Friday, May 30, 2008

should I just count them myself?

Good grief, my head is spinning.

More and more agents have blogsites now, which prove to be very helpful, since many them are answering specific questions about what they will or will not accept. I cannot stress enough how important it is to read these blogs and these websites from cover to cover, metaphorically speaking. It's the one regret I have about querying my first novel -- I didn't do enough of this kind of focused research, and I think if I had I'd be blogging about the pending release of my novel right now instead of this. I went more for volume than content (the more agents the better, along with the generic cover letter), which is ironic considering how I'm constantly telling anyone who will listen that I do very poorly with high volume- high content.

But, as usual, I digress.

Anyhoo, I was looking for possible agents to query for my nonfiction book. In the course of my research, I stumbled upon an agent's blog in which the subject of Word Count came up.

I am more confused than ever.

It seems that when agents figure out word count, they are calculating the number of pages of your manuscript multiplied by 250 words, the average count for a page w/ 1-inch margins, courier font. I've been using the Microsoft Word word count number. And so far the number one comment from agents regarding my novel is that it isn't long enough.

So I did a little test.
For my first novel, MS Word has my count at approx 64,000 words and 275 pages. When I put it into Courier, it comes out to about 350 pages. Mulitply that by 250 words and you've got....... (drum roll, please).... 87,500 words.

Shit, man!

So, does that mean that all along I've had a decent word count?

It gets better. Because you should have seen the discussion following the post. Commenters say that in Times New Roman, you've got to multiply by 350 words because the font size is so much smaller. So, 275 pages x 350 words = (another drum roll).... 96,250 words.


What should I do?
Should I stick w/ the MS word count? Should I average out the two and say it's at 75,000 words? Should I specify on my query letter? ("At 64,000 MS Word ct, 87,500 traditional count, 75,000 avged, my novel is just too fabulous...")

Unfortunately, the blogger-agent didn't clarify beyond that, except to say that she uses the formula and not MS word. So now do I have to ask every single agent?


Anyone have any insight or experience w/ this?

Dilemma #2: Many of the same agents who look for chick lit fiction also look for self-help/spirituality non-fiction, which is what my non-fiction book falls under. Trust me, the subject matter of my fiction could not be more different from my nonfiction. I'm afraid to query these same agents for this nonfiction book because I'm afraid of pigeon-holing myself as just one type of writer. I don't want to shoot myself in the foot when it comes time to query for sarah's and my current novel (which, given the way things are going, will likely happen by the end of the summer). And given a choice between the two, I'd much rather hold out for the novel.

Is this foolish thinking? Is my inexperience w/ all this showing itself again? Again, I ask: does anyone have any insight or experience w/ this?

oy vey!!!

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