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.
|#||Author||Nationality||Number of books||Estimated sales|
|1||William Shakespeare||British||42||2 billion – 4 billion|
|2||Agatha Christie||British||85||2 billion – 4 billion|
|3||Danielle Steel||American||179||900 million+|
|4||Harold Robbins||American||23||750 million – 750 million|
|5||Dr. Seuss||American||44||700 million+|
|6||Enid Blyton||British||800+||600 million+|
|7||Barbara Cartland||British||723||500 million – 750 million|
|8||Georges Simenon||Belgian||570||500 million – 700 million|
|9||Eiichiro Oda||Japanese||104||516.5 million – 516.5 million|
|10||J. K. Rowling||British||22||500 million+|
|11||Nora Roberts||American||200+||500 million+|
|12||Sidney Sheldon||American||21||370 million – 600 million|
|13||Gilbert Patten||American||209||125 million – 500 million|
|14||Akira Toriyama||Japanese||66||298 million – 438 million|
|15||Leo Tolstoy||Russian||48||400 million – 450 million|
|16||Alexander Pushkin||Russian||17||350 million – 400 million|
|17||Dean Koontz||American||91||325 million – 400 million|
|18||Jackie Collins||British||25||250 million – 400 million|
|19||Horatio Alger||American||135||200 million – 400 million|
|20||R. L. Stine||American||430+||100 million – 400 million|
|21||Stephen King||American||77||350 million+|
|22||Paulo Coelho||Brazilian||28||320 million+|
|23||René Goscinny||French||108||300 million – 340 million|
|24||Jirō Akagawa||Japanese||500+||300 million – 330 million|
|25||Jeffrey Archer||British||33||250 million – 330 million|
|26||Louis L’Amour||American||101||230 million – 330 million|
|27||Erle Stanley Gardner||American||140||100 million – 325 million|
|28||Edgar Wallace||British||175||300 million – 310 million|
|29||Janet Dailey||American||93||300 million – 310 million|
|30||Jin Yong||Chinese||15||100 million – 300 million|
Best-selling female authors
- 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 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.
If you like to play word games with your friends or even on your own, you can check out the WordsFinder tool that can help you learn new words or practice scenarios you would find in-game.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- “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
- 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.
- 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
- In total, books written by J. R. R. Tolkien have sold more than 150 million copies.
- Movie adaptations of his works have also made over $5.5 billion at the box office.
- His title “The Lord of the Rings” was voted as the book of the 20th century by UK Waterstones customers.
- 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’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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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’s books have sold over 190 million copies worldwide.
- His “Percy Jackson” series alone has sold over 180 million copies.
- After the release of two movies from the series, Rick Riordan’s book sales more than doubled.
- 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.
- 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.