Monday, February 17, 2020

True or False: 3 x 2 = 6?

I've been through the archives and can't find anything to enlighten me about my query. (Though that might not be saying much as I haven't been able to find out on Google either)

My question is: For a non-fiction book proposal,(1) is it expected that the book's projected length is included in the book specs section? (2) If so, is there more than one way to express a book's length?

My problem is, that if an estimated word count is required, my query will boil down to: " ... a relaxed, but succinct, refresher on fractions for teenagers and adults who need to know how-to for a next step in their lives ... of 513972 words." Word counting software counts each number and symbol as a word. e.g. 3 x 2 = 6 is five words.

Is there another way I can describe the length? Should I just leave it out? Put size as a comp? Is there a standard for this kind of thing? It's definitely not a textbook. I do have a pretty good idea of the size of the book but no idea what I should say about it.

(1) yes. The proposed size of the book is included in a section called Book Specs and you're right, it usually means word count.

(2) yes. Not all books are about words. And yours is a classic example.

When you don't fit the mold, the trick is to go find books like yours, in this case ones that include math, numbers, or figures like graphs.
Here's one that I love love love: Two Trains Leave Paris

Then count up the PAGES of content.

The good news is that agents and editors are looking for a general idea, not a specific number.
Is it going to be 50 or 500 pages is the question we're asking, not is it 87 or 88 pages.


nightsmusic said...

Then count up the PAGES of content.

That was my thought. How many pages is it? In fiction, you might have a page with two lines on it that ends a chapter. While word count is the first thing looked at in that case, two lines or 25 will still count as a page. Whether you have 250 words on the page or 20, and the rest is filled with numbers, graphs or flotsam, it's still a page in your non-fiction book.

Sarah said...

How did I not know about Two Trains Leave Paris??? I'm a HS math teacher who writes fairy tales- the kind who brought a graphing calculator to an SCBWI conference, just in case.

Anyways, I just ordered a copy of Two Trains, and if anyone else is interested, it's on sale right now on Amazon.

Janet, I so love it when math shows up on the blog! And I'm always happy to see a book on fractions, OP! I hate that so many folks are scared of or ashamed about math. Anything that helps with that is a gift.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi Janet.

I would agree. Page count is what I though of when I read the post. LOL. I find you sense of humor about the UPS man very healthy and fun. We all have "those" moments. Mine was when my new neighbors decided to 'drop" in for a quick visit during the installation of my kitchen floor. I was unpacking boxes, un-showered, and wearing sweats. Not my best moment. I invited them in with a big smile and popped open a bottle of wine. It ended up to be a wonderful visit and as they were leaving, they insisted I join them for dinner. I accepted, but requested thirty minutes to pull myself together. Lol

Fearless Reider said...

OMG, where was Two Trains Leave Paris when I was in junior high? My life could have had a completely different trajectory. The only math class I liked in high school was geometry, when all of my math-loving friends tore out their hair while I wrote air-tight proofs. I just bought two copies -- one for myself, and one for my 6th-grade nephew. OP, the world needs your book!

Colin Smith said...

I have to say, when I read:

"I've been through the archives..."

I cry a little. Reminder: We have a Treasure Chest that contains a page called "Gems." This is a categorized selection of articles from Janet's archives. I created it to save y'all time hunting for articles on subjects that have already been addressed. Granted it's not the complete archive, but it does list some of the most useful articles that have appeared here over the last 10+ years. PLEASE check it out before you attack Janet's huge and extensive archive! And if there are any articles not on the list that should be, let me know (email address in my Blogger profile)!!

By the way, I'll be adding this one. :)

Leslie said...

I know MS Word can do word count (not just character count). But maybe Google Docs can help with that? I just read this and thought of OP:

Colin Smith said...

Leslie: I think OP's problem is that word counts traditionally look for spaces between characters to determine words. So: "One plus two" is three words. And so is "1 + 2." But "1+2" is only one word. If your book contains a lot of math, spaced for clarity, as in the case of Opie's book, you're going to run up a huge word count without actually writing a lot of words.

Theresa said...

I didn't have the benefit of Two Trains Leave Paris, either, and I failed to comprehend much after basic multiplication. And I think of my manuscripts in terms of pages, not words. I've had very understanding editors.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I am glad I don't have to estimate a word count.

So, I am in the query trenches. I just jumped in so Colin, you do not need to slap me. I think I'm going to be ill. I have to go breath into a bag far away from the kale fields of Carkoon.

April Mack said...

Colin, Janet's mentioned your list for writing contests but I didn't realize you had categorized the rest of her blog, too. Thanks for sharing.

Colin Smith said...

Elise: Wonderful! I'm so glad. I didn't really want to have to slap you. ;)

April Mack: The contest spreadsheet is just one of the many treasures in the Treasure Chest. Please check it out and let me know if you come across any gems that would make worthy additions. :)

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

E.M., I've also leaped into the query trenches! I salute you!

Leslie said...

Everyone who has bravely lept into the query trenches deserves a salute!

Countless people say that they "have a book in me" or will write a book one day, but those who've actually written and submitted one (or the nonfiction proposal) have accomplished something seriously impressive. We've done it and put it out there to be judged. That takes tremendous courage.

Michael Seese said...

Sorry to be late to the party. If you want a word count, do this.

Perform a global search & replace. Replace " x " (note the spaces) with "TIMES" Do the same with " = "

2 x 3 = 6 becomes 2TIMES3EQUALS6. One word.

Of course, after you've counted the words, do NOT save your changes.