Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What's the Deal With Word Counts?

As I shop my time travel romance around to publishers, I have to wonder why they can't all get togther and come up with a uniform word count for romance novels.

Case in point: When I completed the first draft of my time travel, I found it was too short to submit to the first publisher I wanted to target. So, during revision I added words and whole scenes, even chapters to get up to the minimum word count accepted.

I queried first, then got a request for a partial, but the partial was rejected. So, on to the second publisher on my list.

But this publisher didn't go by estimated word count based on number of pages. They wanted an exact computer word count. And, I came up short again. Now, I had to add more words, scenes and chapters to make the minimum number of words.

I submited the partial, got the request for the full. But, the manuscript was rejected.

Now, I'm moving on to the next publisher on my list and finding that the novel is too long.

Meaning, if I want to query them, I have to do some serious cutting. And I mean serious cutting.

Well, what's a writer to do? It would just make things a whole lot easier for us, if the publishers could get together.

Don't you all agree?


Jennifer Ross said...

I am worried about the exact same thing. In my case, what do you put on the query letter? My ms, going by 250/page (which I have formatted for) is 92,000 words at the moment.

But Word tells me the word count is 77,000ish. There's a major difference! So, am I targetting a publisher who wants between 75,000-80,000 words, or one who would like 90,000 to 100,000?

It's also amazing how many publishers tell you the word count they want--but not how they'd like it calculated. I don't want to waste time calling the receptionist any more than I'm sure the receptionist wants my call asking this question. But I know its important.

Thanks for highlighting the issue.

Susan Macatee said...

You said it, Jenn.

This business can be so frustrating.

Anonymous said...

I have nothing helpful to add to this, but I do have my own frustrations! I'm in complete agreement. When you ask various writing groups, they give you 2 different ways. Even those authors published with a particular publisher!

Uniformity is key here, but as with too many things today, I don't see it happening. SO many are stuck in the pre-computer past.

Kristin-Marie said...

Very helpful to bring the topic up.

Jennifer Linforth said...

Word count gives me fits.

I agree that there needs to be one standard. Either the PC count or page count but not one agent wanting one thing another editor something different.

Some want that page count in TNR others in Courier. Some want exactly 25 lines per page which changes things even more.

It is enough to make you scream...