Female Authors Statistics

Publishing is an industry dominated by women – over 74% of all publishing industry employees are declaring as cis women. Even though this is a drop from the 78% recorded in 2015, women remain dominant in the industry.

But what do the numbers say for authors? In this report, we analyzed how many female authors are in the United States, how their number changed over the years, and how present women are among the most successful authors in the history of publishing.

How many female authors are in the US?

  • The most recent records show that there are 103,693 female authors in the United States as of 2020.
  • This is a slight increase compared to 2019 when there were around 102,692 of US authors declared as women.
  • The number of female authors in the US has been growing every year since 2014, going from 85,105 to 103,693 over the past 6 years.
  • This means that the number of female authors has risen by 21.84% since 2014, but the growth has been slower over the last 2 years.
  • Since 2018, there have been over 100,000 female writers in the US.
YearNumber of female authorsChange
Since 201421.84%
  • Female authors account for 60.72% of all registered authors in the United States as of 2020.
  • Women have been accounting for over 60% of all US authors and writers since 2018.
  • The share of women among US writers has been growing slowly but steadily over the past 6 years.
  • In 2014, around 58.69% of all authors in the US were women, meaning that the share of female authors jumped by 3.45% over 6 years.
YearShare of female authorsChange
Since 20143.45%
  • Women account for 46.97% of the American workforce while accounting for 60.72% of the American authors.
  • This means that women are 29% more likely to become authors compared to the “average” occupation in the US.
  • In 2014, women were 25% more likely to become authors compared to other occupations.
  • The growth of female authors is also faster than the growth of women in the American workforce – since 2014, the share of females in the US workforce grew by 0.22% while the share of females among the US authors grew by 3.45%.
  • One in every 667 women in the United States is a writer or an author as of 2020.
YearShare of female workforceChangeShare of female authorsChange
Since 20140.22%3.45%

Best-selling female authors of all time

Even though women dominate the publishing industry and outnumber men as writers and authors, men are still selling more books. There are at least 26 female authors who sold over 100 million copies of their books worldwide, compared to the 74 male authors with over 100 million copies sold.

  • With estimated sales of as high as 4 billion copies, Agatha Christie is the best-selling female author of all time. She is also, along with William Shakespeare, the best-selling author of all time.
  • Barbara Cartland sold up to 1 billion books worldwide, making her the second best-selling female author of all time and third best-selling author overall.
  • Danielle Steel ranks as the third best-selling female writer of all time with estimated sales of 800 million copies.
  • J. K. Rowling and Enid Blyton are tied at the fourth spot of the best-selling female writers of all time, all reportedly selling around 600 million copies of their books worldwide.
  • Among 26 female authors who sold over 100 million copies, 22 come from the United States (11) and Great Britain (11).
  • The other 4 authors come from Japan, France, Spain, and Sweden.

Below is the list of the best-selling female authors of all time.

RankAuthorCopies sold (largest estimate)Books publishedNationality
1Agatha Christie4 billion85British
2Barbara Cartland1 billion723British
3Danielle Steel800 million179American
4J. K. Rowling600 million22British
5Enid Blyton600 million800British
6Corín Tellado400 million4,000Spanish
7Jackie Collins400 million25British
8Nora Roberts400 million200American
9Janet Dailey300 million93American
10Jan Berenstain260 million300American
11Rumiko Takahashi200 million/Japanese
12Ann M. Martin180 million335American
13Astrid Lindgren165 million100Swedish
14Anne Rice150 million40American
15Beatrix Potter150 million23British
16Debbie Macomber140 million/American
17EL James125 million7British
18Catherine Cookson120 million103British
19Stephenie Meyer116 million6American
20Judith Krantz100 million12American
21Eleanor Hibbert100 million200British
22Denise Robins100 million200British
23Anne Golon100 million14French
24Mary Higgins Clark100 million/American
25Penny Jordan100 million200British
26Patricia Cornwell100 million34American

Who are the wealthiest female authors of all time?

There are two female writers whose estimated wealth exceeds $1 billion and 4 others with over $100 million in net worth.

  • Élisabeth Badinter is the wealthiest female author of all time, with an estimated net worth of over $1.3 billion.
  • J.K. Rowling is the only other female author billionaire whose wealth exceeds $1 billion as of 2023.
  • Nora Roberts currently has over $420 in net worth, making her the third wealthiest female author of all time.
  • Another American author, Danielle Steel, made over $310 as an author and ranks no. 4 on the all-time list of the richest female writers.
  • Barbara Taylor Bradford’s net worth is estimated at $300 million, making her the fifth wealthiest female writer of all time.
RankNameNationalityGenreNet worth
1Élisabeth BadinterFrenchNonfiction$1.3 billion
2J.K. RowlingBritishFantasy$1 billion
3Nora RobertsAmericanRomance$420 million
4Danielle SteelAmericanRomance$310 million
5Barbara Taylor BradfordBritishRomance$300 million
6Stephenie MeyerAmericanFantasy$125 million
7Suzanne CollinsAmericanFantasy$90 million
8Janet EvanovichAmericanMystery/Thriller$80 million
9Meg CabotAmericanRomance$80 million