Word count, with a little help from Amazon

January 18, 2010

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Did you know Amazon.com has a new function that gives a word count for each book?

(I did not discover this myself. Props to Suzanne for pointing it out.)

This is awesome enough for me to get excited over. Why? Because it allows me to check out length for published books in my genre. To be picked up by a traditional publisher, my manuscript needs to fall in a similar word-count window.

How to find a book’s word count: Go to that book’s page and scroll down to “Inside This Book.” Under that heading, click “Text Stats.” (It’ll be a blue link.) A new window will pop up. Under “Number of,” you’ll see “words.” That’s your number!

I did a little reconnaissance for a few books in the Competitive Books section of my proposal. Here’s what I found:

  • Eat, Pray, Love: 130,000 words (Could this be right? If it is, it just goes to show that books with more than 100,000 words — which most agents say is too many — can do fabulously well. If it’s not accurate, well, then this Amazon function isn’t as cool as I think it is.) 352 pages.
  • Somebody’s Heart is Burning: 85,000 words. 336 pages. (This author actually told me her book came in at 85,000 words, which makes me think the feature is accurate.)
  • First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria: No word-count statistic. (I’m leaving this in the list to show that word count isn’t offered for every book.) 320 pages. Update: Author Eve tells me her book came in at 95,000 words.

* For full titles, authors and descriptions of these books, see What’s on my travel memoir bookshelf?

What did I learn from this? That my word-count goal of 85,000 – 90,000 is right on target.

What other Amazon tricks do you use?

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