How to accurately figure your manuscript's word count.
1. Set all your margins to 1"
2. Set your line spacing to double space.
3. Set your tab indent to 0.25"
4. Change your font to Courier (not New Courier, but Courier). The reason you do this is because Courier has stabilized spacing. Stabilized spacing will give you a more accurate word count for white space purposes.
5. By changing your formatting to the above specs, your manuscript is now considered to have an average of 250 words per page. Some pages will have less than 250 words, and some pages will have more, but this is the industry standard.
6. Take the number of pages you have in your reformatted manuscript and multiply that number by 250, and you'll have a more accurate word count for your manuscript.
Example: 360 pages X 250 words = 90,000 Words
How to lower your word count
Please don't tell yourself that you'll let an editor decide what can or can't stay in your manuscript because you won't have any control over what is deleted from your story. An editor may cut out a scene that you feel is important to the story, but the editor doesn't feel that way. Letting someone else do your trimming will only make you unhappy. Instead, follow the below steps to help lower your word count. This doesn't mean an editor won't edit out scenes, but at least it will give you a better chance to make sure you keep what you want.
Two ways to cut your word count are:
1. In most cases you'll have to edit your manuscript. Look for scenes that can be simplified or done away with completely. Maybe you have a scene where your protagonist takes a dog out for a walk, and that walk consists of three paragraphs or more. Unless something crucial to the plot happens in that scene, you can delete it and say: After I took the dog for a walk, I jumped in the car and headed for the police station. You'll have condensed those three or more paragraphs into half a sentence. You've reassured the reader that you haven't forgotten the dog, and at the same time you'll painlessly lower your word count.
2. Do you write short chapters? If so, see how many chapters you can combine by using a scene break. If you have six chapters that leave half a page or more of space at the end of the chapter, you've lost two to three pages or more when it comes to word count. A good average size for a chapter is 15-20 double-spaced pages. This will generally condense down to about 8-10 page chapters in a printed book, which is a reasonably sized chapter for a reader. Please don't go through your manuscript and rework a chapter to move a line or two up to the last page because freeing up a few pages won't necessarily change your word count because every printer formats pages differently. Your printer may say you have 10 pages, and our printer will say you have 11 pages because it formats differently.