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Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Word is a Word?

As I am nearing completion of my first novel, the realities of the publishing process have started to weigh upon me. to that end, I have done a little digging around the old interweb for more information. One tidbit in particular stood out to me as I poked around: word counts. The publishing industry dictates what a manuscript format is (this I already knew), but along with that comes the peculiar idea of word counts. Now, from NaNoWriMo I knew that different word processors count words in different ways. My favorite WordPerfect is far stingier than most (you Word users take note that you're probably getting away with free extra words), so I felt good knowing that my word counts would never be less than what my word processor reported to me. However, the publishing industry evaluates things differently than by how many actual words are on the page. They want to know how much physical space the work will take up, so their definition of a word count is vastly different from that of any word processor. I discovered two great pages that explain different methods to arrive at the word count publishers are more interested here and here. Using these methodologies, my WordPerfect reported count (as of this day) of 83,264 became 93,700 (rounded to the nearest hundred) a difference of over 10,000 words! I'm rather excited by this little piece of information as it makes me feel as if I've written that much more to my novel, and that I'm clearly not just barely making my book fit the minimum requirements of a novel. It also tells me I can edit freely (by chopping out a good bit) without fear of knocking myself under the word limit. This will let me make for a much tighter story. Stay tuned as I reveal more interesting tidbits regarding my publishing discoveries as well as my editing woes.
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