The success of literature is a multifaceted and multidimensional metric that encompasses qualitative and quantitative aspects. There are different dimensions to evaluate literary success, including literary, commercial, reader-oriented, and cultural success. The measurement of literary success should always be aligned with the purpose for which the metric will ultimately be used.
How can literary success be measured?
The literary success of a work refers to its quality, linguistic sophistication, and artistic composition. Professional literary reviews, awards received, and scholarly discourse play a role in assessing literary quality and the influence of a work on the literary scene.
The commercial success of a book can be measured by sales figures, royalties, rankings on bestseller lists, number of copies sold, achievable price, level of recognition (including on social media), and film adaptations. These financial and commercial indicators demonstrate the success of a book in the market and its profitability for authors and publishers.
The reader's success of a book can be estimated through the frequency and quality of ratings, as well as reader reviews. The opinions and reactions of readers provide insights into how a book is perceived by the readership and the impression it leaves, which is a significant aspect of literary success.
The cultural success of a book is reflected in its inclusion in school and university curricula, participation in scholarly reading lists, and discussions in public media such as newspapers and magazines. The adaptation of a book into other business areas, such as merchandise, theater, or film adaptations, also provides indications of cultural success.
It is important to note that the success of literature is a multidimensional measure that can vary depending on the purpose. For retrospective considerations, sales figures, for example, can serve as a valid metric. For future-oriented evaluations, it is beneficial to include a combination of commercial and reader-oriented cultural aspects in the metrics. This is how Lit-X creates its Success Score, which is used in products like Success Analytics and Success Prediction. It is strongly reader-oriented and composed of the number and value of ratings, as well as reviews. It approximates sales figures and incorporates a commercial aspect. At the same time, it allows for the identification of success before commercial success has fully materialized.
The success of literature cannot be determined solely based on a single metric. It requires a comprehensive evaluation that takes into account the various dimensions of success. This assessment must be tailored and consciously designed, particularly considering the intended use case.
"Measuring the Success of Literature: From Bestsellers to Classics" by Sarah Skwire
"What Makes a Book Successful? The Many Metrics of Literary Quality" by Alison Flood
"Measuring the Success of Literary Translations" by Edith Grossman
"Can You Measure the Success of a Book?" by Ben Ryder Howe
"Success and the Literary Machine" by D. T. Max