“Only a person with a Best Seller mind can write Best Sellers,” according to Aldous Huxley. No doubt he was being contemptuous, but he wasn’t wrong: despite the diversity of genre on the bestseller list, there really are a series of habits shared by top-selling authors. Indeed, according to Archer and Jockers, bestsellers “have so many latent things in common that they are practically a specialized genre in themselves.” Run through the algorithm, books as superficially dissimilar as The Da Vinci Code and Fifty Shades of Grey are shown to be manipulating readers in lock-step formation.

How to Write a Bestseller

What Big Data reveals about the way we read—and what we’ll buy