Specifically, I went to Betsy Mitchell, VP & Editor-in-Chief of Del Rey Books (an imprint of the Random House Publishing Group, for those of you who don't know). Del Rey is the second largest publisher of fantasy and science fiction in the United States as well as being an innovator in the fields of licensed media, pop culture, and manga.
I asked Betsy to answer two questions, which she kindly agreed to let me post here:
I have writers who've been asking me about how to estimate word counts. Most new authors go by their MS Word counter. Some writers are using the old pages x 250, based on 12-inch Courier text with 1" margins. Are new writers simply over-thinking this?And there you have it. Hope that helps! (Thanks, Betsy!)
Betsy: Yes, they’re over-thinking. Using the MS Word counter and putting “approximately xx,xxx words” is good enough on a submission.
Along the same lines, what's your absolute cut-off, word count-wise, when deciding to look at a manuscript?
Betsy: My eyebrows start climbing to the ceiling past 120,000 words and disappear off my forehead at 180,000 or so. A manuscript that long should either be cut drastically or split into two carefully crafted parts.