They found that successful books made great use of conjunctions to join sentences ("and" or "but") and prepositions than less successful books. They also found a high percentage of nouns and adjectives in the successful books; less successful books relied on more verbs and adverbs to describe what was happening.More successful books relied on verbs describing thought processes rather than actions and emotions. The results varied by genre, but books that are less successful, the researchers reported, used words like "wanted," "took" or "promised." Successful authors employed "recognized" or "remembered.""It has to do with showing versus caring," Choi said. "In order to really resonate with readers, instead of saying 'she was really really sad,' it might be better to describe her physical state, to give a literal description. You are speaking more like a journalist would."Communications researchers believe journalists use more nouns, pronouns, and prepositions than other writers because those word forms give more information, Choi explained."Novelists who write more like journalists have literary success," she said.This should come as no surprise since many great novelists--Dickens and Hemingway to name two--began their careers as journalists.Choi emphasized that she was describing a correlation, not causation, but the results could be predictive.
In this study, we do not attempt to separate out success based on literary quality (award winners) from success based on popularity (commercial hit, often in spite of bad literary quality), mainly because it is not practically easy to determine whether the high download counts are due to only one reason or the other. We expect that in many cases, the two different aspects of success are likely to coincide, however.
Also, more successful books use discourse connectives and prepositions more frequently, while less successful books rely more on topical words that could be almost cliche, e.g., “love”, typical locations, and involve more extreme (e.g., “breathless”) and negative words (e.g., “risk”).
It can be seen that prepositions, nouns, pronouns, determiners and adjectives are predictive of highly successful books whereas less successful books are characterized byhigher percentage of verbs, adverbs, and foreign words.