Finding Trends in NY Times Best Sellers

He now holds the Guinness World Record for having the most books on the NY Times Best Seller List.John Grisham published his first novel in 1989, but it was his second novel published in 1991 that introduced him to the Best Seller List.These top 20 authors account for 29% of the Best Seller List appearances, whereas 610 authors account for the other 71% during the 8 year span analyzed..The average weeks an author appeared on the list was 13, and the median was 5..Most authors were only on the list for 1 week.What books are most popular?On the other hand, these are the books that show up on the list most often..“The Help” is Kathryn Stockett’s first and only published novel and “All the Light We Cannot See” is Anthony Doerr’s second published novel..Both can be classified as general fiction, with a historical theme.The average weeks a book stayed on the list was 5, the median was 3..As with the authors, most books only live on the list for 1 week.Trends in Book TitlesLet’s say you’ve written your novel, have a book deal with a publisher and are now stressing over cover art and a title..Do certain book titles perform better than others?Starting WordThe majority of books on the list don’t start with “A/An” or “The”, but depending on the genre you are writing in, “The” is often the first word in the title (see Action/Adventure or Religious Fiction).Does the starting word really make a difference?.Some publishers stress making the title “Google-able”..Is it easy for people to find your book?Using “A” or “The” could cause some confusion on where the book is placed alphabetically in a library or brick-and-mortar store, or may damp people’s visceral reaction to the title..(Author’s assumptions.)Using “of”Another grouping to look at are books that use the preposition “of” and how many of those book titles have a following “the”..As shown below, most books on the list don’t use the preposition, and when they do, “the” doesn’t frequently follow.ConclusionIf a book makes the best seller list, it is most likely a Suspense/Thriller or General Fiction novel written by a single author..The title probably won’t start with “A” or “The” and won’t contain “of”.Even if your book hits the list, it will likely only stay there for 3 to 5 weeks, and most authors in this eight-year time span only hit the list for 5 weeks total, though the average number of weeks on the list per author was skewed upward by big names who seem to live constantly at the top.Unfortunately, the data used for this analysis doesn’t include how well a book is written, how it was marketed, or many other factors which are undoubtedly very important in getting book sales.. More details

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