How to Calculate an Accurate Castoff: Book Pages, Signatures, and More (Part II)

Written by on December 20, 2012 in How To - Leave a Comment

Do you know how many pages your book will be?Last time, we talked about how to approximate the word count for your book. Armed with the word count, you can then estimate your book’s length… and only then can you get accurate estimate from your printer.

Whether you work for a publishing house or are going the indie route, the printing cost is going to drive the baseline price of your book, so making sure it’s right is essential.

So, let’s say we’ve got a book with 369,847 character (with no spaces). Take that and divide by 5.5 (the average number of characters in each word) to get a total approximate word count of 67,225 (I rounded up).

The NEXT thing you need is to figure out how many pages that translates to… and for that you need to know about how many words are on a book page (depending on the trim size). The industry standard for a 6×9 book is about 250 words per page. Quick calculation shows that our book with 67,225 words will about 269 6×9 book pages long.

But that’s before we take into account some important data:

  • Frontmatter – Title page, copyright page, table of contents, preface, prologue, and more
  • Backmatter – Epilogue, glossary, appendix, index, and more

Often times, when you’re calculating your castoff, you don’t have this information yet so make an educated guess – higher is always better than lower. As a general rule, for a fiction book, you can average around 10-15 pages total.

Because we’re being responsible, we’re going to round up, putting our book at 284 pages… and now is when we can finally talk about book signatures.

Photo creditFang Guo

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