What If? Another Look at the Top 100 Poll

calculator Since we posted the results of the 2013 Top 100 Poll readers have had many suggestions for alternative ways the results might be tabulated. We decided it might be fun to look at some of these alternatives. We discovered that with each of these different methods, the original results – calculated in the usual way of fully weighting however many titles a reader lists – are pretty robust.

We looked at some alternative methods of calculating the results based on reader comments: (1) only assigning a weight to the first 50 titles on a ballot, with anything between 51-100 assigned a weight of one; (2) only counting and assigning a weight to the first 50 titles on a ballot; and (3) only counting and assigning a weight to the first 25 titles on a ballot.

For simplicity (and to avoid spending weeks on this task) we’ve only listed the top 10 titles that emerge under each method, but the remainder of each list is remarkably similar. Basically all that changes in the top ten is a switch between Outlander and The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie under two of the alternatives. Other than that, the top ten remain as in the original method (in parentheses after the title).

Alternative 1: Only top 50 titles are given a weight with the next 50 given equal weight (1pt)

1. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase (1)

2. Devil in Winter by Lisa Keypas (2)

3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (3)

4. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (5)

5. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley (4)

6. Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale (6)

7. Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh (7)

8. Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas (8)

9. The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn (9)

10. Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn (10)

Alternative #2: Only count 50 titles but assign weight

1. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase (1)

2. Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas (2)

3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (3)

4. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (5)

5. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley (4)

6. Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale (6)

7. Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh (7)

8. Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas (8)

9. The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn (9)

10. Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn (10)

Alternative #3: Only allow 25 titles but assign weight

1. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase (1)

2. Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas (2)

3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (3)

4. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley (4)

5. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (5)

6. Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale (6)

7. Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh (7)

8. Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas (8)

9. The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn (9)

10. Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn (10)

Finally, instead of looking at the top 100 titles we decided to look at the authors of those titles. Admittedly the results are not the same as if we asked readers to vote for their top 10 (or top 20 or top 30) romance authors, but it does give a sense of not only the authors with the most popular titles, but also authors with such an extensive backlist that any one title may not break into the top 100 or even the top 200.

We aggregated all of the points received for each romance title to the author level which leads to a combined weighting for authors. A total of 1,413 authors were listed on at least one ballot for one of their romances, and many were listed on multiple ballots for multiple titles. For example, readers voted for 96 different titles by Nora Roberts (not including her J.D. Robb titles), 76 titles by Mary Balogh, 44 by Linda Howard, 43 by Jayne Ann Krentz (not including her Amanda Quick or Jayne Castle titles), and 38 by Georgette Heyer.

The top 100 authors receiving the most points in this way are listed below.

1. Lisa Kleypas

2. Mary Balogh

3. Julia Quinn

4. Susan Elizabeth Phillips

5. Linda Howard

6. Nora Roberts

7. Loretta Chase

8. Georgette Heyer

9. Julie Garwood

10. Judith McNaught

11. Elizabeth Hoyt

12. Sherry Thomas

13. Laura Kinsale

14. Jane Austen

15. Julie Ann Long

16. Jennifer Crusie

17. Joanna Bourne

18. Mary Jo Putney

19. Eloisa James

20. Diana Gabaldon

21. Nalini Singh

22. Carla Kelly

23. Courtney Milan

24. Suzanne Brockmann

25. Jennifer Ashley

26. Tessa Dare

27. Lavryle Spencer

28. Stephanie Laurens

29. Meredith Duran

30. Amanda Quick

31. J.R. Ward

32. Madeline Hunter

33. Rachel Gibson

34. Connie Brockway

35. J.D. Robb

36. Kristan Higgins

37. Kresley Cole

38. Julie James

39. Liz Carlyle

40. Anne Stuart

41. Jude Deveraux

42. Judith Ivory

43. Jo Beverley

44. Jill Shalvis

45. Laura Lee Guhrke

46. Jayne Ann Krentz

47. Kristen Ashley

48. Johanna Lindsey

49. Grace Burrowes

50. Karen Marie Moning

51. Sabrina Jeffries

52. Sarah MacLean

53. Kathleen Woodiwiss

54. Lorraine Heath

55. Sherrilyn Kenyon

56. Suzanne Enoch

57. Sandra Brown

58. Patricia Gaffney

59. Pamela Clare

60. Teresa Medeiros

61. Meljean Brook

62. Karen Robards

63. Cecilia Grant

64. Jo Goodman

65. Robyn Carr

66. Charlotte Bronte

67. Galen Foley

68. Ellen O’Connell

69. Ilona Andrews

70. Elizabeth Lowell

71. Maya Banks

72. Anne Gracie

73. Susanna Kearsley

74. Sarah Mayberry

75. Thea Harrison

76. Catherine Anderson

77. Pamela Morsi

78. Jeaniene Frost

79. Penelope Williamson

80. Maggie Osborne

81. Lorelei James

82. Celeste Bradley

83. Brenda Jackson

84. Lauren Willig

85. Christine Feehan

86. Marsha Canham

87. Deborah Smith

88. Kate Noble

89. Lora Leigh

90. Jane Porter

91. Elizabeth Boyle

92. Susan Anderson

93. Ruthie Knox

94. Lori Foster

95. Karen Ranney

96. Shannon McKenna

97. Susan Wiggs

98. Sylvia Day

99. Barbara Metzger

100. Eva Ibbotson

We hope this gives you some additional information about the recent Top 100 poll. Look for The Best of the Rest (titles in places 101-200) on Friday, November 22.

Cindy, LeeB, and LinnieGayl

27 Responses to “What If? Another Look at the Top 100 Poll”

  1. Victoria'S says:

    I don’t know how you manage, but am grateful that you do. I think the Top 100 is such a fun thing (for me at least) to do. I like seeing titles others think are just as good as I think my favorites are…even, or especially when I don’t agree. The task alone seems monumental, to me, along with the other things you do here at AAR, I am just thankful you are willing to do it at all!

    Looking forward to the 22nd to see The Best of the Rest!

  2. AMK says:

    Ha! Mary Balogh for the win! :)))

  3. LeeF says:

    I love how flexible and willing you all are to provide more information. I am excited to have more to parse and ponder.

    • Yuri says:

      Me too!

      I’m impressed at how robust the Top100 results are – I think it really validates the current approach. But I love seeing the Top100 Authors too!

      It’s really interesting that the top 21 authors are all represented in the poll but that the others range down to Charlotte Bronte, who at #66 is the lowest ranked author to make it into the poll, which she did at #24 with one book (Which really illustrates the effect of having all the love concentrated on one book or spread out over many which is what I am presuming happened to Carla Kelly at #22).

      Thank-you so much for giving us all this data to play with!

  4. PatAAR says:

    Whoa! In the author’s list, it doesn’t pay to write only a very few books, does it? Poor Bronte and Austen, dragged down from their popularity by skimpy output. LOL (Just goes to show that you only need to write one or two very very good books, like Harper Lee did.)

  5. TerryS says:

    This is great! Thanks for posting this information.

    More of my “go to” authors are on the top 100 author list than are reflected in the top 100 books.

    Interesting to think about Carla Kelly coming in at 22 with none of her books making the list (I had 7 titles on my own personal list.), while Jennifer Ashley comes in at 25 and has one title ranked at no. 4 on the top 100 poll. (A book, which I also included on my list.)

    I think your alternative scenarios make the point – this is how the readers voted. While the ultimate top 100 list would not be my top 100, I don’t have any quibble with the results.

    • Mary says:

      I think it is because Carla Kelly has written so many great books, it is hard to choose from her work. We probably have different books of hers that are our favorites.

      • TerryS says:

        Mary: I think it is because Carla Kelly has written so many great books, it is hard to choose from her work.We probably have different books of hers that are our favorites.

        That’s my conclusion too!

  6. Eliza says:

    Thanks so much for these other insights into the results! I especially enjoyed the top 100 authors receiving the most points, and I confess being happy at seeing Mary Balogh at the top.

    Please try not to cringe at another suggestion… would it be possible somewhere down the line to do a straightforward favorite author list, one not based on individual books or the number written by any one person but just on your favorite authors, full stop? It could be kept to maybe 25 to make it slightly more manageable, d’ya think? Just a thought.

    Thanks again!

    • LinnieGayl says:

      Definitely possible at some point. Must turn focus to the Annual Poll in another month (after resting a bit). Then we’ll talk about what might possibly come next, along with keeping the Special Title Lists going. Poor Rike’s had to handle the Special Title Lists herself the last month or so during the Top 100 Poll.

    • LinnieGayl says:

      Oops, and one thing I wonder about is authors with multiple pseudonyms. Because Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick/Jayne Castle are distinctly different books I listed them separately above. I also did the same for Nora Roberts and JD Robb, two very different types of books. However, there are some authors who confuse me (Judith Ivory/Judy Cuevas or Tom and Sharon Curtis/Laura London). Some readers list one name for a title while other readers list the other name. Since they’re the same titles (unlike the case of the JD Robb/Nora Roberts titles) they could really be combined, or am I wrong? See…thinking about such a poll :)

  7. Tee says:

    Good job, ladies. You are listening to us, even though nothing changed drastically in the results. Where in heaven’s name do you find the time? I’ll add my voice to the others in thanking all of you for the time you spent collecting and tallying, especially when most of the ballots probably arrived just before the due date.

  8. SuePS says:

    I disagree with splitting authors and their other names. While the concepts behind the books may be different, it’s the same voice and the same mind behind them. Thus, I read all of Nora Roberts/JD Robb, all of Krentz/Quick/Castle (and note that some have been reissued under a different name than originally), etc. So I’d like to know what happens when all of an author’s personas are combined. :)

    • LinnieGayl says:

      Well, clearly I like the division of Roberts/Robb and Krentz/Quick/Castle as I did it that way :) I should say I’m a heavy reader of all of them (as Lee and Cindy will testify to from seeing my ballot). However, if I had combined them, the combination of Roberts/Robb would move to 4th place and the Krentz/Quick/Castle combination would move to 13th place.

      Okay, putting the data away. Getting back to life.

    • HaleyAAR says:

      I think I like them divided because, even though the author is the same, the stories are so different. For example, I have loved a number of Nora Robert’s books but I have no interest in her J.D. Robb publications.

  9. Leslie says:

    Thanks again! As a few others have said, many of my “go to” authors didn’t make the top books list, but are prominent in the top authors list… Love it!

    Several people have been talking about the seeming imbalance of historical books… And that didn’t seem to change with the author list. I wonder if romance readers really do generally prefer historical novels, or if when it comes to contemporary and other genres, there are more writers and more styles, and while we tend to come together on what makes a good historical (in a broad sense) we are more varied in the type/genre in most of our other reading… Anyway, thanks so much for all the number crunching and re-crunching.

  10. Paola says:

    Anne Stuart only 40 while Tessa Dare is 26.

  11. MEK says:

    Loved seeing Ellen O’Connell (68) on the author list.

  12. dick says:

    The author list is more indicative than the title list, I think, for it suggests how a particular author appeals to a greater number of readers, even though they can’t agree on a favorite.

  13. Eliza says:

    Thinking about this blog and the Top 100 list made me decide to go back through past blogs to re-review the AAR Staff Top 10 Picks, a feature I thoroughly enjoyed at the time. And even though I had made notes when they were first posted, all this recent talk about lists made me go back to make yet another list for more books suggestions as I re-reviewed those blogs. Also, while I enjoyed anticipating each list as it came out in the past, it was also very enjoyable to look at them all in one sitting.

    Sorry but here comes another cringe factor… Would it be possible, again somewhere down the road if time ever permits, to put the all of the staff picks in one place together as a special feature? I’d be happy with just the titles of each person’s picks if all of the text may be too cumbersome. Or perhaps a link could be created to the blogs for the text? Again, just a thought. Anyway, thanks again for those great blogs too!

  14. Patty says:

    As if my TBR pile wasn’t big enough now I have to go and add all the titles I don’t have already!!!

    Thanks… LOL

  15. HaleyAAR says:

    This made me smile because I checked out Pride and Prejudice, Outlander, and The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie from work today without evening seeing the list. It looks like I made some good choices.

  16. PatF says:

    Thank you for the lists and all the work that goes into preparing them. I was gratified to see that I have read six out of the top ten books. And as a “senior” citizen, it was good to see Georgette Heyer among the favorite authors.

  17. Joane says:

    It would be interesting to see which book is the most loved for each of those 100 authors. Of course, those that entered in the Top 100 list are easy to find out. And in ‘The Rest of the best’ I’m sure there will me more. I’m curious about my favourite writer, Sandra brown, which one is the most appreciated? Still ‘Slow Heat in Heaven’? Or a more modern one?

  18. Gypsy says:

    I love this website. I thank you sincerely for your hard work. The first top 100 list I read was about ten years ago. I worked my way through the list as I was a new romance reader. I had and still have countless hours of enjoyment wandering through these adventures in my mind. I was thrilled to see Ellen O’Connell make the list. Now I have notes on some authors I have missed. Thank you for these gifts.