an embracer of the grey area, like me? Comment below! I love to connect with my readers J