How important is your manuscript word count?

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Sorry for the clumsy title, but I guess the question is kind of in it!

I was browsing Literary Rejections yesterday and came across a page which explored recommended word counts for different genres. It's here if anyone is interested: http://www.literaryrejections.com/word-count/

Then, when I was reading through tweets, I found this one by Polly Nolan of Greenhouse Literary Agency: "Think about word count. Average meaty YA novel is approx 70k words. MG shorter. New writers, are all those adjectives REALLY necessary?" (I hope it's okay to post a tweet)

What are your thoughts on this?

I wrote with word count in mind but, even so, I'm still just over what is expected for fantasy and I'm way over YA, and the book is YA fantasy!

Oh, and one more thing, how are you all going about estimating your word counts? I thought the one generated by Word would be enough but from what I've read you actually need to conjure spirits through a seance and ask them to do the maths for you. Well, that's what it looks like it's asking me to do anyway! :p
 
If you're a first time author looking for an agent, getting the word count right gives an agent one less reason to reject you. It's more important in some genres than others. It can be as much to do with publishers' printing costs and bookstore shelf space as reader expectations.
 
The Word word count is fine, as far as I'm aware - I've certainly never had any publisher object to it. But as far as YA goes, I'd echo that you are just giving one more reason to be rejected if you go far over that 50-70K range. Of course an established, popular author can get away with it, but when starting out, giving them a 100,000 word package is one more reason for a swift rejection!
 
Wow really? I have been informed on several occasions that a fantasy novel must be over 90,000 to account for world building. My first novel is 96,000 2nd is 128,000, 3rd to 5th I am aiming for between 120,000-150,000. In fact there are also a few fantasy agents who refused to have work submitted that was under 95,000 words, If I can find their links again I'll post them.

The Hunger Games debut novel is roughly 96,000

EDIT>>> What I mean by that last point is that the Hunger Games in a debut YA Fantasy at 96,000 odd :)
 
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Excellent points about staying within an expected range for the genre. Once you're established you can bend those rules a bit, but with your first one stay in the expected range for the genre. And yes, you can use the Word word count without any fear. :)
 
I use Open Office for writing, and like most it gives an exact word count, both total and for any highlighted selection. Interestingly, my first fantasy novel was 100,900 when I had no idea what they expected. I've completed 6 and all are around 95,000 - 100,000 although I never aimed for any specific target. Keeping literary agents happy is a tad tricky when they have such varying requirements, but then I guess we have to play their game to get a look in. I think as long as you are close to the accepted 'norm' you will be ok especially if what you write is good, very good.
 
Hmm, what a pickle! Unfortunately I pretty much took out anything that I felt wasn't necessary during my edits. It's a multi-stranded novel so it's not only world building bulking up the word count, but different characters, too! Ah well, if no one wants it (and I'm not about to think it'll be because of the word count alone) I'll try it as an ebook and hopefully build up some kind of audience ready for a second agent submission with another book.

It's a bit of a blind game this business! Thank you for all of your input, it's really helpful. :)
 
My laptop only has Notepad for writing, with no word count tool! As sitting and counting word-by-word would give me a massive headache, does anyone know any programs I can try?
 
Why not see if open office will download on to your laptop? It's free.
 
Has anyone heard of page count times 250 equals word count, provided the page is properly set up borders-wise and double spaced? So a 300 page ms set up like this would yield a word count of 75,000.
 
Any decent publisher program, like Open Office will give you word count, both for the entire document and for any highlighted selection. I haven't heard of a guess that there are 250 words per page, and it would vary a lot, especially depending on whether speech is on the page or not as that would change the total a lot. On your bases Tabby, my 340 page novels would be only about 85,000 words, whereas they are actually around 97,000 average. Best to be accurate I should think and impress the agents ;)
 
Many thanks to everyone for your advice, i found a program called 'kingsoft office' and it works like a charm. I didn't realize how many spelling errors I had, but my book is a healthy 71,000+ words.
 
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