Writing Books/word count


I know i've asked before, but then I read and keep getting different answers. So...
I'm using Microsfot Word, Courier New font, 12 pt.
Should I use the "word count" feature or the 250 times the number of pages?

Hi, Brandon!

The simple answer is to use the word count feature. The "white space" method of 250 words multipled by the number of pages was the method that publishers USED TO use to determine the approximate size of a manuscript to decide how long it would be in book form. The white space method is pretty accurate since 400 pages of double-spaced manuscript, when typed in Courier New (the font that used to be called Courier 10), 12 pt, with EXACTLY 25 lines on each page equals approximately 100,000 words. The nice part about the method is that it was accurate no matter whether the book was dialogue heavy (lots of blank/white space on a page) or narrative heavy (very little blank/white space).

But both Word and WordPerfect fight an author when trying to put EXACTLY 25 lines on the page (it's doable, but frustrating to make sure the software does it right) and the method relies on that detail.  It's not necessary to do it anymore, since 99% of the publishers out there now rely on the computer word counts and then they just adjust the "gutter" (margins) if it's long or short.

So yes, use the computer count unless the publisher's guidelines specifically state to use another method. :)

Hoep that helps!


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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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