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Word count for picture book with layered text

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I am writing a picture book with layered text. There is the main text—one or two sentences per page and secondary text, in smaller font,  with more information. There will also be back matter for additional information.

How do I do word count? Just primary or primary and secondary? I’ve heard that you don’t include back matter in the word count. Is that correct?
#1 - January 28, 2021, 01:37 PM

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Correct. Do not include back matter in the word count.

I have a manuscript where I have the main text, then sidebars on the spread, and back matter. I only count the main text in my word count. Do you consider the layered text crucial to the story, not sidebars? I'm now sure what I would do in that situation. Maybe you could break down the word count to Main text: xxx words. Secondary text: xxx words.
#2 - January 28, 2021, 04:39 PM
Freaky Funky Fish ( Running Press Kids, May 2021)
Tell Someone (Albert Whitman, October 2021)
Peculiar Primates (Running Press Kids, Fall 2022)

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Is this fiction or nonfiction? Can the story be understood without this secondary text? If it's necessary to understanding the story, it's part of the word count. If not, I'd debate this. One thing to try is to use Amazon to look up the concordance of any similar books. You can count the words in the main text by hand and then see if the concordance number agrees or includes more.

What is the role of the secondary text? I'm now quite curious.
#3 - January 28, 2021, 05:58 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

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Hi Debbie and dkshumaker:
I’m using layered text, primary and secondary, because the primary is like a little non-rhyming text. If I were to add the more detailed information it would be disjointed. The books Laura Purdie Salas suggested were No Money No Chocolate (Melissa Stewart), Just Ducks (Nicola Davies), A Butterfly is Patient (Dianna Hutts Aston), and What do you do with a tail like this? (Steve Jenkins).

After looking at the books again, I think the word count includes secondary as well.

Thanks both of you for taking time to respond .
#4 - January 29, 2021, 03:46 PM

He is Risen! Alleluia!!!
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Nancy, I have a ms like this as well, with main text that's poetic, sidebars for some of the pages, and back matter. In my cover letter I make sure to mention that it's a 150-word ms with additional x words for sidebars and backmatter. I love layered books like these because you can share them with a wide range of kids.
#5 - January 29, 2021, 04:51 PM
Little Thief! Max & Midnight, Bound, Ten Easter Eggs & 100+ bks/mags
https://vijayabodach.blogspot.com https://bodachbooks.blogspot.com

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I write books like this and, yes, the primary and secondary text layers are included in the word count (but not the back matter). If it's non-fiction or information fiction, I've hard that it is generally accepted that you can go over a 500 word count...up to about 1000 words. That's what I submit, and I've never had a complaint about word count.
Best of luck.
#6 - January 30, 2021, 07:38 PM
Odd Bods: The World's Unusual Animals - Millbrook Press 2021
Tiny Possum and the Migrating Moths - CSIRO Pub. Oct. 2021

www.juliemurphybooks.com

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Hi Vijaya and Julie: Thanks for your responses. I agree that including  detailed sidebars (secondary text) allow the main text to maintain its rhythm while the sidebars offer richer details. Will break out the word count into main text and sidebars.
#7 - February 01, 2021, 01:56 PM

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