When writing to become published, whether that be traditionally or self-published, your word count is of crucial importance. You might think it’s no big deal, and you might just write until you feel the story is done, but please don’t let yourself fall into this trap. You’ll only make things harder for yourself further down the line.
Isn’t writing hard enough as it is?
There are a lot of things that go into writing a book. Monitoring your word count is just another one of those things. Sure, it’s not one of the fun things like creativity and building characters, but it’s still just as important.
At this point, you might be wondering why your word count is so important. Well, luckily for you, in this article, we’re going to break it down and look into it a little deeper. The early bird catches the worm, right? So you had better start paying attention sooner rather than later.
The Genre You Write in Has General Guidelines
Whether you knew it or not, every publishable genre has loosely based guidelines. Things like: what you can and can’t include, what sorts of themes have to exist in the book, the type of narrative tone/perspective it should adopt – there are quite a number of things to consider.
One of those things, yep, you guessed it, is the word count.
Now you’re itching to know how many words your book should be, aren’t you? Well, you can find some loose guidelines here. They aren’t set in stone, just based on industry standards and past recommendations. Check them out to see how many words you should be aiming for.
Word Count is Important in Publishing for the Same Reason
So we’ve established that genres have word counts, right? Well, guess where it goes from here? That’s right, to the wonderful world of the publishing industry.
Now, if you’re someone who is looking to be traditionally published, this is even more important for you. But even when self-publishing, the word count is relevant. No one wants to read a YA Romance novel that’s two-hundred-thousand words long. And I’m almost certain you don’t want to pay to have that volume of material printed. Yikes. Talk about a hole in your pocket…
For all of you seeking traditional publication out there, look at it like this: imagine you’re the chief editor of a publishing house or an agent at an agency. Let’s play make-believe here.
So, you’re sat at your desk, and you’re presented with two manuscripts. Both are crime novels and they’re both almost perfectly written. They’re both unique, have their own narrative voice and flow, and touch on subjects that have never been covered in the world of crime fiction before.
One of the manuscripts is around eighty-five thousand words in length – a beautiful word count for a crime fiction novel. The other sits at just over one-hundred-twenty thousand, and needs to lose at least twenty-thousand words before you can do anything with it. Cutting twenty thousand words, without affecting the plot at all? That’s no easy feat.
Which are you going to choose?
Are you going to give yourself lots of extra, unnecessary work? Or are you going to send that sucker right along to your editors and have it printed in the next couple months?
Get my point? I thought you might.
Pay Attention and Adjust
So, now that you know a little about word counts and why they’re so important, you can go on to make sure your manuscript’s word count is in a good place. Of course, there are exceptions to these rules. If by some miracle you’re the greatest writer who ever lived, and come up with a fictional realm beyond anything the world has ever seen, you’ll get a little leeway.
It’s probably best to play it safe though. Hey, not to say you aren’t the best writer in the world… I just wouldn’t take the risk. Besides, it’s better to be the best writer in the world within the word count guidelines than the best writer in the world outside of them.
Safety first and all that – especially where your novel is concerned. That’s your baby, your pride and joy. Don’t throw it all away by thinking you’re above industry standards and regulations. Because, trust me, nobody is…
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