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Word count

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 8, 2017

Years ago I struck up a conversation with a writer who proceeded to tell me about her book. As I am wont to do, I asked her the word count of her manuscript. She answered, "Penguin." I should mention that she was French, and there was clearly a language barrier. After a long awkward pause in the conversation, I asked the question again and got a less satisfying answer. She didn't know.

 

I tell you this story to point out that if you ever talk to me about your book, I am going to ask you the word count of your book. To me, word count matters. It tells me a lot about you as a writer and it also gives me a little insight into your book.

 

Knowing the word count of your book, tells me you've paid attention to the construction of your book. Depending on your answer, it tells me if you've abided by the unwritten rules of word count when it comes to genre. It tells me how engaged you are as a writer. 

 

There are a few times where word count isn't a huge deal. If you've written an illustrated children's book, word count doesn't matter. If you've written a book of poetry, word count isn't an issue. The same is true of graphic novels, and a select few other genres.

 

Know the word count of your book, especially if you're going to spend an evening with other authors. If someone with a publishing background asks you how long your book is, don't give them a page count or number of chapters. And whatever you do, don't answer penguin. 

 

-Richard

 

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Richard Ridley is an award winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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General Word Count Guidelines

Using Word Count to Stay on Track

779 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: writing, genre, word_count, writing_tips, author_advice
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National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is here! Aspiring authors around the world are challenging themselves to complete the first draft of a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. That's no easy feat, especially if you have a day job, but it can be done. The key is to put yourself on a schedule and stick to it.


For example, you could be:


A)   Writing 1,600-1,700 words each day, including weekends

B)   Writing 2,500 words each Saturday and Sunday, plus 1,300-1,400 words each weekday

C)   Writing 5,000 words each weekend, plus 1,300-1,400 words each weekday

D)  Pounding out 12,500 words each weekend


When I'm writing a novel, I give myself a daily word count quota, Monday through Friday, and don't let myself go sleep until I've reached it. That way I don't get behind and stress myself out. (I tend to get stressed out easily, so this approach works for me.) If I wrote on the weekends, my daily quota would be considerably lower, but I need that mental break to stay fresh and engaged. Other writers prefer writing every single day. Do you see my point? We're all different, and that's perfectly fine! What's the point of trying to conform to someone else's schedule if it doesn't work for you?


Some authors like to put a detailed outline in place first before they write a single word, while others say outlines are a complete waste of time. Again, I believe that you should do what works for your creative spirit and not worry about what anyone else says. Writing novels is an art, not a science.


Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, please share your approach in the comments. I'd love to see how varied the responses are so we can all learn from each other!


-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


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The Milestones You Should Track during NaNoWriMo

How to Write a Novel in a Month

 

391 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, writing, nanowrimo, word_count, writing_strategy
1

The publishing industry has developed word count standards for various genres. In the past, we've talked about those here on this blog. We may have even suggested using the word count totals as guidelines for your novel. My suggestion today will appear to go against that previous suggestion, but hear me out.

 

When writing your first draft, I would suggest that you not word count watch. Don't curb your creativity in an effort to meet a standard. The first draft is for letting go and letting the passages fly. Having a target word count can add undue stress and slow you down as you try to force creativity. On the first draft, set the target aside and just write.

 

Too many writers set up roadblocks to first drafts before they even start writing. As I've said many times, your first draft should be bad, so bad that you never want anyone to see it. Use your first draft to get the story from your head to the page. Once you've completed the first draft, the polishing begins.

 

Now, when you reach the rewrite stage, use the word count target as a guideline again. Cut or expand as necessary. That's what rewrites are for. The standards exist for a reason, and while ignoring them all together is your prerogative, adhering to them helps your book meet the expectations of your genre's reader base. A few thousand words above or below the standard are fine, but anything beyond that and you run the risk of chasing fans of your book's genre away.

 

To recap, standards such as word counts are good, but not when it comes to writing the first draft.

 

-Richard

 

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Richard Ridley is an award winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Word Count Paralysis

How to Get Through the First Draft

732 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: writers, writing, drafts, craft, word_count, writing_tips, writing_help
2

In our last post about word count we discussed the importance of setting a goal early on in the process. For this blog, let's focus on how you're going to reach that goal. Theories abound on the best approach to amassing the words necessary to complete a book-length manuscript, and over the years, I've probably tried them all. Each philosophy has its merits, and there is no right way to reach a word count goal. Here are the three things to keep in mind as you move towards your goal:

 

  1. You don't have to take a daily word count approach. Let's face it: writing isn't just the act of typing. A lot of times it's the act of ruminating over an idea, scene, piece of dialogue, etc. You shouldn't beat yourself up if you let a day or two or three slip by without adding actual words to your story. They're building up in that gray matter of yours. If you're the type that likes to wait until a scene or chapter is fully realized in your mind, that's a legitimate approach. Don't let anyone tell you differently.
  2. The Stephen King approach is admirable but not for the faint of heart. The master of horror has stated that he commits to a daily word count of 2,000 words. That's a hearty pace, and it's not for everybody. During NaNoWriMo, I approached that kind of output, and I have to say I found it invigorating. In a way, it felt like I was in training for a marathon
  3. Commit to a single word a day. I'm not kidding. I love this approach, especially for beginning writers. It removes the pressure of being productive and takes away the anxiety of sitting down to write. The secret here is that once you convince yourself you only have to write a single word a day, you relax and far exceed your. The writer's mind is full of fun ideas, but it';s also easy to trick it into doing some actual work.

 

When mapping out how to reach a word count goal and deciding which strategy works best for you, there are two things you want to keep in mind: your personality type and your timeline. If you work best under pressure and you've set an ambitious release date for your book, obviously high volume output is for you. If the pressure to create makes you less productive and creative, and you're not in a hurry to get your book to market, take your time with a low volume approach.

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

 

 

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Setting Goals for Your Brand

Got Writer's Block? Step Away from the Keyboard

3,465 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, indie, publishing, writing, craft, word_count, writing_tips, writing_advice
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In our second stage of writing a book, we need to establish the miles you'll be logging on this journey. We've discussed word count on this blog before in a number of different ways. Today, we want to establish what your final word count will be, or if not establish, at the very least, estimate.

 

Wait, you say, I've only just begun. How can I possibly know how many total words my book will be? Establishing a word count goal can be tied to many different factors. Genres adhere to unofficial word count parameters. The type of book – novel, novella, or novelette – comes into play when deciding word count. Are you doing a novel and releasing it in a serialized format? That can impact your total word count on a per release basis. You are a factor in establishing a final word count. Are you on a timetable? Do you have an outline that maps out plot points precisely, and in order to keep to your vision, a certain word count works that breaks the unwritten genre rules?

 

Unfortunately, there's no formula for coming up with a definitive word count, but I will say that every time I've set a word count total, I have either reached that total or surpassed it by 10-15 percent. There's something about knowing how far you need to go that allows you to find your pacing.

 

If you want to make an educated estimate, you can search this blog or the internet for word counts based on genre. That is your best place to start before making your final decision.

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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General Word Count Guidelines

Stage One of Writing a Book: Idea Exploration

3,320 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, editing, writing, craft, words, word_count, writing_tips, editing_process
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How long should my novel be? That's a question I hear quite a bit from new writers. They have experience as readers, but the only thing they can accurately gauge is the page count as it applies to the length of a book. We know as writers that word count is the unit of measure with which we should concern ourselves. That being said, what is the proper word count for a book that is made available for sale to the public?

 

Well, of course there is no law that dictates book length. What is and isn?t palatable by the reading public is subjective. But the expectations set by the book industry years ago are a good rule of thumb to follow today. I compared the numbers on three sites that addressed this matter and came up with general word counts for the following genres.

 

  • Middle Grade: 25,000 to 40,000

  • Young Adult Fiction (YA): 50,000 to 80,000

  • New Adult Fiction: 60,000 to 85,000

  • Romance: 60,000 to 100,000

  • Literary Fiction: 80,000 to 110,000

  • Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense: 70,000 to 90,000

  • Fantasy/Science Fiction: 90,000 to 125,000

  • Horror: 80,000 to 100,000

  • Nonfiction: 70,000 to 110,000

 

It?s important to note that these numbers represent what the industry normally looks for from debut authors ? in other words, authors who don?t have established brands. Authors with a large following can and do break the word count expectations in whatever genre they specialize in. These numbers are simply to be used as a general guideline for new authors.

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

 

 

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Picking a Final Word Count Before You Write

The First 5 Weeks of a Manuscript - Week 2: Genre, Word Count, Finding a Reader, Announcing Intentions

5,360 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, book, author, writing, genre, word_count, writing_tips, industry_standards, wirting_advice
1

Word Count Paralysis

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jul 23, 2014

Sometimes staring at the blinking cursor on your computer screen can make it morph into a stop sign and prevent you from holding a thought long enough to tap it out on your keyboard. It can be an unintentional panic signal that freezes your fingers in place and fills you with heaping helpings of writer's doubt. Your focus shifts from what you want to write to how many words you must write before you will allow yourself to stop for the day. Gradually, you fixate exclusively on that word count goal, and you're unable to type a single solitary word.

 

I call it "word count paralysis," and there's really only one way to prevent it: Ditch the daily word count goal. In the end, it doesn't really matter how many words you write in a day. Your only goal is to make some sort of progress; big or small, it doesn't matter. The only thing that does matter is that you advance from where you were the day before.

I've talked before about my own word count philosophy in previous blogs. My goal while writing a book is to write one word a day. Not only have I never come short of my goal, I have far exceeded that one-word-a-day benchmark every single time, occasionally by as much as 6,000 times.  

 

Daily word count goals always have been the bane of my writing existence. They have served as arbitrary roadblocks that fill me with dread. As long as I ask myself to contribute only one word a day to a story, I am relieved of that pressure that leads to word count paralysis.

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Writing a Word a Day

Unblocking Writer's Block

4,682 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: books, author, writers, writing, draft, writing_process, word_count, chapter_length
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Well, we've reached week two of the life of a manuscript. You've done the hard part in the first week: you know your primary characters. You've captured the feel of the story by clearly defining the plot and writing the first few pages. You can adjust plot and characters as you go along, but by now, you should be well on your way to writing a steady stream of pages. The story should be in your blood by now. We're on to the next few steps in Week 2:

 

Commit to a genre - This may sound like a no-brainer, but I've talked to too many authors who don't know what genre their book falls under. Some authors believe it's beneficial to write a book that isn't pigeonholed by the expectations that come with being associated with a specific genre. In point of fact, the opposite is true. When you know your genre, you create a deeper level of connection with your story. It's important to know what type of book you're writing early on, because the expectations you may have tried to avoid will actually be a great guide for you as you write. Yes, you're bound to overlap into other genres, and that's fine. But you'll still have a primary genre as your basic map.

 

Pick a word count - I've discussed picking your word count early in the writing process before on this blog. I suggested that it's advantageous to do it before you start writing. I'll amend that a little here: it's advantageous when you are ready to start writing in earnest. The reason is similar to the reasoning of picking the genre early on: it creates rules for you to follow. I'm a big believer that rules free you up to be more creative. When you're faced with something you can't do because it would violate a self-imposed rule, you will turn to your creative nature to stay within those rules. Setting the word count will also let you know what your pacing should be in order to reach a conclusion in a satisfying manner. If I pick my target word count at the earliest possible point, I, at the very least, know what rhythm I need to establish as I write.

 

Find a reader - Writing tends to be a solitary endeavor, but it doesn't have to be. Find a friend or family member who is willing to read your pages as you write. You want someone whose opinion you trust because you're going to ask them to be brutally honest with you. You're asking them to do something that's time-consuming and perhaps even a little uncomfortable. Be respectful of their input. Listen to what they have to say, and then keep on writing.

 

Announce your intentions - It's time to let the world know what you're doing. This is what social media is for: to let your friends and followers know what your latest adventure is. In this case, it's writing a book. This is where your word-of-mouth campaign gets underway, and it's also a way to keep you honest. If you announce that you're writing a book to your entire network, you'll feel that much more obligated to finish it.

 

That's it for this week. Next week, we'll move on to editing and posting your first paragraph, evaluating your progress, and building buzz on your project.

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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The First 5 Weeks of a Manuscript - Week 1: Idea, Character, Plot, First Pages

Picking a Final Word Count Before You Write

2,277 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, book, writers, writing, genre, craft, social_media, word_count


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