One of the most basic things I didn’t realize when I started writing was how to deal with / convert the word count of my manuscript.  In the past week, I’ve gotten a few questions about it (I’m assuming because NaNo is full force) so I figured I’d answer it here.

I understand it can differ for ePubs, because they use actual computer count, so you can check Word or whatever program you use and get your actual word count there.  Easy enough.  So if the publisher says they want manuscripts of 40K, I’m assuming (I know, I know…) that they’ll get anywhere from 38K to 45K (or maybe a bit more).

But most print publishers – well, at least mine – still use the page count thing and I’ll explain why in a second.  On the contracts, publishers expect anywhere from 85K to 100K, although these days going over 100K is slightly more problematic than coming in a bit under.  Publishing costs and all, I’m guessing, although I do know that most editors will not trim away an extra 20K if it is fabulous and not simply filler.

So it goes like this – for every 20 pages, it’s assumed that it’s 5K.  So 200 pages should equal 50K, half a manuscript for a NY single title.

Here’s the rub – if you write lots of dialogue (like me) you’ll have low word count but a regular page count.  For instance, on the current WIP, I have 193 pages and 38K.  My manuscripts run anywhere from 400 pages to 424 pages (my highest, I believe) and they all log in around 90k – 93K.  For the record, when I hand it in, I use Courier New 12 point, because that’s an equal font and can give the publisher an idea of how long the book will be when printed.

For me, this all works out, because I don’t worry about word count – I know if I get close to 400 pages, I’m good.  I’ve told the story. And it seems to take forever – there’s a point when I think, I can take the words Larissa cut from her recent Demonica book and add them in – who will notice?

As always with advice, your milage will vary.  And btw, no one in NY will reject your manuscript if you don’t use Courier New 12. Just use a readable font and you will be fine, I promise.  Personally, I hate Courier New and I write in TNR 14, but I always convert so I can see the pretty page count.

The things we do to trick ourselves.

With this current WIP (aka PROMISES IN THE DARK aka Zane’s story), I have about 45K more to go (I’ll get the rest through revisions.)  I’ve lost ground as I mentioned yesterday, so I need at least 5K per day for the next few days to make up ground.  For today so far I’ve got 2K, which is good – I usually can’t get that much done during the day.  And I’m trying to work on Sydney book 6 at night, since that goes faster with two people working on the story.

Oh, and another Zoo train story – he IM’d me today to tell me that there were high school kids on the train this morning drinking beer at 7AM headed to the Yankee Parade and those were the days.  My response?  That was us – a looooong time ago. We’re old.

His response?  I know.  I almost gave them money to buy more beer.