Friday, June 24, 2011

Page Numbers or Word Count - Which is more important?

Through my many discussions into the progression of my book writing process, a question continues to resurface. How many pages is your book? Initially this concern or idea was something that was important to me. I guess I wanted to feel like I was accomplishing something. I tried hard to remember exactly how many pages I'd written. In the end - the first draft - with double spacing was over a thousand pages.

But as a reader and a writer - what does that really mean.  As I have started editing - I've realized that page count means relatively little.  Changing the font size, the font type - single vs double can all change the actual page count drastically.  I started reading author, agent, and publisher blogs and word count is by far more important.

I learned about the importance of daily writing, keeping a constant schedule and trying to write every day. I set myself a word count daily goal of 2,000. This seemed like a good number. Though as I continued to write I only reached this goal half the time of the days that I found time to write. Some days I surpassed this number.  In future writing - I may do a weekly word count.  As my life sits, I am unable to write daily - at least on any book project I may have.  But I do other ways.

Word count is often dependent on the type of book you are writing. You surely wouldn't want a childrens' book to be in the 100,000 word range and you wouldn't want a fantasy book in the 20,000 word range.

I was always unable to answer the word count question because I hadn't taken the time to combine the 25+ different and individual chapters, each being divide into their own document. That changed today. I finally was able to combine everything, with some power and finesse into a complete first draft, word count.

Drum roll please........I finished my first draft of my first novel at 245,000 words. 

I immediately was shocked because I didn't know the actual count until I combined everything at the end.  This really scared me because word count is so important.  I knew immediately that my manuscript was substantially too long. 

I began editing with a vengeance and the number changed dramatically.  I cut out over 100,000 words - which is another person's manuscript. I have now gone through 9 rounds of editing.  From a massive cut and slash - to improving conversation and scene cutting.  I've cut 100,000 words but other senctences have been rearranged and scenes improved in order to tighten up the writing.  It is a process that unfortunately has taken almost 8 months.  

Now, I need to move to the next step - which is the query letter.  I am just beginning this process.  I still have page count in the back of my mind - because I am still asked about it on a daily basis.  But the real key - is word count.  My genre is Epic Fantasy instead of just fantasy for this same reason - Epic Fantasy allows a larger word count. This suites me just fine...I hope. 


  1. I totally agree, my book being a YA fantasy needs to be 10,000 words longer. I ended it pretty abruptly so I think I can do it, but then again I know some things will need to be cut. Let's just say I'm nervous for the end result.

  2. Holy cow! I'm impressed you cut 100,000 words. That is no easy thing to do. But as you know, it makes the book better when you dissect your manuscript like that. And good luck with querying! It's the best and worst part of writing. :P
    Thanks for stopping by! Nice to meet you! :)