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Author Topic: word count, page count and prologue  (Read 1239 times)
poeticGeek
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« on: December 06, 2018, 08:41:38 AM »

Got a few questions regarding querying that were probably answered before but I havent found the answers yet.

Word count

Should I be using what MSWord is telling me the count is or should i go by the formula I've often seen mentioned - 'character count divided by 6' Huh?

Page count

How do you count a page? Is it by words? then how many? Or simply using TimesNewRoman 12 in MSWord and copying whatever fits into the first 10 pages (for example) Huh?

Prologue

When an agent asks for the first 10 pages of my MS. Should I take those from the prologue or from my first chapter? I have a pretty long prologue so I feel torn because if I send the actual first pages they arent going to show the main plot but rather the exposition from my prologue... Is there a convention regarding this Huh?

Thanks!
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jessikalindst
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« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2018, 09:35:00 AM »

From my experience, word count can vary but typically it's 250 (it can be a couple words over even) though just as long as it is one page in length, you'll be fine. Here's some examples of successful queries you can look through as well: https://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/successful-queries

Now for your page count question, are you asking in regards to the sample pages?

When agents ask for the first x amount of pages, they mean just that, so yes, include your prologue. If it's a few pages over it's fine because sometimes pages will end awkwardly, such as right when a character is saying something or a thought is cut off, etc.

Hope this helps!  Smiley
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Rachael846
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« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2018, 04:20:18 PM »

Yep, if you have a prologue that counts as the first pages. If they're not strong enough to hook an agent, they won't be strong enough to hook an editor or an eventual buyer. If you feel nervous about them, consider whether you want to keep them. Be brave though. My agent asks for people to send their first chapter with their query letter, and it kind of threw me, because my first chapter is much shorter than most of the other chapters. It's only two pages and it is a little bit like a prologue (but actually part of a frame narrative). Anyway, I ended up doing what she asked and just sending those two pages since it's the first chapter, but it worked out. It hooked her, and she was desperate for more. Just really reassess whether you're happy with that being the first thing people are going to read in your book, and if you're not comfortable with that, change the book.

Just use the word count that Microsoft Word gives you. And round up or down. Why would you need a page count? That's not normally a thing people ask for.
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TigerAsh
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« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2018, 08:18:51 PM »

Got a few questions regarding querying that were probably answered before but I havent found the answers yet.

Word count

Should I be using what MSWord is telling me the count is or should i go by the formula I've often seen mentioned - 'character count divided by 6' Huh?

I've never heard of the "character count divided by 6" formula before. It's fine to just use the word count given by Microsoft Word.

Page count

How do you count a page? Is it by words? then how many? Or simply using TimesNewRoman 12 in MSWord and copying whatever fits into the first 10 pages (for example) Huh?

At first I was confused as to why you need page count; but I assume you're talking about sample pages that you sometimes have to submit along with the query letter.
Going off the 10 pages example, you would just use the first 10 pages of your manuscript as it appears in Microsoft Word (or the PDF, or Scrivener, or wherever you wrote the manuscript). Obviously you want to follow the agent's guidelines; but if the 10 pages you took from your manuscript shows up as 9 pages or 11 pages on their screen, they aren't going to penalize you for it. Smiley



Prologue

When an agent asks for the first 10 pages of my MS. Should I take those from the prologue or from my first chapter? I have a pretty long prologue so I feel torn because if I send the actual first pages they arent going to show the main plot but rather the exposition from my prologue... Is there a convention regarding this Huh?

Always start at the beginning. So if your manuscript has a prologue, use the prologue. If you're concerned that the prologue won't grab/hold the agent's attention, then you need to ask yourself whether the prologue is necessary for the story (or if it could be shorter, if it could pack more of a punch, etc.).

Thanks!

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poeticGeek
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« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2018, 05:21:24 AM »

Thanks everyone for your replies. Very useful.

The question I asked about the word-count is that MSWord is adding 20,000 more words on top of my already "long" debut MS.
MSWord gives me 190,000 since it considers "a" and "an" as words. char-count-divide-by-6 (which is what i understand is how publishers calculate word-count)  is more accurate and gives me a lower count so I hoped it was the standard Smiley
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007 fan
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Eye right store ease.


« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2018, 04:23:55 PM »

Thanks everyone for your replies. Very useful.

The question I asked about the word-count is that MSWord is adding 20,000 more words on top of my already "long" debut MS.
MSWord gives me 190,000 since it considers "a" and "an" as words. char-count-divide-by-6 (which is what i understand is how publishers calculate word-count)  is more accurate and gives me a lower count so I hoped it was the standard Smiley

I've never heard of "a" and "an" not counting as words.

Anyway, for an unknown writer w/o notoriety in other ways (famous), 190k is going to be too high. Even 175k is too high (I peeked at your first posted query). I'd suggest splitting your novel, but oftentimes where an author ended the story is the best place to end the story. You might have to do some trimming. Lots of ways to do that w/o removing the good stuff. I speak from experience, having considered splitting my debut, which was at 210k when I first queried it. After getting feedback, a split was not doable and I was encouraged to do my best at trimming. That turned out to be the best thing. Gained a ton of experience that route and worked my novel down to 96k. The other option is doing a rewrite with count in mind, but I suggest getting into the groove of cutting to see if that's possible. You might only cut 10k in your first pass, but then you'll be taking all that experience of that first pass to a second one and find more to cut, etc. It took many passes for me to get my count down. Some stuff went, but not the good stuff, and I was able to add new stuff and flesh out existing goodies w/o removing any characters or subplots.

There are sites that talk about how to trim writing. There is a thread in, I believe, the 'query help' forum with something in the title like, "help, my word count is thru the roof and I'm crying" where a bunch of us gave tips on how to get count down. I don't remember what page it's on, but it's from within the last 4 years. You could probably begin your search on page 3, then go to 4, etc. 

Good luck with whatever you decide.  Smiley
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