Word Count

Word count. Love ’em or hate ’em.

I remember being in school, and being given an assignment to write a 1,000 word essay on something, and feeling like the world had just ended. Oh, if I had only known then… Lately, I’ve made a habit of writing 100,000 word books left and right. The idea of writing something at 1,000 words feels trivial now.

Clare, an indispensable member of the team at Curiosity Quills, recently teased me for never having read the Harry Potter series. In a recent lull, I remedied that – binge reading the entire series while watching each respective movie between the books. (A rather striking example of the difference between movies and books dare I say. That old meme of the movie being the mere tip of the iceberg shines clear.)

I noticed the first book went pretty quick, and out of curiosity, I looked up the word counts for them.

Philospher’s Stone: 76,944

Chamber of Secrets: 85,141

Prisoner of Azkaban: 107,253

Goblet of Fire: 190,637

Order of the Phoenix: 257,045

Half-Blood Prince: 168,923

Deathly Hallows: 198,227

When I first started writing and trying to get published, I kept hearing people say that a long book is never going to get printed. The first novel I completed writing, Virtual Immortality, clocked in at 255k at first draft. (I wound up editing it down to 206k, but it snuck back up to 211k during edits.)

As I sought advice on publishing, I ran into some people who took it like blasphemy to suggest a book over 90k words had a chance in hell of getting picked up. These people got quite sanctimonious at the mention of The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss’s debut novel over 250k words. At that point words like ‘anomaly’ and ‘winning the lottery’ got thrown around. To hear them talk, a book must be within 70-80k words. Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but their advice – though given with a touch too much smarm – did have a point. While it is possible to have an agent or publisher pick up a brand new unheard-of author with a book outside the convention, it reduces the chances. It would have been better to hear “a book that big will be more difficult, you should consider writing something smaller,” rather than “oh, my God, you wrote a huge book for your first title? you are shitting over the entirety of publishing and offending the spirits of every dead author who’s ever put pen to paper!”

Okay, perhaps they weren’t quite that bad… but that’s the tone I took away from it. So, for any of you who might be wondering about getting that first book accepted by a publisher or by an agent, know that word count does matter. There is a preconception that a new writer will throw together 300,000 words of drek and hope to get signed. Thus, the larger a book, the less likely it is to get signed. However, if your work wows the agent/publisher/editor enough, the length can matter less. Some agents will see a wordcount past X and toss without even looking further. It’s a gamble.

In my case, I decided not to roll those dice, and wrote Division Zero #1. Compared to Virtual Immortality, it had only one main character (no rotating POV), and a less complex plot with fewer moving parts. Once that book got signed by Curiosity Quills, I sent them VI, and thankfully, they liked it.

It’s said that a writer doesn’t find their voice until they’ve written a million words. I’ve recently completed the first draft of Emma and the Elixir of Madness, the fourth book in the Tales of Widowswood series. At 90,147 words, it brings my lifetime word count (as of 3/9/17) up to 4,002,503. If there’s any truth to that ‘finding a voice’ thing, I hope I’ve done so. Maybe a writer is too close to ‘feel’ their own voice. If any of you think I ‘have’ a voice, please drop a comment : )

So for any of you who may be curious what my word counts look like–(I found the word counts of famous books fascinating)–here’s my list.

Happy reading!


Title Word Count Series
Prophet of the Badlands 144,279 Awakened
Archon’s Queen 126,855 Awakened
Grey Ronin 114,121 Awakened
Daughter of Ash 118,125 Awakened
Zero Rogue 106,528 Awakened
Angel Descended 197,421 Awakened
Hand of Raziel 144,876 Daughter of Mars
Araphel 114,175 Daughter of Mars
Ghost Black 111,508 Daughter of Mars
Division Zero 97,657 Division Zero
Division Zero: Lex De Mortuis 108,531 Division Zero
Division Zero: Thrall 144,914 Division Zero
Division Zero: Guardian 169,572 Division Zero
Heir Ascendant 113,000 Faded Skies
Ascendant Revolution 106,280 Faded Skies
One More Run (Novel) 136,291 Roadhouse Chronicles
The Redeemed (Roadhouse 2) 126,493 Roadhouse Chronicles
Dead Man’s Number (roadhouse 3) 140,152 Roadhouse Chronicles
Emma and the Banderwigh 59,410 Tales of Widowswood
Emma and the Silk Thieves 73,270 Tales of Widowswood
Emma and the Silverbell Faeries 66,974 Tales of Widowswood
Emma and the Elixir of Madness 90,147 Tales of Widowswood
Virtual Immortality 211,386 Virtual Immortality
The Harmony Paradox 231,536 Virtual Immortality
A Dream of Clouds (short) 20,290
Caller 107 54,625
Chiaroscuro: The Mouse and the Candle 100,741
Loose Ends (Short) 10,737
Maestro’s Requiem (Short) 13,066
Nine Candles of Deepest Black 109,045
Operation Chimera 42,180
Out of Sight (short) 19,530
Ruin of Man (short) 16,879
Stolen Orchid (short) 7,247
The Dysfunctional Comspiracy 110,942
The Eldritch Heart 128,707
The Far Side of Promise 108,500
The Old City (Short) 18,823
The Summer The World Ended 92,508
Wayfarer: AV494 98,509

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