The Illusion of Words Per Page

Current word count: 12,863.

Two Areas Of Improvement

I’ve had a difficult time keeping a consistent schedule over the past few weeks. Earlier, I set a goal of 2,000 words per week. But I’ve already missed this number several times.

There are two things keeping me from reaching that goal:

1. Current schedule and management of time
2. Additional research for book

My current schedule is overflowing. It is certainly manageable but I need to better manage it. Once I get a handle on the schedule, I’ll start getting done the things I need to do, including a more consistent word count. This is something I will put more effort into going forward.

I underestimated the amount of remaining research required for the book. I did create a good outline but I could have taken this further. Drilling down more into the outline would have revealed areas where more research was needed. I could have then invested time in this research and expanded the outline. Using this technique, I would have ended up with an outline that was basically a large percentage of the completed book.

With such a large outline, you can concentrate on writing. At this point, writing means flow. You are glueing all of the research together in an interesting and organized flow for your readers. Having to constantly write then stop and do research is extremely disruptive and also slows you down.

I believe the research ahead technique will work just as well for non fiction authors. The more research you can do ahead of time, the more productive and enjoyable your writing experience will be.

Estimating The Final Word Count

I originally started with a final word count of 20,000. My thinking on this number is that it equates to about 71 pages at 280 words per page (20,000/280 = ~71).

There is much debate on what a proper word count per page is. However, the further you dig into this topic, the more you realize that a proper count per page is an elusive figure. I’ve seen figures ranging from 250 to 350. But I often see people discuss 220 to 300. I’ve decided to round this to 280.

At 280 words per page, it doesn’t mean your book will actually be 71 pages. It will probably be more. This is because of formatting.

For example, there are a number of areas in Career Forward that contain lists. Lists take up space mostly on the left hand side of the page rather than the entire page width. This creates white space on the opposite side of the list, which means fewer words per page, thereby extending overall page count.

Formatting gets more complex with eBooks. Users are able to change their font, which changes word count per page. Readers come in different sizes, which also changes word count per page.

I’m now at 12,863 words and have used up nearly all of my material. There are two chapters I have not yet included – ‘Rethinking The MBA’ and ‘Interesting Facts About The MBA’. These chapters don’t hit at the core message of the book. But they are interesting and some will find value in reading them. I’ll discuss their inclusion with my editor.

Those two chapters probably only add another 1,000 to 2,000 words. This means maybe I reach the 15,000 word mark before sending the first draft to my editor. I haven’t read over the current draft but will this weekend. That is sure to produce lots of editing and new ideas, changing the overall word count.

In summary, I likely underestimated the word count by 5,000 to possibly 10,000 words. That is fine though. I’m more interested in providing content that is extremely relevant to readers than adding filler so I can hit some arbitrary number of words.

Questions For You

How do you determine your final word count? How important is it for you to reach this number?

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