Cracking the 'Bestseller Code'

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An algorithm might not be able to spit out a chart-topping song —at least not yet—but it might be able to help you write a bestselling novel. As an acquisitions editor for Penguin Books, Jodie Archer saw many novelists struggling to write books that would sell. Then she went to grad school at Stanford, where she and her advisor created an algorithm to help—with three decades worth of data about 20-thousand novels, their “Bestseller-ometer” can predict with 80% accuracy whether or not a new novel will be successful.