Word Counts for manuscripts

Counting words?

Quite some time ago, I was musing about word counts for children’s books. Different publishers have different guidelines and I was wondering if my manuscript was long enough.

The first draft, which I completed in the 2013 Chapter Book Challenge, was just shy of 9,000 words and is aimed at the 8-12 age range. The different publishers I was looking at ranged from 15,000 words to 50,000 words! To be honest, I was getting quite depressed about the whole thing.

Then I started working with an editor…

Most writers will tell you that editors just cut words, and this is partly true. I’ve found that my editor does cut words, but she also causes words to be added.

She asks questions about what has been written, suggests changes, rearranging of scenes, and much more. Right now, I’m in the process of rewriting and expanding a whole chapter, based on the work we have done on the rest of the story, and this isn’t the first time I’ve done this during the last year.

Right now, my manuscript is sitting at nearly 12,000 words, and this is likely to change as I continue to work on it.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned in this process is simple:

Remember, your first draft is just that – your first draft.

There are many more drafts to come between the first draft and the published book, whether you self publish or traditionally publish. With each draft, your work count is likely to change as words are cut, added, moved around, and anything else we do to it as our first draft is shaped into a publishable book.

If you are still working on your first draft and are worried that you don’t have enough words, or that you have too many, don’t worry as there are more drafts to come before your book ends up in the hands of your readers.

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