How Many Words in a Book?

by OnTheWayOut 7 Replies latest social entertainment

  • OnTheWayOut

    I have been working on an autobiography. I really had wondered if I would ever try to get it published while my mother is still alive because it's about getting into and out of the JW's. As a fader, it would have to be submitted under an assumed author-name with some of the basic facts slightly reorganized and all the names changed to protect the fader.

    Anyway, I am up to about 22,000 words at somewhere between one-third and one-half of the way to the end. I found it quite easy to slightly disguise the facts that point to the real me. A few serious JW's could read it and know it was me, but serious JW's would never completely read my book and then they could not PROVE it was me.

    I got to wondering, "How many words are needed to make a book?" A quick internet search got me the ZEN answer- "As many words as it takes and not one more." That answer popped up more often than one would believe. Still, I assumed that most publishers don't subscribe to ZEN thinking when it comes to their final decisions.

    The best answers I have received are that a book for adults can be as little as 35,000 words but that a minimum of 50,000 and a more common 60,000 to 70,000 words would be what is expected. MS WORD does a nice job of word counting. I can easily see my book breaking the 50,000 word minimum and when I add in the introduction about why I must remain anonymous, I will be somewhere in the 60,000 word range.

    All the answers I found really focused on "just telling the story" and letting things like word-count come later. I was just trying to get an idea if I had a real actual "BOOK" in the works. I think I do, I think I may finish this book in 2010 and start the process of getting it published. I will have to go the route of a fake name. If it does get published, I will have to let some of my JWN friends know that the story is from OTWO.

    So, any thoughts of encouragement or advice from those that write would be greatly appreciated.

  • snowbird

    Advice given to me by an English professor: Write what you know, and just let it flow!



  • OnTheWayOut

    It's flowing right now. Thanks.

  • snowbird


  • Nathan Natas
    Nathan Natas

    Hi OTWO,

    Here are the stats from some books I have recently worked with:

    book "A": 315 pages, 123,496 words.

    book "B": 181 pages, 51,518 words

    booklet "C": 72 pages, 18,358 words

    Average of 254 words per page in the booklet; 352 words per page in an 8.5"x11" book.

  • garyneal

    When you publish it, let us know. I would be very interested in reading it.

  • OnTheWayOut

    I will send out a private thread that says "Hey, I read a great book. You guys should really buy it. I don't know the author, but he's a lot like us."

    Or something like that.

  • JeffT

    I'm currently working on a couple of novels, so I've done a bunch of research on this. From what I have been able to find, when they're asking for a word count what they really need to know is how much paper it will take to publish it. Format your page so that it has about an inch of margin on the sides and one and a half top and bottom. Use 11 or 12 point font. Double spaced, you should end up with about 25 lines per page and 50-60 characters per line. Multiply the number of pages by 250 and you have your word count. 80,000 words is sort of the minimum for adult fiction. I think a memoir could be a bit smaller.

    Nathan, you have a PM.

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