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The Bestseller Code: Anatomy of the Blockbuster Novel Hardcover – September 20, 2016
100 (Fiction) Books to Read in a Lifetime
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“Non-formulaic, eye-opening, deeply-researched ― and really worth your time.”― GQ
"Reveals the diverse directions in which popular fiction may be taken. . . the bestseller-ometer may find its most noble application as a democratizing force” ― The Atlantic
“[T]his is a delightful book to read. I would recommend it as both an entertaining and educational read for anybody interested in the business of books” ―Digital Book World Daily
"This interesting little tome shares some of the Bookputer’s insights with us, just in case we want to become author-millionaires too. And who doesn’t? . . . Fascinating” ― The Times Review
“Aspiring novelists who thumb through this volume will find plenty to think about. . . [T]his book actually represents an opportunity for literary scholars” ― Public Books
“Archer is not some Silicon Valley whizz-kid looking to reduce the novel to 0s and 1s, nor is she a pretentious academic coming over the hills to sling around jargon about middlebrow novels. . . [She] is smart, savvy and full of ideas.” ―The Times of London
“A laboratory is a more compelling setting than a church.” ― The Wall Street Journal, which named The Bestseller Code one of the most-anticipated books of Fall 2016
“[The] claims are eye-grabbing. . . [and] also highly plausible.” ―The Spectator
Archer and Jockers “are ‘literature-friendly’ and want good books to succeed.”― Wired
"When a story captures the imagination of millions, that's magic. Can you qualify magic? Archer and Jockers just may have done so." - Sylvia Day, New York Times bestselling author
“The Bestseller Code excited me, scared me, and generally blew my mind. Archer and Jockers have built a reading robot that can teach readers, writers, and publishers a great deal about how popular fiction works. This is a pioneering work in a new science of storytelling.” ― Jonathan Gottschall, author of The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human.
"Archer and Jockers take an astonishing insight into the DNA of bestsellers and turn it into a gripping page-turner about how we read. Truly remarkable!"―Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, co-author of Big Data and professor at Oxford
“May revolutionize the publishing industry.” ―The Guardian
"The Bestseller Code is an intriguing read and its analysis of what makes a plot tick and how readers are grabbed is compelling."―Literary Review
About the Author
JODIE ARCHER bought and edited books for Penguin UK before decamping for the doctoral program in English at Stanford University. After earning her Ph.D., she worked at Apple as their research lead on literature and has since consulted with many writers and businesses about literary success. She is now a full-time writer.
MATTHEW L. JOCKERS is the Susan J. Rosowski Associate Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he teaches and directs the Nebraska Literary Lab. His text-mining research has been profiled in the New York Times, The LA Review of Books, The Sunday Times of London, and more.
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Top Customer Reviews
In laying out the elements of a bestseller, one of the phenomena this book dissects, and dives into, is something that's been begging an explanation for a little while. The question is mystifying, as it is culturally relevant, socially significant, and just plain flummoxing to a person like me who is not in the know. It is this: why has Fifty Shades of Grey book series made such a colossal wave and became a part of the lexicon among readers around the world? Why is the dang thing so popular?
Virtually everyone who has read the books, even those who are in the 'like' camp, admit that they fall short on many accepted guidelines: style, prose, characters, plot, etc. They even defy the general rule (as compiled and presented by the authors here) among bestsellers: books with explicit sex do not get on the NYT list.
And yet, when they put E.L. James' popular book through their machine reading program, it scored a high mark that put it comfortably in the bestseller category. Just as a point of reference, their computer reader picked two authors (from their pool of 5,000 books analyzed for their research) as the most emblematic bestselling authors: Danielle Steel and John Grisham. Not a huge surprise there. To its credit, the computer definitely seems to have picked correctly. These are two of the most hugely popular, cash-making authors working today. So how does that explain this Grey fellow?
It turns out, Fifty Shades does ultimately manage the golden balance of what makes it a bestseller. Very broadly, these elements are: fewer topics covered (more focused), and human closeness (emotional relevance to readers -- relatability). There are other elements, but these are the key ones from what I gathered.
This is a short, educational, and fun book to read that really hit it on the money for me. I have often been confounded by looking at the bestsellers lists: why that book? Oh my god, I cannot believe people are actually buying this book? And how many has that book sold? So I've been interested in finding out what the general, mainstream readers are looking for in these books.
Lastly, another thing I found interesting is the title of the book that scored the perfect 100% by the computer program. *The* book that balances all aspects of the bestseller attributes just right to achieve this feat. I have yet to read the book, but I'm curious now to read it to see how captivating it will be.
After reading this book I feel relatively satisfied with their explanations. And just the fact these authors spared me from reading 'Fifty Shades of Grey' to try to make myself understand its phenomenon, makes reading this book worth it.
I will admit I love data and how concrete it is. As a creative who straddles the line between that and the analytical, this truly scratched my itch. I'm currently working on a book that will be finished in mere days. After reading this book (in one setting of an afternoon), I took my notes and takeaways and revisited what I'd written.
Mistakes that I'd never have seen blared at me. Not the normal mistakes of grammar or developmental issues--no mistakes that would have sent my book into the abyss of Meh. With a few tweaks here and there, my manuscript now gets me excited. I was able to change my perception of my writing to provide the entertainment ride it should be.
I will not attempt to tell you what I did, because I believe this books should be experienced in the customization of your own needs as a writer. I will say that I found the graphs they provided on pacing, the tips on theme and their examination of "The Girl" books and how 50 Shades and Da Vinci Code could be twins to be very illuminating.
This book may not be for you if you do not enjoy the value of data, have the ability to grasp the data and then conceptualize it into how it pertains to you or believe that a computer can read a book and then tell you how to make yours better. But, if you are adventurous enough to challenge your view of how to approach your next book, this one might be for you.
I love learning new things about writing and myself. This book allowed me to do that.