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PSA: The True Definition of Word Count
posted on July 3, 2017

[update] It should noted that as time progresses more and more, the things I mention in this post become less and less true, as more and more of the industry is modernized.

There is a very little known fact today among aspiring authors. One that I myself didn't realize until just recently. The way that publishers count words in manuscripts is different from what we usually think of as word count and also from how word processors count words too.

Word count is generally thought of as, literally, how many words or sequences of characters separated by white space. However, publishers use a number of pages in standard manuscript format (i.e. courier font, 12pt, double spaced, etc.) to estimate a word count of 250 words per page which comes out to be 6 characters per word. So as suggested in the above meme, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious would have a count of 5 and 2/3.

Therefore, being something quite valuable, arguably even vital to realize about word count in the industry, but yet such a best kept secret, it'd do well for me to pass this info along that less of us may go over or under in ignorance. Some cases we may sell ourselves short in mags that pay per word or in other cases we may get rejected without the simple explanation why, as a lot of publishers are too busy for individual feedback.

In order to confirm the important claim I'm making here, the top 2 results when searching Google for "how do publishers count words" are as follows:


But how I learned of this fact was through Dave Farland here: What's in a Word?

So like Maui on Moana says, "You're welcome!"

Categories: My Writing Career

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