First off, I know y’all read the Smart Bitches, but I’ll post a link to the word count discussion anyway. Then absolutely go read Diana’s rant, which, quite frankly, is more of an excellent explanation than a rant. I mean, she didn’t even use the F word. *g*
I said I’d blog about writing today, and lucky me—a topic pops up in time to meet the deadline. (If I write fast.) So for my take, I took two Word files—the manuscripts for Twice Upon A Roadtrip and Forever Again and played ring around the word count with them. (Word count=the actual computer word count; page count=the “magic formula” equaling 250 words per page.)
Word count = 50,839 words
Page count = 55,750 words
Twice Upon A Roadtrip:
Word count = 46,022 words
Page count = 52,250 words
In neither case did I change a single word. Reformatting only.
Pretending the numbers for Forever Again belonged to a…Silhouette something or other, and Silhouette announced the word count was formerly 55k but is now 50k, that might look bad. But if a part of that change is switching from using page count to using word count, it wouldn’t affect my story at all, nor what the reader is getting.
So. Hypothetically, if Ellora’s Cave were to do the opposite of Harlequin/Silhouette and change from computer word count to page count, the word count for Roadtrip would increase from 46,022 words to 52,250 words. Are you getting more story for your money? No. You’re getting the exact same story for your money.
I love dialogue, and I’m also very conscious of paragraph length and white space, so it really would make a difference to my publisher if they had a set number of pages in each book. That white space has to be accounted for. (And I’m honestly surprised that H/S would move to word count for just that reason—their authors vary, some having more dense narrative, and some with more white space and word count won’t factor that in.)
I don’t think word count discussions are quite as irrelevant as others do. As you can see from the examples, which method a publisher uses can most definitely affect how your word count matches up with their requirements, possibly making you look like a dumbass. Following submission guidelines is of the utmost importance, and missing the word count by 3k in a novella submission never makes a good first impression. On the flipside of that, an editor with any experience can tell at a glance which method you used, so it’s not the end of one’s writing career, either.
Personally, I love page count. *g* I feel like I move along at a faster clip because the pages roll by. When you use computer word count and you’re averaging 478 words per page, it takes for-ev-er to get to the next page.
So, anyway. To get to the point…I don’t have one. It usually takes a few days for an accurate picture of what’s going on up at the Woolworth Building to shake down through the blogosphere, so I’m just going to sit back and watch.