According to these instructions publishers don’t care how long their books are anymore.
An 80K word novel with a lot of dialogue is going to be a third longer than one without. Think about it. No one cares how many actual words there are, its a measurement of page space. MS word is not going to help.
Definitely not an article for self-published writers. You need the basic formatting in place first so the manuscript may then be copied and formatted for electronic and print easily.
If you have a traditional publisher who will be paying for editing, then by all means follow these instructions.
Hey. I’m just writing my first novel (20000 words done so far), was just wondering, would it be best to set Microsoft Words page set up to the size of a regular paperback book to see how that pans out or just leave it on A4 and guess how many pages would be done? Also, does word count for a novel include: About the author, forward etc?
I agree with Geri – although she wrote that a while ago – that I can’t see the need to start out in the publisher preferred format; particularly as I often print off to edit/burn/slash, and prefer to read it in single spaced format.
And the typical mass paperback – is there such a thing? – has a per-page word count of anywhere between 250 and over 300.
When I started to work on novels I wanted to keep an estimate of how many words and book pages. I use Microsoft Word and a print page is different then a book page. I made some test text print outs and matched them to standard paperback versions. When I use 12 font size it looks too big, I found size 10 gives me a better estimate. But of course I’d follow whatever rules/guide lines a particular publishing company or writing magazine would want.
Just wanted to add this…
Thanks for the tips! I’ve been researching the word counts/pages of YA novels to make sure I’m not under or over. Of course, word count won’t matter if a story doesn’t ‘hook’ the target audience.
Excellent and useful (is that redundant?) discussion of word length.
The comments seem to be discussing manuscript format as well as length. Here are three articles that discuss this issue.
Daily Writing Tip post on manuscript format:
SFWA article on manuscript format:
Our post on computer skills for authors preparing manuscripts:
Specifically regarding estimating page counts:
When one of our clients needs a page count, we simply apply the anticipated format for the final book (e.g., page size, font face and size, first-line indent, margins) and see how many pages result. Then we add 10 pages for inside title pages, copyright page, etc. This gives us a pretty close estimate. Of course, this process is more accurate for self-publishing authors because they have more control over the final format. Basically, instead of applying a formula for word count, we apply the final format and see what results.
Garamond is one of my favorite fonts. Many books are published in it.
As for SUBMISSIONS, the only two fonts I see recommended are Courier and Times Roman.
Is garamond an accepted writing format for books?
Sometimes publishers have a much more esoteric formula for deriving a word count. Here’s a link about my experience with a conventional publisher in the UK – you’ll also see from the comments below it that some writers have faced a similar situation.
Since the paperback is going away, let’s look at more realistic lengths for books. I have 15 books selling in the Amazon Kindle store of varying lengths. I think the fewest words I have in a book is about 15,000. The most – 120,000. Most of my books are between 30-40K words.
I’ve sold ebooks like this for the past 2 years. I haven’t had one reader, in thousands of sales, write to tell me that one of my books was too short.
I did have a few write to tell me that my Cleansed fiction novel, at 120K, was too big to read on their computer.
Word counts are shrinking… and that’s a good thing. It’s good because writers can write more books and consumers can read more books.
Just like the days of Courier font and typewriters have passed, so too have the days of ink on paper. Time to move on – yes?
Some famous and popular novellas include Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, George Orwell’s Animal Farm, and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.
An excellent and very useful post for writers.
Ken Follett? Now there’s proof that quantity is not equal to quality. The Pillars of the Earth is one of the worst books I’ve read.
I’m curious about your advice compose the novel in the standard format from the start rather than changing it later – why does this matter? Surely when writing the important thing is to get words on the page even if they’re in pink comic sans. What difference does it make so long as you change it at the end?
When I talked of Common Nouns, I mentioned Count Nouns and Mass Nouns. Let's look at them in more detail.
On this page, I am going to deal with...
- what count or countable nouns are
- and then give you some examples of nouns which may be both countable and uncountable.
What are Count Nouns?
These nouns are names of people, places, things that we can count.
People use also the word "countable" instead of "count" to refer to these nouns.
If you put the numerals one, two, three,... etc. before these nouns, they sound normal to people who know English well. (e.g. one book, two villages, seven dwarfs. twelve apostles)
You can have these numerals even before words that describe a noun. That noun will also be a count noun. (e.g. three wise men, five BRICS countries.)
So, book, villages, dwarfs, apostles, men and countries are Count Nouns.
These are names of uncountable things...of things we look upon as one big mass (e.g. water, milk, wood, furniture, information, etc.).
We can't say: two waters, three milks, or five furnitures. That would be wrong.
We can say: two glasses of water, three cups of milk, four logs of wood, five pieces of information, etc. The words, glasses, cups, logs, pieces are countable.
Instead of the word mass in naming these nouns, you may use also the words uncountable or non-count.
But Are the Following Nouns Count or Mass?
Some nouns may be countable as well as uncountable.
Here are some examples:
- Please give me a glass of water.
(glass = a tumbler made of any material; glass here is countable.)
- The container is made of glass.
(glass = the material glass; here glass is uncountable.)
- Where are my glasses?
(glasses = spectacles. Here the word glasses is used only in the plural.)
- I read two papers every morning.
(paper means newspaper - countable.)
- Those roses are made of paper.
(paper refers to the material paper - uncountable.)
- "Show me your papers," said the policeman.
(here papers, always used in the plural, means document(s) of identification or authorization).
- This author has produced two works.
means, he has written two books. (works = books - countable.)
- Our mothers do a lot of work at home. (work = the effort to finish tasks - uncountable.)
- Let us visit our cousin's timber works tomorrow. (works = factory - used only in the plural.)
I have given you these examples to illustrate the fact that all nouns in English do not fall into neat categories of countable and uncountable.