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  1. architectus

    architectus Banned

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    Proper number count?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by architectus, Oct 23, 2009.

    If you properly format a manuscript, 25 lines, Courier New 12, 1in margins all around, etc, and if Word caculates that you have 104,000 words, it will also tell you you have about 454 pages.

    If you multiply 454 times 250, you get 113,500, which is a tad more than 104,000.

    So which numbering should you use in your query? Word's counting of 104,000 or the traditional counting of 113,000?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Banzai

    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I thought the prefered method was the actual word count, rounded to the nearest 500/1000.
     
  3. Rei

    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    You should use the word count that the computer gives you. It is more accurate. That other method was for before we had computers to do the counting for us.
     
  4. Banzai

    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Yup. You wouldn't use an estimate if you have the exact figure. The estimation method is a remnant from the days of typewriters.
     
  5. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    However, even with the exact word count, you are expected to round it. If your story is 8132 words, you provide the length as "approximately 8100 words."
     
  6. Banzai

    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Really? Most of the guidelines I've read have said to round to the nearest 500 rather than 100. Does it tend to vary a lot between different markets?
     
  7. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The number to round to depends on the overall length. Basically, the idea is to only keep a couple significant digits.

    In all cases, the publisher's own submission guidelines trumps all general guidelines.
     
  8. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    explaining in more detail, rounding to nearest 500 is ok for books, but can be too far 'off' for short stories or articles...

    the count cog used as an example was for a short work, thus the nearest 100 figure was used...
     
  9. architectus

    architectus Banned

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    Cool, I wanted to be sure. I wrote an e-mail to William Shunn asking the same question, and he recommend using the traditional method. He said that it gives a more accurate number for publishers because many of the pages will be filled with dialog.
     
  10. Banzai

    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I don't see the relevence of it being dialogue. They're still words... :confused:
     
  11. madhoca

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    The point is, publishers often want to know how many pages thick the work will be. More dialogue = more pages, but the number of words will be the same.
     
  12. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Submission guidelines are given in word counts, not pages. When the submissions editor reads the manuscript, he or she will notice if there is an unusual dialogue to narrative balance, especially if it is enough to materially affect the page count. Likewise they will know if the author is in love with very long words or very short ones, or lots of small paragraphs or paragraphs that never seem to end.

    Don't second guess what they really want. They ask for a word count, so give them the actual word count, suitably rounded.
     
  13. madhoca

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Have to disagree partly. My guideline at present is 75-80k, and page number was not specified, but this wordcount is given because all the books in this series (whoever the author may be, and even though the books are not related in any other way to each other) by this publisher have to look the same thickness on the shelf and fit into the boxes properly! I'm not joking! Other fantasy series etc have similar restrictions, I believe. It all comes down to what the publisher wants.
     
  14. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    how is that disagreeing?... with what/whom?
     
  15. architectus

    architectus Banned

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    Publishers want to know word count for they can estimate how many pages the novel will be in print. I think Willian Shunn was saying the traditional word-count method (not page count) gives a more accurate word count as to how many pages the novel will take up in print.

    This is because many pages will be full of dialog or short paragraphs.

    I don't think they care if you use a lot of dialog. Look at Enders Game, Speaker for the Dead, Abarat. Talk about pages and pages of dialog. But it's dialog that moves the story forward.

    Eitherway, the traditional method only gives you a few more thousand words, from 104k to 113k, at least for my writing.
     
  16. madhoca

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry, I should have been clearer. What I meant was, it seems people think that the actual page count is irrelevant, but often it isn't.
    The word count gives an indication of page number, but sometimes the page number needs to be considered more specifically. As you say, the subs editor will get an idea, after looking at a manuscript, how many pages to calculate for the finished work, but it doesn't do any harm for the writer to be as aware as possible.
    If you have pages and pages of dialogue, it should be fairly evident that you're looking at more pages than the word count indicates and you should bear this in mind.
     
  17. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    However, that is the publisher's concern, not the writer's. If the story lies within the word count range in the submission guidelines, but is outside the page count that the publisher is constrained by, adjustments can be made during typesetting, such as font or kerning changes.

    Seriously, if your dialogue to narrative ratio is so eccentric as to significantly throw off the publisher's page count calculations, you will probably not be losing the sale due to the page count constraint!
     
  18. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    true!...

    page count is really and truly irrelevant to the writer, unless s/he's going to self-publish...
     
  19. madhoca

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or unless you dislike someone else cutting down the dialogue for you, or asking you to re-write 5 chapters.
     
  20. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    even if you do dislike that, mh, page count is still irrelevant...
     

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