“Well, why do they want to know this?” an inquiring mind might ask. “Who cares?”
The answer, say the two enterprising outfits, Scribd and Oyster, is “authors.” The writers of books, they believe, are dying to do exactly what’s been done before to make their work even more irresistible—and are willing to pay for the information that lets them do it.
So what do you as a writer want to know: How long should your book be? How many chapters should it have? How much description makes readers just skip through it? When does your plot become too complex? What makes whodunit readers jump to the end? The data miners are doing the homework; they’ve got the answers.
And by the way, what genre should you be writing in anyway? Do memoir readers really quit before romance fans? Find out. Why buck the odds?
I think this is great news for authors! Everyone who’s ever tried to write a book knows what a pain it is trying to figure out these things for yourself. Now you can just see what someone else did and check what results they got. It makes the path to best-sellerdom as clear and easy to follow as the yellow brick road.
Good riddance to the crazy idea of having your own concept and a vision before you type Chapter 1 at the top of the page. Let the info these good folks are piling up tell you what’s been done before, and then just pump out more of the same. This business of creativity has always been overrated in my book, and it’s about time someone figured out a better way.
“Self-published writers are going to eat this up,” says one independent publishing exec. “They want anything that might help them reach more readers.”
And as a novelist with eight published books on the market asked: “What writer would pass up the opportunity to peer into the reader’s mind?”
So for any author out there who might be dreaming about doing something different, forget it, give up—get with the program! The gurus of publishing have seen the future, and they’re writing your obit.