Readability levels and their impact on bestselling and award-winning fiction

Bryant, Chantelle Kristen (2019) Readability levels and their impact on bestselling and award-winning fiction. Coursework Masters thesis, University of Southern Queensland. (Unpublished)

C.Bryant Masters Thesis (Final).pdf

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Novels that make the bestseller list are often thought to have earned the position through good reading quality. It may come as a surprise for some that for a majority of bestselling novels, this is not the case. Generally, bestselling novels have a lower reading level, usually between the 7th and 8th grade. Why do some novels become adult bestsellers if they, judging by their reading level, are written for children? There is a limited amount of research available on readability in bestsellers, leaving the question of ‘what makes a bestseller?’ shrouded in mystery. In this dissertation I shine some light on one aspect of why some novels sell and others do not. This has been done by comparing the readability scores of three bestselling novels and three award-winning novels against their prospects of saleability, in the hope of determining if there is any correlation. Each novel’s reception by the public has been determined in part by analysing: Goodreads ratings, online reader reviews and interactions with the novel via social media. By comparing the public’s reception of each novel with each book’s reading level, correlations were drawn between a novel’s language level and its saleability. It was found that reading levels are not necessarily higher in award-winning literary fiction than in genre fiction, and while a correlation can be found between reading levels and online reader reviews, after taking the contextual issues of each novel into account, it was concluded that reading level has little to no effect on the percentage of ratings received on Goodreads nor the amount of interaction readers have with a novel’s marketing or promotional material. While reading levels provide insights into a book’s possible commercial success they are not able to provide a definite answer, prompting the need for more quantifiable research to be carried out in this subject area.

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Item Type: Thesis (Non-Research) (Coursework Masters)
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Creative Arts (1 Mar 2019 -)
Supervisors: Baker, Dallas
Qualification: Master of Arts (Editing and Publishing)
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2020 06:28
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2023 04:29
Fields of Research (2008): 19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 1999 Other Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 199999 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing not elsewhere classified
Fields of Research (2020): 36 CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 3699 Other creative arts and writing > 369999 Other creative arts and writing not elsewhere classified

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