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Open letter to Authors Regarding Page Counts
#21  Hitch 05-19-2019, 02:28 PM
Quote gmw
I have to disagree about length being unimportant in ebooks. The first part of the disagreement comes because I also publish in paper so have to consider that (and would prefer not to maintain separate editions). But the biggest factor is that people can be quite reluctant to buy a 300k word novel, even if price wasn't an issue, but most especially when pricing might be around 3 x 100k novels - if we were going to price it close to fairly. (Of course, book pricing doesn't really work like that.) Size really does affect your marketing and pricing options, even in ebooks.
Warning, OT, kinda (tangentially related):

We're doing a print layout on a 335K-word novel. I'm breath-holding, trying to make sure that the bloody thing meets the 2.25" wide maximum for a spine size (~828 pages/400-ish sheets at KDP); that's a physical limitation of perfect-bound books, and yet is still readable. It will be a d@mned relief when we get to the eBook stage! This is the client's 3rd book of 4, none of them short, but this is the monster of the group. Talk about prolific...

Hitch
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#22  skb 05-19-2019, 06:18 PM
Quote Dr. Drib
His problem was thinking that a word length of 30,000 falls into the novelette category. (Novelette: 7,500 - 17,500)

Most editors (and writers, too, I imagine) would consider that length to be in the novella category. I know I do. (Novella: 20,000 - 40,000)

There is no exact word count, as you know, for any category, but still....
This reminds me of the hilarious interpretations of terms that are used in fanfiction:

Drabble: 100 words exactly (unless it's not).
Ficlet: Up to 1,000 words (unless it's not)
One Shot: One chapter (who knows how many words) of short-ish length. (unless it's not).

Like some of the old etymologists, I rail against the drabble being anything other than exactly 100 words but it's a losing battle.
Quote Dr. Drib
Off-Topic for a new thread: Why is the Writers' Corner so moribund?
Especially as this is my favorite forum (fora?)
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#23  Barbara1955 05-19-2019, 06:41 PM
I some times wonder what the Cut from the books when they e-book them. Like getting an Abridged book. How do you loose 100 pages? HB 700 pages Starting at Chapter 1..... Stopping at the End of the last chapter. PB same. E-Book 600 they even count cover to cover!!
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#24  dwig 05-19-2019, 07:03 PM
Quote Barbara1955
I some times wonder what the Cut from the books when they e-book them. Like getting an Abridged book. How do you loose 100 pages? HB 700 pages Starting at Chapter 1..... Stopping at the End of the last chapter. PB same. E-Book 600 they even count cover to cover!!
Usually nothing it cut; that would be too much work.

Ebooks do not have pages, so any reference to pages for an ebook is either to some fake word-per-page calculation or is a reference to some print version. Print versions will vary with with paper size and typography even when they contain exactly the same words. Similarly, ebook vendors' page count info will vary with their word-per-page calculations or with which print version they use for reference.
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#25  haertig 05-19-2019, 07:09 PM
I don't understand why some people say it's difficult to provide a word count. That should be so trivial. Start with the first word of chapter 1, and end with the last word of the final chapter. Do not include anything else - no table of contents, appendix, preface, epilogue, etc. In some books the preface and epilogue are part of the story, but in other books, not so much. Too bad - "the standard" says they don't get included in word counts. If an author feels so strongly that they want to protest, just name them "Chapter One - Preface" and e.g., "Chapter 27 - Epilogue". Any word between chapter one and the final chapter gets counted - even if it's, say, a caption under a picture. Or even if the actual words are "chapter six". Whatever markup language is used to publish books these days is no doubt easily parseable for a very accurate computer-generated word count.

It really isn't difficult to come up with a reasonable standard - unless the point is to avoid a reasonable standard in the first place - which I'm guessing might be a big part of the problem. The authors/publishers don't want a standard so they can continue to dodge/manipulate specifying a word count that would be useful to consumers.
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#26  Little.Egret 05-19-2019, 11:38 PM
Quote dwig
Usually nothing it cut; that would be too much work.

Ebooks do not have pages, so any reference to pages for an ebook is either to some fake word-per-page calculation or is a reference to some print version. Print versions will vary with with paper size and typography even when they contain exactly the same words. Similarly, ebook vendors' page count info will vary with their word-per-page calculations or with which print version they use for reference.
SF readers may know of the categories used for the Hugo awards

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugo_Award#Categories


Best Novel 1953 Stories of 40,000 words or more

Best Novella 1968 Stories of between 17,500 and 40,000 words

Best Novelette 1955 Stories of between 7,500 and 17,500 words

Best Short Story 1955 Stories of less than 7,500 words

==

Back when, no one felt short changed by Rocannon's World by Ursula K. LeGuin first published as an ACE double.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocannon%27s_World

But note definitions of 'word' differ by word processor for the more obscure cases or even whether hyphenated words are counted as two.
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#27  Hitch 05-20-2019, 10:13 AM
Quote haertig
I don't understand why some people say it's difficult to provide a word count. That should be so trivial. Start with the first word of chapter 1, and end with the last word of the final chapter. Do not include anything else - no table of contents, appendix, preface, epilogue, etc. In some books the preface and epilogue are part of the story, but in other books, not so much. Too bad - "the standard" says they don't get included in word counts. If an author feels so strongly that they want to protest, just name them "Chapter One - Preface" and e.g., "Chapter 27 - Epilogue". Any word between chapter one and the final chapter gets counted - even if it's, say, a caption under a picture. Or even if the actual words are "chapter six". Whatever markup language is used to publish books these days is no doubt easily parseable for a very accurate computer-generated word count.

It really isn't difficult to come up with a reasonable standard - unless the point is to avoid a reasonable standard in the first place - which I'm guessing might be a big part of the problem. The authors/publishers don't want a standard so they can continue to dodge/manipulate specifying a word count that would be useful to consumers.
I actually agree with this. I am boggled, daily, by the fact that when I ask people who call me what their word count is, almost none of them can tell me. They all use pages as their metric, which, to me, makes NO sense. I mean, 10 pages of 6pt Arial is different than 10 pages of TNR 12pt, right? Sheesh.

At my shop, we use SFWA numbers. {shrug}. Why fight it?

Hitch
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#28  FrustratedReader 06-16-2019, 03:27 PM
Only word count means anything about size. Also size only tells you if a short story, novella, novel or maybe epic (> 200,000 words). Size tells you nothing about quality. Also page count is irrelevant and always has been even on paper (size, margins, line spacing, font and font size).

I count from the first word of story to the last. I've stopped putting chapters labelled Prologue (because some seem to think this can be skipped or is a Preface) and Epilogue (because some people think it can be skipped or is like an Appendix).
I don't count Notes, Appendix, Blurbs, Contents, About <whatever>. Just the story. It's easy, though not 100% accurate. I round down as I am too lazy to select all the chapter headings and subtract. Some books don't have chapters (see many Terry Pratchett Discworld) and others don't put the word 'Chapter'. I save, I select in front of first Chapter and at the end of last Chapter and click "Word Count". I write that on a piece of paper, go back to end of Copyright section and type in the word count.

Quote
10,000 words or fewer is normally thought of as a short story; then there's a wide grey area and you have the novelette, or novella (both words diminutives of "novel") of 20,000-40,000 or a bit more, and then you blur into novels. But there are no hard-and-fast boundaries.
Agreed, there are no definite boundaries. 1,000 words is certainly a short story. About 25,000 is a novella. Roughly 40,000 to 120,000 is a typical novel. But the boundaries are not agreed or clear.
In reality "genre" is a publisher invention too. Certainly some stories are obviously Detective, Romance, Adventure, Erotic, Space Opera, SF, Fantasy etc. But this is a more modern distinction and SP or indie fiction may not have as clear genre boundaries.
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#29  Pulpmeister 06-24-2019, 10:23 PM
At some point in publishing, whether print or digital, there is a word processing document, and the word count of the submitted document is automatically available. When I'm creating an e-book for the Library here, if it is of an unusual length (short or long) I often note the word count. Although I see I have posted The Shriek, the 1923 burlesque of E M Hull's 1921 novel The Sheik without noting that is is 23,600 words, according to the bottom left hand corner of Office Word. I did note on the books by Nathanael West their unusual brevity when I uploaded them.

Word count has been used in the publishing trade for years, if not centuries. Authors of magazine fiction were paid by word count. It's no hassle, it's comparable across formats and page sizes, lets go with it...

Except, in the print world, as Private Eye Magazine's cynical reviewer notes, there are books with wide margins, thick paper, and substantial "leading" (wider spacing between lines) to make a more saleable package, and naturally the publisher is not going to damage itself by proudly bragging on the back cover blurb that it is only 38,000 words.

(197 words not counting this line!)
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#30  FrustratedReader 06-25-2019, 05:15 AM
The main problem with ebooks is Amazon. They insist on listing a meaningless page count.
I've started putting the approximate main text word count in the extended 'blurbs' and I put it on the copyright page.
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