Beyond ‘The Bestseller Code’

A new A.I. for aspiring & published authors

When Jodie Archer, PhD, and Matthew Jockers, PhD, released The Bestseller Code (St. Martin’s Press, 2016), the author community and publishing world were abuzz with speculation about what this breakthrough use of artificial intelligence augured for the future of books. 

Press coverage

Here is some of the media coverage from that time:

The New Yorker:

A best-seller code, packaged and licensed to wannabe authors and ambitious/avaricious/or some such publishing houses, could be very useful. I, for one, would rather pay a program to analyze my plotting rhythm than sit through the average creative-writing workshop.

Bestseller Code
The book that started it all.

Wired:

How could you know which books would be blockbusters and which would flop, and why? Over four years, Archer and Jockers fed 5,000 fiction titles published over the last 30 years into computers and trained them to “read”—to determine where sentences begin and end, to identify parts of speech, to map out plots. They then used so-called machine classification algorithms to isolate the features most common in bestsellers. … In all, the “bestseller-ometer” has identified 2,799 features strongly associated with bestsellers.

The Wall Street Journal:

A laboratory is a more compelling setting than a church. Life in the classroom trumps partying on campus and readers largely prefer novels with dogs in them, rather than cats.

These are just some of the patterns the authors of a new book, “The Bestseller Code,” out Sept. 20, have detected through an algorithm they designed to identify the DNA of bestselling novels.

Literary Review:

This ought to be annoying, but I have to admit that the results of computer surveys into what makes a bestseller are actually of compelling interest and full of the sorts of facts and stats that some of us really enjoy.

A new algorithm for a new marketplace

Co-author Jockers teamed up with two full-time authors — bestselling romance author Alessandra Torre and entrepreneur/thriller author J.D. Lasica — to launch Authors A.I., a new tech startup that debuted June 8, 2020.

Jockers has revamped the original algorithm to focus on finding success markers across a variety of popular fiction rankings, versus the original focus on The New York Times bestseller list.

The new A.I., dubbed Marlowe, was also informed by many of the 125 bestselling fiction authors who make up the bulk of the startup’s team. The reaction from authors who’ve been given early access has been overwhemingly positive.

For interview requests, contact media relations chief David Libby at [email protected].

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