Book Editor Shawn Coyne, in his most excellent The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know (highly recommended), offers aspiring writers the following wisdom about whom not to emulate. Has something to offer entrepreneurs as well:
Here’s a difficult concept to grasp and I’m sure I’ll go to my grave trying to explain it. Just because a book becomes a bestseller doesn’t make it something to emulate. There are a myriad of reasons why some books become bestsellers and still don’t work as Stories (See The Emperor’s New Clothes phenomenon). Sometimes, there’s just a hunger for a particular kind of book (Vampires, Zombies, BDSM novels) based on some ephemeral need in humanity’s collective subconscious that drives sales. Trying to write one of those books that get swept up in the tide or even, the ultimate for some, a book seen as the cause of the tide, is folly. It’s like selling your house and putting all of your money on number seven at the roulette table because you have a feeling number seven is going to hit!
Chasing the vagaries of the bestseller list (believing in formula and not form) is the mark of the amateur. That’s putting the by-product of the Story (money, fame, etc.) ahead of the Story itself. Your contempt for form and lust for formula may even give you what you want. You write the next huge thing that makes you hundreds of millions of dollars.
Now what? That kind of writing is equivalent to winning a lottery.
Why not just play the lottery?