Monday, January 10, 2011

That's a Lot of Words

The magic number on word count seems to be 80,000. When I outline a book, I base the word count goal for each section on that number. Some genres tend to be longer than that. Some genres tend to be short than that. For me, that is about the length of book I want to read. If you self publish, you can use whatever word count you want. But for traditional publishing, I figure that if I submit a manuscript complete at 80,000 words I have the option of going either way with it. If the publisher wants more, I can put in some work and add more. Adding another storyline could easily add 20,000 words, putting the number at 100,000. On the other hand, if the publisher is looking for a novella, removing one of the two storylines in an 80,000-word book might be enough to bring the total word count below 50,000.

But if you must know, I tend to exceed my word count goals. I do pretty well on first drafts because I can just quit writing when I reach the limit of a section, but in revision the word count tends to climb. I think that is because I don’t realize that I haven’t explained things well enough until go back and read my work.

Now here’s a scary thought with five completed novels at 80,000+ words each, that means I’ve written more than 400,000 words. But if we look at all the blog posts I’ve written in the past few years and multiply that by the average post length, I actually have more words on my blog than I have in all five novels combined.