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Trek Literature "...Good words. That's where ideas begin."

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Old August 22 2008, 09:33 AM   #1
Mistral
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for the authors

Stupid question, and the thread can be closed after a few reasonable answers, but how many words does your average novel run? I just can't bring myself to pulling out one of the many I have and begin counting...

I write some am stuff and I have a story that runs 70,000 words-is that a normal novel or a really big story or falling short of the mark?
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Old August 22 2008, 09:40 AM   #2
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Re: for the authors

There should be a slightly simpler way of getting a rough estimate, possibly with a margin of error of a few thousand words.

Multiply the average number of words in a line by the number of lines on a page. Then count how many pages, and multiply by that.
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Old August 22 2008, 09:48 AM   #3
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Re: for the authors

Mistral wrote: View Post
Stupid question, and the thread can be closed after a few reasonable answers, but how many words does your average novel run? I just can't bring myself to pulling out one of the many I have and begin counting...

I write some am stuff and I have a story that runs 70,000 words-is that a normal novel or a really big story or falling short of the mark?

Tie-in novels are normally between 80,000-100,000 words. General fiction in bookstores is usually 100-150,000 words.
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Old August 22 2008, 01:56 PM   #4
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Re: for the authors

Lonemagpie wrote: View Post
Tie-in novels are normally between 80,000-100,000 words. General fiction in bookstores is usually 100-150,000 words.
Unless certain authors are writing them in which case there's very little difference. But a benchmark of 100,000 words with 10% margin in either direction is about right.
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Old August 22 2008, 02:00 PM   #5
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Re: for the authors

According to Hugo rules, it's a novel if it clears 40K. However, those are usually considered "short novels". 100K is a good average to work around these days.
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Old August 22 2008, 02:01 PM   #6
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Re: for the authors

I typically ask for 100k words when contracting for a full-length novel, but that's just my idea of good target length.

That said, it's not unusual for some novels to come in short or long, owing to the needs of particular story or the writing style of a particular author. Unless the deviations from the contractual word count are really extreme, I never ask for cuts or additions based on length. The needs of the story come first.
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Old August 22 2008, 02:10 PM   #7
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Re: for the authors

^Still doesn't change the fact that Remembrance of Things Past actually constitutes my one and only Trek novel.

50K. Hugo rules would list it as a novel.
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Old August 22 2008, 02:36 PM   #8
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Re: for the authors

Marco Palmieri wrote: View Post
I typically ask for 100k words when contracting for a full-length novel, but that's just my idea of good target length.

That said, it's not unusual for some novels to come in short or long, owing to the needs of particular story or the writing style of a particular author. Unless the deviations from the contractual word count are really extreme, I never ask for cuts or additions based on length. The needs of the story come first.

In my own experience, on Dr Who we were asked for 70-90,000 words (obviously they're shorter now!) so 80,000 ish was about the average, and Final Destination and Twilight Of Kerberos were to be around the 100,000 mark. For Space 1999 it was "anything goes"
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Old August 22 2008, 02:48 PM   #9
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Re: for the authors

Lonemagpie wrote: View Post
In my own experience, on Dr Who we were asked for 70-90,000 words (obviously they're shorter now!) so 80,000 ish was about the average, and Final Destination and Twilight Of Kerberos were to be around the 100,000 mark. For Space 1999 it was "anything goes"
Exactly. It can vary considerably, depending on many different factors: the nature of the project, the budget, the editor's preferences, etc. For the two Myriad Universes volumes, I commissioned novels with a target word count of 50k words each. Out of the six, the shortest came in at 40k, the longest at close to 60k, and the rest fell in between.
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Old August 22 2008, 03:28 PM   #10
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Re: for the authors

Marco Palmieri wrote: View Post
Lonemagpie wrote: View Post
In my own experience, on Dr Who we were asked for 70-90,000 words (obviously they're shorter now!) so 80,000 ish was about the average, and Final Destination and Twilight Of Kerberos were to be around the 100,000 mark. For Space 1999 it was "anything goes"
Exactly. It can vary considerably, depending on many different factors: the nature of the project, the budget, the editor's preferences, etc. For the two Myriad Universes volumes, I commissioned novels with a target word count of 50k words each. Out of the six, the shortest came in at 40k, the longest at close to 60k, and the rest fell in between.
My shortest has been about 65k words, which I think was Wages Of Sin (about Rasputin). Longest book was...

Um,

Nonfiction actually (Beautiful Monsters) so doesn't count!
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Old August 22 2008, 03:57 PM   #11
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Re: for the authors

Lonemagpie wrote: View Post
For Space 1999 it was "anything goes"
There are new Space: 1999 books? Need to start looking around...
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Old August 22 2008, 06:12 PM   #12
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Re: for the authors

A lot of the mainstream fiction you see on SF shelves runs about 70,000 to 130,000 words, so Marco's target of 100,000 sounds just about right. (Obviously.)

Remember, though, that book publishers often use a slightly different way of actually calculating word counts, since a raw number (say, from a computer word-count function) doesn't accurately reflect the whitespace from paragraph breaks, chapter breaks, etc., all of which affect a book's physical length.

Generally, though it's not 100% accurate in the end, publishers will count your actual pages (which have paragraph breaks, etc.) rather than your raw number of words; and then multiply by a set number, usually 250 or something around there, to get an estimated word count. (I've heard as low as 235 and as high as 280; I suppose it depends on what kind of font the publisher typically uses, etc., when they set a number as the average words per page.)
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Old August 22 2008, 06:45 PM   #13
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Re: for the authors

It's too bad computer word counts aren't accurate or anything, because when I turned in my manuscript for Over a Torrent Sea, my word processor pegged it at exactly 88,000 words. I don't think that's ever happened before.

And I just realized I forgot to add headers and page numbering before I turned it in. Sorry, Marco, I hope that isn't a problem.
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Old August 22 2008, 07:06 PM   #14
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Re: for the authors

Thank you all-your answers were both informative and useful. I'll be subscribing to this thread so I can reference the specifics in the future. Terrio-this can be closed if you want from my viewpoint as my questions were answered and answered well.
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Old August 22 2008, 07:18 PM   #15
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Re: for the authors

Mistral wrote: View Post
Terrio-this can be closed if you want from my viewpoint as my questions were answered and answered well.
Uhm, I think mods can only close threads in the forums they're assigned to. So in this case only Emh or Rosalind could close it (or an admin).
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