How Many Words Make A Book?

by Kimberly A. Cook               (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

In my quest to purge paper files in my office, I’ve resorted to drastic measures – I’m moving my craft supplies and tools into the same room. This madness is so I can make my “writing office” feel more like an “art studio” and to corral my ever-expanding craft hoarding.

Banker boxes from hell.

Banker boxes from hell.

This mission is not without peril. When I made the big move of the jewelry/sewing table and the wire rack into the office, something had to go; the banker boxes of paper files which need to be sorted. After tripping over them in the hallway for two weeks, luckily Spec Ops Cat can squeeze by to get to his litter box, I finally started sorting this past weekend.

A piece of paper I could not locate a few months ago for a blog post charged into view. Must be time to use it!

The Romance Writers of America newsletter page from the Heart of Oregon chapter in May 1992 remains in my files for good reason. The short article from the Colorado RWA via the Florida RWA newsletter still has great information.

For those of us who proof on paper hard copy, if we use the standard manuscript format still used to submit to traditional publishers – 1 ¼ inch left margin and one-inch right margin – a double-spaced page will average 24 to 26 lines of text. Don’t count the header and use a 12 point font.

With that format in mind, you can use the following “pages-to-words” guide.

# words                      Pages

50,000                        200

55,000                        220

60,000                        240

65,000                        260

70,000                        280

75,000                        300

80,000                        320

85,000                        340

100,000                      400

115,000                      460

This is one way to get a quick idea of page length without trying to figure out your word/page count all mucked together. These guidelines are critical for romance writers who are writing to a specific category book word length. For instance, for those who love the Avon historical romances, most of them are 100,000 words so it means a 400-page double-spaced manuscript. They truly are big books!

This is also how traditional publishers figure out how large or small a book manuscript will be in a flash. Now with ebooks no such rules apply, unless you print out the hard copy like I do to edit.

Another reason to double-space your writing and print it out on hard copy? It’s so much easier to edit with the extra white space. Happy word counting!


Filed under Writing Biz

2 responses to “How Many Words Make A Book?

  1. Thank you, Kim! Some of my students have asked for this type of guide and I couldn’t locate mine. You’ve saved the day. 🙂 Good luck with the sorting and “drastic measures”!

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