I ask readers this week to bear with me while I share some statistics from the site King James Bible Statistics. I promise this is going someplace:
- Total words in the Bible (KJV): 788,280
- Total words in the Old Testament (KJV): 609,269
- Total words in the New Testament (KJV): 179,011
- Total words in the four Gospels: 82,590
Why am I sharing these numbers? Simple. This week we received an “alternative interpretation” of the history surrounding a famous African leader. Total word count: approximately 551,000 words. That’s right – the manuscript was almost as long as the Old Testament. While there is a part of me that applauds someone for being able to write this many words on a single topic, another part of me is asking what was this author thinking?
I’ve commented before on the fact that there are reasons most publishers have word count guidelines. The first has to do with the cost associated with printing a book. A publisher is less likely to take a chance on a 150,000 word manuscript by a new author than an 80,000 word manuscript by the same author simply because of the cost associated with printing the book. But the other reason is that people have a finite attention span (which is dependent on age) and expect books to be a certain length depending on genre. This is one of the reasons Young Adult books can be as short as 50,000 words, while Science Fiction tends to be upwards of 100,000 words or more – it’s what readers of these genres have come to expect.
So before you submit your 150,000-175,000 word manuscript for review to a publisher, ask yourself a simple question: If the story of Jesus Christ could be told in 82,590 words, does your manuscript really need to be as long as the New Testament…