Best-selling Authors Statistics

Best-selling Authors Statistics

Online platforms have made it easier for authors of all backgrounds to publish their titles cross-format, with less dependence on traditional publishers. Despite this, the most recognized best-selling authors continue to dominate sales charts each year, predominantly through works within the Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi and Thriller genres.

Best-selling fiction authors by estimated sales

  • By looking at demographics, American and British authors make up 70% of the best-selling fiction authors.
  • William Shakespeare is listed as the best-selling fiction author of all time having sold between 2 – 4 billion copies.
  • More impressive still, he did so whilst only releasing 42 different books.
  • Of the best-selling fiction authors by estimated sales, 13.33% had released more than 500 publications.
#AuthorNationalityNumber of booksEstimated sales
1William ShakespeareBritish422 billion – 4 billion
2Agatha ChristieBritish852 billion – 4 billion
3Danielle SteelAmerican179900 million+
4Harold RobbinsAmerican23750 million – 750 million
5Dr. SeussAmerican44700 million+
6Enid BlytonBritish800+600 million+
7Barbara CartlandBritish723500 million – 750 million
8Georges SimenonBelgian570500 million – 700 million
9Eiichiro OdaJapanese104516.5 million – 516.5 million
10J. K. RowlingBritish22500 million+
11Nora RobertsAmerican200+500 million+
12Sidney SheldonAmerican21370 million – 600 million
13Gilbert PattenAmerican209125 million – 500 million
14Akira ToriyamaJapanese66298 million – 438 million
15Leo TolstoyRussian48400 million – 450 million
16Alexander PushkinRussian17350 million – 400 million
17Dean KoontzAmerican91325 million – 400 million
18Jackie CollinsBritish25250 million – 400 million
19Horatio AlgerAmerican135200 million – 400 million
20R. L. StineAmerican430+100 million – 400 million
21Stephen KingAmerican77350 million+
22Paulo CoelhoBrazilian28320 million+
23René GoscinnyFrench108300 million – 340 million
24Jirō AkagawaJapanese500+300 million – 330 million
25Jeffrey ArcherBritish33250 million – 330 million
26Louis L’AmourAmerican101230 million – 330 million
27Erle Stanley GardnerAmerican140100 million – 325 million
28Edgar WallaceBritish175300 million – 310 million
29Janet DaileyAmerican93300 million – 310 million
30Jin YongChinese15100 million – 300 million

Best-selling female authors

Agatha Christie

  • Agatha Christie is acknowledged as the all time best-selling fiction author.
  • It is estimated that she has sold over 2 billion copies of her books.
  • Her book sales are only exceeded by The Bible and the works of William Shakespeare.

Charlotte Brontë

  • Charlotte Brontë was launched into literary fame following the publishing of her work “Jane Eyre” in 1847.
  • The title is estimated to have sold more than 2 million copies.
  • A movie adaptation of the book was released in 2011, which has grossed almost $35 million as of 2022.

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Colleen Hoover

  • In total, Colleen Hoover has sold over 20 million books.
  • During 2022 she sold 8.6 million print copies. 
  • She started her career as a self-published author and as such, doesn’t have a dependency on a particular publishing house.

Danielle Steel

  • Out of currently living authors, Danielle Steel is listed as the best-selling fiction author of all time.
  • Her annual income is estimated to exceed $20 million as of 2022.
  • Her titles have sold over 900 million copies around the globe.

Delia Owens

  • Her first novel, “Where the Crawdads Sing”, has sold over 12 million copies worldwide.
  • As of 2019, it was ranked #1 on Amazon’s most sold fiction books list.
  • It was adapted into a film in 2022 which grossed over $140 million globally.

Diana Gabaldon

  • Her eight-book series “Outlander” has sold more than 50 million copies as of 2021.
  • The next novel in the series, “Go Tell the Bees that I’m Gone”, sold almost 183,000 copies within a week of its release.
  • As of 2021, she is estimated to have a net worth of $110 million.

Harper Lee

  • Harper Lee is known for her novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” which has sold over 40 million copies.
  • The book was selling at a rate of over 2 million copies per year by the 1990s.
  • Her other publication, “Go Set a Watchman” sold more than a million copies during its week of release and was HarperCollins’ fastest-selling book in history.

J. K. Rowling

  • Known all over the world for her “Harry Potter” series, J. K. Rowling’s books have sold upwards of 500 million copies.
  • She has also been voted as America’s favorite author.
  • In total, eight Harry Potter movies have been released based on her books, which have grossed over $9 billion worldwide.

Jane Austen

  • In terms of global sales, more than 30 million copies of Jane Austen’s books have been sold.
  • “Pride and Prejudice” is her most popular novel and has sold more than 20 million copies alone.
  • In terms of her net income, she made an estimated $66,398 from her books during her lifetime.

Kristin Hannah

  • Hannah’s best-selling work is “The Nightingale”, which has sold over 4.5 million copies globally.
  • As of 2022, her net worth is estimated to be $12 million.
  • “Firefly Lane” premiered as a Netflix original series in 2021, starring Sarah Chalke and Katherine Heigl.

Madeline Miller

  • Her novel “The Song of Achilles” has sold 2 million copies as of 2022.
  • After featuring in the TikTok book community “BookTok”, its sales received a major boost in 2021.
  • Miller’s following title “Circe” sold 134,000 copies across all formats.

Nora Roberts

  • It is estimated that more than 500 million copies of Nora Roberts’ books have been sold.
  • As of 2022, it is believed that she earns over $30 million each year.
  • In terms of Kindle editions, she has sold over 1 million copies of her books.

Taylor Jenkins Reid

  • Although it was published 5 years earlier, “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” sold over 500,000 copies in 2022.
  • In total, there are more than 5 million Taylor Jenkins Reid books available in printed editions.
  • Four of her titles have been/are being adapted to TV or film.

Toni Morrison

  • “Beloved” (1987) has been regarded as one of American literature’s most important works.
  • As of 2019, Toni Morrison’s title “Song of Solomon” has sold 570,000 copies.
  • At the time of her death during the same year, her net worth stood at $20 million.

Best-selling male authors

Dan Brown

  • Over 200 million copies of Dan Brown’s books are available in print.
  • As of 2009, his hit title “The Da Vinci Code” (2003) had sold over 80 million copies.
  • The book’s movie adaptation that followed in 2006 grossed over $760 million globally.

Dr. Seuss

  • More than 700 million copies of Dr. Seuss’ books have been sold globally. 
  • Despite being released in 1960, “Green Eggs and Ham” sold over 338,000 copies in the USA alone during 2020.
  • Although he passed away in 1991, his works still earned $33 million during 2020.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • “The Great Gatsby”, published in 1925, has sold over 30 million copies.
  • The hit title is still selling at a rate of around 500,000 copies annually.
  • Two modern movie adaptations of Fitzgerald’s works have made over $650 million at the box office combined, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008) and “The Great Gatsby” (2013).

J. R. R. Tolkien

James Patterson

  • More than 425 million copies of James Patterson’s books have been sold.
  • He is considered to be the best-selling modern book author.
  • During 2020 he earned over $80 million, making him the highest paid US author for the year.

John Steinbeck

  • John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” has sold at least 14 million copies.
  • A special edition copy of the title was sold at auction for $47,800 during 2007.
  • Another of Steinbeck’s major works, “Of Mice and Men” has sold upwards of 7.5 million copies.

John Grisham

  • Publications by John Grisham have sold over 300 million copies.
  • It is estimated that John Grisham earns $21 million per year.
  • At the box office, his movies have earned over $645 million.

Neil Gaiman

  • More than 45 million copies of Neil Gaiman’s books have been sold. 
  • Of this number, over 30 million graphic novels and 10 million novels have been sold.
  • He is most widely-known for his “Sandman” series of graphic novels, which have sold upwards of 30 million copies.

Paulo Coelho

  • Worldwide, more than 320 million copies of his books have been sold.
  • He is renowned for “The Alchemist” which sold over 150 million copies alone, one of just nine books to have sold over 100 million copies.
  • Its audiobook version was published in 2005 and has sold over 2 million copies.

Rick Riordan

Roald Dahl

  • More than 250 million copies of Roald Dahl’s books have been sold.
  • From his movie adaptations, his books have made more than $750 million.
  • Netflix purchased the Roald Dahl Story Company for more than £500 million in 2021.

Stephen King

  • His publications have sold more than 350 million copies globally.
  • Movies adapted from his works have grossed over $1.7 billion at the box office.
  • On average, Stephen King releases new publications every 20 weeks.