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Friday, February 12, 2016

How Long Is That Book?

My friends, there are many differences between a novel writer and a novel reader. For the sake of time, I'm going to focus this entry on one of those differences:

Novel Length

I've been writing novels since 2008. Every now and then, a friend, family member, or fan will ask me, "How long is your book?"

And my response to that question, much to the chagrin of the person asking, is always inevitably a word count.

"Core of the Nations is about 56,000 words."
"The Network is about 71,000 words."
"The Shadow Wielder is about 100,000 words."

I then usually get a blank look. Almost like I've rattled off an awesome mathematical riddle I'm forcing them to solve. Then, the inevitable follow up question, associated with a furrowed brow.

"How many pages is that?"

Yes, my friends, therein lies the difference of measurement between writer and reader. We measure word counts, not page counts. If you're a writer, you already know why we do this. If you're a reader, let me explain.

First of all, page counts are misleading. For example, if you were to buy hard copies of Core of the Nations and The Network, they appear to be about the same size. They have very nearly the same amount of pages as each other. But there is a 17,000 word difference between the two. Core of the Nations is published in a larger font. Also, the formatting is much different.

Most online resources say that 250 words equals roughly one page. So when people ask for a translation from words to pages, I usually use that standard. So, by that standard:

Core of the Nations is about 224 pages.
The Network is about 284 pages.
The Shadow Wielder is about 400 pages.

When writers get together, they talk word counts. Most word processors track word counts. The software I use to write my novels tracks my word counts. It's an accurate way for me to gauge how I'm doing with my writing. I can generally write about 1,000 words of solid writing in an hour. Other writers can bust out a lot more than that, others take their time.

Well, now you've been edumacated on this difference between writers and readers. Wanna impress an author friend? Ask them how many words their novel is. Wanna really impress them? Use that 250 page golden standard, solve the math, and tell them how many pages their book is.

Happy writing and reading, friends!