Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Worked Myself Into A Tizzy For Nothing

Twitchy eye syndrome set in a few minutes ago when I started to write this blog. I was in a tizzy, worrying about my word count...trying hard to understand if I'm doing something wrong in how I'm counting them...

In a way, I have...I've relied on my computer to tell me what my word count is for as long as I've been doing this...(the past 2 1/2 years! LOL)

Yes, I'm guilty of allowing my computer tell me what to do (shhh...)

Then it strikes me- what about that 250 wpp x page count thing I had nearly forgotten from years ago when researching about writing and publishing and submissions, etc...

Oh, yeah...Times your total pages by 250 (approximate words per page) and you'll have your word count. The one you should probably rely on when submitting. I also remembered I have the link in my favorites for The Passionate Pen site and guess what- Jenna Petersen recommends going by the 250 by page count. http://www.passionatepen.com/formatarticle.htm

Here I've been thinking that my manuscripts are WAY too short because they are only around 55K-70K when I type "The End." I've already revised one novel and brought the word count up into the 80k range only to discover I have 400 pages and guess what??? 400 X 250= 100,000 words by that count. A bit TOO long, don't you think?

Man I feel like an idiot!!!

I went back and looked over the ones I haven't revised or added more to and guess what? They actually come close to being in a proper range already! Ha! I've been stressing and adding so much more to bring up that computer generated word count. I'm glad I caught myself before I revised my little brains out and THEN came to this realization! Lord help me, I would have spent weeks and months making possible unnecessary changes or additions that I might not need to. Doesn't hurt that I copied the original file so I've still got my original first draft to fall back to if I screwed up royally during revisions and need to back track to what I had originally.

Time to take the amount of pages into account, too!

Which means now I can start revisions and polishing, editing and checking grammar and deciding if any of the "new scenes" I added are worth keeping or tossing. If I find something that doesn't suit the story, I can take it out or add something in, but also KNOW my correct range and not only that, but perhaps if I don't spend the next few months struggling to fluff the stories, I'll be able to start writing and sending out query letters that much sooner.

And start writing my next novel sooner, too. (and maybe with a bit of a better head on my shoulders! LOL)

Come on- laugh with me or at me...take your pick! LOL

I'll leave on this note tonight after my gaffe for the day- a cute story-

"Jack who?"

I was sitting here at the computer this evening and my daughter was bouncing a ball to my left. I glanced over and saw one of those huge jumping brown spiders. You know the kind that run fast and sometimes "jump" and they have toothpicks for legs? Well, it was crawling on the recliner and I gasped and told my daughter to get back, away from the chair. My husband asks what it was and I pointed to the spider and tried to spit the word out (I hate hate hate spiders- especially those kind). He grabbed a tennis shoe and came toward it and it moved away from him just as he was about to squash it and gets up on the arm of the chair. My daughter's squealing "Daddy, get it! It's going to get on you!"

I'm panicking and about to come up out of my chair if it gets on our dark burgundy carpet because I know it will blend in and get away. He brings the shoe down on it and says. "It's not going to get on jack now."

It was dead and he was looking for a tissue or something to get it off the chair and our daughter goes- "Who's Jack?"

Ahhhh....the mentality of a 6 year old!

Good night- hopefully I'll be thinking more clearly tomorrow.


Devon Matthews said...

Taryn, I'm not going to laugh at you. You know why? Because the debate over computer word count vs. page count has been going on as long as I've been part of the romance community and even longer, I'm sure.

It depends on who you talk to. More and more, publishers are going by computer count. Avon (Jenna's pub) still goes by page count, as far as I know. But others are switching over to computer count. Harlequin, for one. I wish they'd all put their heads together and decide on a standard they could ALL go by. It's enough to drive you nuts.

Here's something else that makes me bonkers. Each publisher wants a DIFFERENT word count. So, if I'm writing a ms., am I supposed to write several different versions geared toward each publisher? Dorcherster wants 80-90K. Kensington wants 85-100. And Harlequin Historicals only wants 75K. So, I'm gearing all my mss. toward 85K. That seems like a happy medium. But if I decide to submit to HH, I'll have to cut out 10,000 wds. It's nuts!

I've often wondered why RWA doesn't ask all the pubs to state in their guidelines how they calculate their wd. count. It sure would help.

Taryn Raye said...

See, I don't get that either...So I could still be adding to mine-just to be on the safe side, eh? Like I was already doing?

Cause if I get about 400 ms. pages, then that puts me somewhere in the 80-85K range by computer wd ct.- 100K by page count- or so I've noticed when I was looking over each of my word count vs. page count totals last night.

See, I haven't even picked a specific publisher to submit to just yet. I'm in a quandry over whether to query to an agent first instead. I did look to see if any of the pubs mention how they calculate the word count and found no answers, but then I was so mixed up last night, I might've overlooked something! LOL

I could barely get to sleep last night, my mind was still racing.

I think for now I'm going to fall back to what I was already doing and stop worrying about it too much. If I have to change the word/page count later, than so be it, but for now I just need to concentrate on getting my revisions and editing done. Worrying about it will do nothing but drive me into a nervous conniption fit and it's not worth it! LOL

Thanks so much. You're always such a great help! {{hugs}}

Taryn Raye said...

No sooner than I posted to this, I did a search for "how publishers calculate word count" and found this gem of a page on Agent Query about format and such- Makes a LOT of sense.


Jennifer Madden said...

Thanks for that link. It answers a lot of questions without dancing around the answers. I was surprised by the word count thing, because the 250 per page formula is on a lot of sites. I thought that was standard. computer countsmake sense though.
So I guess you keep fluffing, huh?

Taryn Raye said...

YW Jennifer.

Yep..I guess I'll keep fluffing cause I don't want to send a novel out that's actually too short because of miscalculations on my part. LOL

Sort of like with clothes...it's always better to buy a size larger than smaller, cause at least then you can cinch it or take it in! Hehe!

Devon Matthews said...

Taryn, I'm glad you found that info. I didn't want to come out and tell you, don't listen to so-and-so because you could find probably 500 so-and-sos who would swear by the page count method. But I think it's becoming obsolete. To be on the safe side, I'd go by computer count.

As that article said, there are all kinds of ways to get the page count you want just by playing with the settings. I've done it before for contests that only allowed so many pages. But anything that goes by actual word count is pretty impossible to fool. ;o)

Taryn Raye said...

I know what you mean Devon..the searches I've done just this morning gave me proof enough that word count calculations are all over the board and it just depends on who you ask. LOL

I'm just glad I'm figuring it out today and not three or four months from now and then going- wait! I didn't have to do all that? LOL