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2 Million Words – How Many is That?

Karin Kallmaker Book News, Business of Books, Unforgettable

With the completion of Frosting on the Cake 2, I reached a milestone: my manuscript output crossed the 2 million word mark. (Most of them were correctly used, too, I’m pleased to say.)

In the increasing landscape of digital books, word count has become more important and page count more and more confusing. Take my own Unforgettable, for instance. It’s been published in three editions, each containing the same 70,000+ word book. The first printing was by Naiad Press in 2000. Their edition runs a total of 272 pages. When Bella Books acquired the reprint rights and published a new edition in circa 2005, they were able to use the Naiad typeset, so it’s also 272 pages. In 2009, Bella digitized the book and printed a new edition using their house standard type, lines per page, spacing and margins. The result is the same book in 217 pages, 55 fewer pages.

Add to that Bella’s pure white, low pulp acid-free paper and tight binding and this edition, on the shelf, looks half the size of the Naiad version. It’s beautifully sleek, but I’ll admit when I first saw it I thought something had to have been left out. But no, it’s all there. I wish my entire library was printed so cleanly–I’m running out of shelf room!

What Exactly Does 2 Million Words Mean?

So back to my original purpose of the post–what does 2 million words mean? If you’re an ebook user, being told it’s 7,500 or so pages isn’t terribly helpful. From my point-of-view, it’s 26 novels, 3 collections of my own short stories in one volume, 2 collections of short stories written with one other author, and 4 collections of novellas written with 3 other authors. There’s about 30 other short stories and a couple of essays scattered in different anthologies and publications and it hurts my head to include them. (Maybe they’re 90K words more?)

Recognizing that it’s a difficult task to evaluate how long a book is these days, I’ve added the word count information for all my novels and similar projects to each web site page for each book. Some of my older books were written with each chapter in its own Word document, making it somewhat onerous to calculate, but at least I can say that a computer document from 1993 can still be opened and read. Something in the computer world has longevity after all.

Is Page Count Useful?

The data underscores the increasing difficulty of gauging a book’s length based on page count. My shortest book is The Dawning, but by the page count it’s All the Wrong Places, which is my 7th shortest book. My longest book is Warming Trend (close with Sleight of Hand) but going on page count, Frosting on the Cake looks as long.

Add this to the pile of information I find interesting and I’m sharing with the world even though I’m sure many of you are puzzled about why I think it’s interesting. I also like sometimes to simply sit and look at my books, as if my shelf were a garden. Whenever I finish a project–and I’ve sent Frosting on the Cake 2 to the typesetter–I like to take a little bit to see how my garden grows.

Copyrighted material.