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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, so with me getting my first book ready, a question came to me.

How do you determine your word count?

I know different programs do word counts differently. For example, Word bases it on 5 characters being a word, whereas Word Count Tool bases it on spaces between words. Basically, "He is angry" would be 2 words on Word and 3 words on Word Count Tool.

So, how do you determine your word count?

Do you use whatever word processor you're writing in? Do you use a certain website/program?

Thanks in advance.
 

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Depends on how lazy I feel. If I'm in Word then I'll use their word counter but if I'm online I'll go to the online word counter. Either one works for me, I try not to get too hung up on the semantics...
 

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I'm confused. I hadn't heard that the word count function on Word was based on characters before, so as a test I typed your phrase "I am angry" into word and my counter says three. I then typed in the longest word I could think of at 20 something characters and it was counted as one word. Where did you hear that Word is based on five characters long pieces? Do you maybe have an old version of Word?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Sondrae Bennett said:
I'm confused. I hadn't heard that the word count function on Word was based on characters before, so as a test I typed your phrase "I am angry" into word and my counter says three. I then typed in the longest word I could think of at 20 something characters and it was counted as one word. Where did you hear that Word is based on five characters long pieces? Do you maybe have an old version of Word?
Ah, ignore me on that one. I'm still adjusting to Word 2007 it seems. I'm pretty sure 2003, which is what I used for the long time, worked that way.
 

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Interestingly, in Word 2007 it seems hyphenated words count only as a single word. I typed "brother-in-law" and it said one word. Typed "brother in law" and it says three.
 

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The most refreshing thing about publishing on my own is that I stopped suffering from the "word-count worries."

I write romantic suspense novels that run between 60,000 and 70,000 words. Most agents I queried wouldn't look at a romantic suspense novel under 70,000 words, and others wouldn't look at one under 90,000. I found myself adding fluff to get the word count up so they'd look at my work! Talk about silly. I ended up deleting most of the extra stuff when I decided to make a go of it on my own, and the books are stronger for it.

 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
My main worry was "What if it's too short?"

I write epic fantasy, which is often 500-1000 pages long. The thoughts of one that was less than 100,000 words had me worried that it would disappoint someone.

I worried about it until I started looking around at other self-published works in the same genre/sub-genre.

Seeing the word counts for The Weight of Blood and Night of Wolves made me relax quite a bit.
 

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I count by the page.

My first draft is double-spaced, Courier, 12-point font on 8 1/2 x 11 with 1-inch margins top, bottom, left, and right. This gives me a typesetter's count of 250 words/page. I count the first page and last page each as a half page. I round down to the nearest hundred. For example, a piece 12 pages long would become 10 pages x 250 words/page + (1/2 page + 1/2 page) x 250 words/page = 11 pages x 250 words/page = 2,750 words --> 2,700 words.

This may seem convoluted, but it simplifies things a great deal. 4 pages = 1,000 words

I know one editor who reads manuscripts in ready-to-print form (1 1/2 spaced). He counts 325 words/page.

YMMV
 

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The question you need to answer is, what are you after from the word count? If you are after an idea of the length of the book, then a count that accrues letters and spaces. If you want to know how many words you have written, then you want just the words counted. The former is more for a layout sense, the latter for a sense of accomplishment and general bragging rights.  ;D
 

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I would think word count would only matter if the book were shorter than 60,000 - 70,000 words or longer than about 120,000. Other than that, readers aren't going to know or care, since it will be a full length work. In the case of shorter books, or massive tomes, a word count warning is probably a good idea.
 

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I'm using Word 2003, and using their counter, my overall count for HUNTER comes in at 104,000+ words (chapter titles and all).

I just experimented, and three super-long words counted as 3 words, three very tiny words counted as 3 words.

Hyphenated words, though, are counting as one word.

So, I'm prone to believe that their counter is pretty accurate. If you make allowances for hyphenated words, you'll clock in a bit north of what MS Word's counter tells you.
 

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Terrence OBrien said:
Who is the audience that will be reading the word count?
(I started a thread about that a few weeks ago, specifically mentionning that I would like more authors to put the approximate word count in the book's description Please Writers, include pagecount and wordcount in your blurbs ...)

I am, but as an indication about the time I will take to read it rather than a strict number.
I know now from experience that any book under 60 000 words will feel "short" for me, whereas a "long read" will start at 100 000 words.

Of course, a 2000 words dreadfull "book" will feel as long as a good 200000 one if I have to read it. ;-)
 

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Liv James said:
The most refreshing thing about publishing on my own is that I stopped suffering from the "word-count worries."
The same here. My historical romances tend to be over 120K words, and there was always one of those "gird your loins for the phonecall from the editor saying the book has to be trimmed" after I submitted a book. One editor wanted me to cut out all the battle scenes in a book that basically followed the characters on an army campaign so cutting the battle scenes would have cut about 75% of the book *snort*. I told her what she could do with that suggestion.

More recently I uploaded an omnibus of 3 books in 1 which totalled over 750K words and it sailed through with no problems, so I'm a wholehearted fan of this brave new world of self pubbing *g*
 

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I think I'm really lazy.  I just hit "Word Count" in MS Word, and forget about it. I can't imagine doing a word count by page. It seems too much like math, lol. 

I had no idea that the Word 2003 was off by that much -- I wonder what I sent out for submission back then with incorrect word counts  ???
 

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Every version of Word I've ever used counts actual words. 

Which in the old days wasn't how you were supposed to count words.  The five characters a word thing came from the formula you were supposed to use on the editorial end.  It was supposed to measure the space a story would take up -- including white space!  So a line of dialog which said "What?" would count as a whole line of words.

However for writers, the count was based on pages.  If you properly set up your margins, you'd get 250 words per page.  And you'd base your totals on that.

But now days, everybody just uses their word processor's word count, which is actual words.

Camille
 

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"I am, but as an indication about the time I will take to read it rather than a strict number."

Sure. I just include the following in the blurb:

"122,000 words - appx 400 paper pages"
 
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