Friday, July 11, 2008

Lo! I had been feeling inadequate!

In working up my many varied manuscript proposals, the word count had always made me cringe: just under 83,000 (actually closer to 82,000, but I rounded up because that just sounded lame). Longer books aren't necessarily better books, but I try to deal with a lot of things in mine--think two whole major genres of medieval lit encompassed in six close reading/analytic chapters and a couple of synthesis chapters, and that's pretty much what I'm working with--and 83,000 (or, fine, 82,300) seemed awfully...thin.

Then yesterday, as I was updating my word count post-revision, I discovered that Word's word-counter doesn't include footnotes. I mean, obviously it doesn't, but for some reason that never occurred to me.

Word count with footnotes? 95,600.

I assume/imagine that bibliographic footnotes don't (or shouldn't) count towards the total, but there is no living way that I'm going to go through 320 pages and figure out the word count total for bibliographic footnotes and subtract that from the total--nope, not happening. I have a number of substantive footnotes, though. Lots and lots of them, actually, as one of my primary Revision Strategies involved popping all the other scholarship on my texts into footnotes (you know, the paragraphs that go, "I think X. Scholar A also thinks X. In the words of Scholar B, 'X is correct.' Scholar C thinks that X could be nuanced in Y way, but ultimately X is the way to go"). So I've decided to split the difference and then round up slightly in my favor (hey, I might add a couple more paragraphs before the manuscript is complete) and to decree that my manuscript is now complete at 90,000 words, including substantive footnotes.

Huzzah! A properly book-length book has magically appeared on my hard drive!

4 comments:

squadratomagico said...

Actually, I think most presses count footnotes and bibliography towards the word count. When I published my book, *every*single*word* in the document files was counted.

Dr. Virago said...

Oh that's definitely a book! Indeed, as I commented on a similar post over at Notorious Ph.D.'s place, some publishers limit you to 90,000 words -- and that *includes* ALL footnotes (but not bibliography, as I recall).

So yay!

Sisyphus said...

Ooh, I wish that would happen with _my_ hard drive!

medieval woman said...

Yup, I agree! They count every single word, including footnotes and the biblio - and I've heard that the good range is between 80k and 100k words, so go you!

Have you sent out your proposal? Have you heard back?? Email me!

Congrats!!!