I can’t speak for every novelist, but I have to say, as a person who has recently finished another draft of another first chapter, that I am willing to put my efforts at trying to find just the right word on a par with even the pickiest of picture book writers. Effort and effect are two different things naturally. I probably still don’t have everything where it needs to be, but I’m ready to move on.
*And yes, I personally know writers at each end of the scale. In fact, Shutta Crum’s delightful MINE! uses the same word seven times. I’m actually not sure exactly how many words finally wound up in Jeanie Franz Ransom’s Land of Enchantment Book Award Winner WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO HUMPTY? Maybe it wasn’t quite three thousand words, but it was ridiculously close to that in a time where most editors are looking for projects that are much, much short. The editors kept asking for more jokes and Jeanie kept delivering them.