A recent article by Dan Kopf about sought-after books caught my eye. Being popular is an issue I ponder frequently as I pen my first novel. (I have nearly fifty non-fiction publications to my credit.) Like most individuals, I am energized to both entertain and inspire but also want to profitably sell books, audio tapes and movie rights. Obviously there are lots of ways to accomplish the goal of making money. One route is to independently develop a large fan base and generate word of mouth magic. Another path is to have a big name publisher put its marketing muscle behind you and your creation. Alas, the second possibility seldom occurs unless you already have a significant platform, including social media presence.
Given the ubiquitous nature of Twitter and other web tools, this Priceonomics staff writer took a hard look at Goodreads ratings data to discover how preferences vary between the literati and all others. Some of his findings are listed below. Click here to read the full article entitled “What is the Internet’s Favorite Book?”
- Several Calvin and Hobbes cartoon books by Bill Watterson are ranked in the top ten of “The Best Books of All Time,” with one offering at the top of the list and four others receiving the best five star grade from more than 27,000 readers. (I love these iconic characters.) The English Standard Version Study Bible comes in second, followed by the Harry Potter Box Set at number six.
- An analysis of the top twenty authors overwhelmingly hints at a love for comics, religion and young adult books.
- A separate list of highest rated authors by genre reveals that some individuals are still held in high regard even if they are not alive to personally market their books.
- Writers with a longstanding place in history do not appear on the list of highest rated fiction authors. However, some of their works such as Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Hamlet by William Shakespeare are given a thumbs up in a list of great books.
Mr. Kopf concludes that high-rated books are not necessarily the ones that garner industry prizes such as the Pulitzer. “They are crowd-pleasers … with devoted followings.” My takeaway from his research is that an author needs to seriously assess what goals she wants to accomplish and then resolve to satisfy them. At the same time, an author needs to embrace two realities: (1) Publishing is a business with a bottom line orientation. (2) Gold stars may be awarded differently by lay readers versus industry executives.