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Fun With Word Counts

This blog post is 133 words.

The average article I write for my day job is around 600 words.

The estimated word count on the book I’m pitching to agents is 50,000 words.

All that to say some of the word counts in the following infographic from Electric Literature blow my mind.

Some examples:

  • War and Peace is 561,304 words.
  • Les Miserables is 530,982 words.
  • Infinite Jest is a well-earned 483,994 words.
  • Oh, you thought Ulysses was long? That’s cute. It’s only 265,222 words.

Also of note: The novels from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series average in the 300,000 to 400,000 range. Each novel! That’s stunning.

I’ll stop talking now and let you view the infographic for yourself. It has a lot of interesting information about novels with shorter word counts as well. Credit to Electric Literature. 

word counts of novels

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21 Comments Post a comment
  1. Interesting. A few queries: Is “I’m” one or two words? Is 530,982 counted as a word? If so, is it just one word, or it were written out (five hundred and thirty thousand, nine hundred and eighty-two) would it count as ten words or nine as eighty-two (in UK English, anyway) is hyphenated?

    Like

    February 25, 2015
    • I’m not sure how publishers do it, but I just go by Microsoft Word. I believe it counts contractions and numbers as one word, unless they are written out.

      Like

      February 25, 2015
  2. I love perspective!
    A peer reviewer told me the books in my series (averaging 165,000 words) was too long and I should slash it by 2/3… Claimed no one would read them.
    My view is the story comes first, word count shouldn’t even be a consideration.

    Like

    February 25, 2015
    • Be careful. Ultimately, if you want to get traditionally published, the publisher is going to have final say. If they have a word count range and you double it, they’re highly unlikely to publish your novel.

      Like

      February 26, 2015
  3. Reblogged this on blacklightmafia.

    Like

    February 25, 2015
  4. Reblogged this on mira prabhu and commented:
    It always boggles my writer’s mind to think of Leo Tolstoy producing (ink quill in hand) War and Peace (561,304 words). Wow! Now read this post by Robert for more on an interesting facet of the writer’s world…in the end, we have to make every word count!

    Like

    February 25, 2015
    • As is the case with many a successful man, there was a very hard-working woman behind him. Sophia Tolstoy had quill in hand, copied and recopied Leo’s manuscripts. Also put up with his rants and bore him 13 children. He was the genius, but would that genius have been so prolific without Sophia? More on the contribution of Sophia Tolstoy: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/18/books/review/Parini-t.html?_r=0

      Like

      February 27, 2015
  5. K. #

    I’ve got three words for y’all:
    “Quality, not quantity.”

    Liked by 1 person

    February 25, 2015
  6. I’ve just finished writing an assignment for university (English Literature) which was only 1,000 words, so a very short piece. I then also wrote an article for my blog which was around 1,000 words. The essay took around 3 days and the blog post took around 30 minutes! It’s amazing the amount of additional reading you need to do for such a short essay, and how quickly you can write such a long post in so short a time.
    Aly ♥

    Like

    February 25, 2015
  7. I sometimes wonder about the word counts of novel cycles, particularly of fantasy and science fiction series. I notice that Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover books consume about half again as much shelf space as Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books, but that’s a very approximate measure.

    Like

    February 25, 2015
  8. Publishers rule the day on this in trad. publishing at least. They don’t want a debut novel to go over the 100,000W mark these days.

    Like

    February 25, 2015
  9. Kindler #

    Reblogged this on Kindle-ing and commented:
    A fellow WordPress blogger, at 101books.net posted this, I find things like this entry very interesting indeed… I am a little bit strange that way.

    Like

    February 25, 2015
  10. Shared your words here today https://www.pinterest.com/AdamR0berts/blog-posts/ Thank you Robert

    Like

    February 26, 2015
  11. Reblogged this on Ms M's Bookshelf and commented:
    It’s been a while since I reblogged from 101 Books. This one is a lot of fun. Make sure you get down to the infographics — very interesting. (By the way, this introduction is 39 words long. Enjoy my Sunday reblog!)

    Like

    February 28, 2015
  12. Reblogged this on Amber Lisa's Literary Boutique and Spa! and commented:
    This is well informative!

    Like

    March 1, 2015
  13. loveysliterature123 #

    Reblogged this on loveysliterature123's Blog.

    Like

    March 2, 2015
  14. Reblogged this on Evil Toad Press.

    Like

    March 5, 2015

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