How to Scientifically Predict a Novel’s Success

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It’s impossible to predict what will make a book sell well, but scientists at Stony Brook University think they might be on the right track.

After conducting statistical analyses of novels from several genres, they were able to predict with 84% accuracy whether a book was “highly successful” based on certain elements of style such as “discourse connectives” and “verbs that describe thought-processing.”

Of course, there’s a pretty large degree of subjectivity inherent in any study of this nature, but it’s still interesting stuff to think about. Read more details at ScienceDaily (there’s a typo in the first sentence—”pouring” instead of “poring”—but hey, they’re scientists, not writers).


Lauren O'Neal is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in publications like Slate, The New Inquiry, and The Hairpin. You can follow her on Twitter at @laureneoneal. More from this author →