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Writing Books/figuring how many pages

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Question
My book is fiction and a mystery.

I do not know how to estimate the number of lines per page, so that I will know how long my book will be.

Thank you.

Answer
Hi Shirley:

The number of pages your book will require depends on the font you use, and the size. Many publishers nowdays are asking that the MS be typed in either Times New Roman 12 or Courier New 12. An article I recently wrote is 400 words with Times New Roman 12, and occupies one computer page.

If you're thinking in terms of a hardback book, you can find the average number of words per page by examining another hardback book. Count the number of words in the first 10 or 20 lines, add them up and divide by 10 or 20. That will give you a rough idea of the words per page. The more books you examine, the more precise your estimate will be. If you want to estimate the number of words in the book, just multiply your words-per-page total by the number of pages.

It is all but impossible to tell in advance how long your book will be when completed, unless you are limited to a certain word or page count. A fiction book should not be constricted like that. A book should be just long enough to tell the story, and not a word longer. I would suggest you forget about length for now, and get a first draft written (if you have not already done so). The average mystery book runs probably 50,000-80,000 though many are shorter. If you end up with 20,000 words in your first draft, this is a sign that you will have to add more material or designate it a novella.

If on the other hand, you end up with 100,000 words, it is likely you will have to do some cutting. I say likely because some mysteries have required that many words to tell the complete story, but it's unusual. Mystery readers in general are not looking for a saga.

I hope this helps. If it does, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high score over 450 questions.

And good luck with your writing!  

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Susan Rand

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I can answer questions about the elements of fiction and non-fiction writing: how to get started, writing techniques, re-writing, etc. I will NOT write for you, do critiques except from my website at http://pygmypress.com, or give you ideas. I will not answer home-or-schoolwork questions in any category. If English is your second language, please say so, and I will make an exception. Please submit no more than one or two questions at once, as I tend to go into detail in my answers.

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I wrote my first book in 1957 and have been writing and studying writing since. I have a BA in Written Communications, and have taught writing both privately and through adult education for 15 years. Have also edited (fiction books) for an online publisher and edited/wrote more than 100 articles for a teen sex education site. Currently writing web content and mentoring beginning writers.

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BA degree in Written Communication

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