According to British statistician Atai Winkler, the likelihood of a novel's success can be predicted with about 70% accuracy by a simple analysis of its title, reports the Vancouver Sun. You can try out a computer program that implements his algorithm. I tried it on a few titles, a number of which, to be fair, are not the titles of novels.
|The Da Vinci Code||10.2%|
|Guns, Germs, and Steel||10.2%|
|Lincoln's Doctor's Dog||14.6%|
|Debbie Does Dallas||14.6%|
|War and Peace||31.7%|
|The Tale of Genji||41.4%|
|The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language||41.4%|
|The Sound Pattern of English||41.4%|
|The Way of Analysis||41.4%|
|Gone with the Wind||44.2%|
Geoff Pullum will no doubt be delighted to see that his grammar's chances are markedly better than those of The Da Vinci Code, but disappointed that it isn't quite up there with Gone with the Wind. On the other hand, I am disappointed that Guns, Germs and Steel doesn't score higher. I like the title and the book. None of my examples get close to Winkler's best scorer: Agatha Christie's Sleeping Murder at 83%.
The article doesn't explain what factors contribute to success, but one could figure them out by experimenting with the web interface.