There must be an answer somewhere in Absolute Write, but I couldn't locate it. Nor did I find a clear response from Googling. Is there an accepted rule in publishing about whether hyphenated words and phrases are counted as one word or multiple words? I refer to words such as pre-teen, which is not two linked words, as well as cat-lover, which is two linked words.

The writing program I use counts each part of a hypehnated word as a separate word, while MS Word counts any hyphenated word or phrase as a single word.

In the manuscript I just completed, there is a 3000-word difference between what my writing program reports on the cover page and what MS Word counts when I export it to Word format. That's a huge difference.

I don't know which word count to report. I know that magazine publishers always count hyphenated as single words, so they can pay the freelance writer for one word instead of two. But how do book publishers view this issue?

I'm trying to find a definitive answer before I start querying my masterpiece.