Monday, January 19, 2015

Word Count vs. Page Number

(In which I rant, admittedly likely unfoundedly, about people using "page number" when we should all switch to "word count"...)

I found an article this morning called The 10 Best Books Shorter than 150 Pages by Sarah Gerard.  While the article is informative and interesting (and gave me a few more books to add to my every growing 'Need to read again' list), I can't help but nitpick on one point.  Why is it that we use the archaic "page count" when talking about books?

It must be a habit that we're having a hard time breaking.  Because when I read on my Kindle, the page count varies from setting to setting.  Font size, header and footer size, page width, it all varies.  And aren't there large print editions of these books that would have a different page count?  Not to mention that the audiobook versions of these titles have no page count.  But the WORD COUNT remains the same.

At a meeting of the California Writer's Club, Berkeley Branch yesterday, I was speaking with some friends about word counts for Blog Posts.  Word Counts.  Not Page counts.  We discussed a Critique Group in Berkeley that suggests the writers who sign up for a critique session to bring in 1,200 words.  Not 3 pages or 5 pages.

I would love to see this change.  Instead of a "300 page novel" let's start saying a "80k word novel" or a "40k word novella" or a "10k word novelette" ... Unless I'm mistaken, in which case, please give me insight!  Answer my question!  Why "page number" and not "word count"?

-Missy Kirtley

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