Thursday 29 August 2013

The New and Improved SFF All-Time Sales List

In 2008 I published a list of the all-time, biggest-selling genre works, attracting comments from luminaries such as Neil Gaiman and John Ringo. In the years since, I have received frequent requests for an update to the list. This has proven difficult as publishers seem reluctant to give out figures for all but the very biggest-selling authors. Nevertheless, I have now attempted an update.

As before, this list is based on information from Wikipedia, authors' own websites and publisher PR details. In many cases I was not able to find updated figures since 2008, and those figures stand unadjusted (noted where so). In some cases, some speculation was required and this is also noted. This list is by no means exhaustive and likely only accurate in the broadest strokes (though in almost all cases, I have gone with the more conservative figures).

J.K. Rowling: one of the few fantasy authors who could afford her very own fighter aircraft squadron. Not that she has one. As far as we know.

1) J.K Rowling (c. 450 million)
J.K. Rowling may have completed Harry Potter, but the series is still selling phenomenally well. Coupled with the success of her two adult novels (The Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo's Calling), her position at the top of the table is maintained and her lead increased.

2) Stephen King (c. 350 million)
As said in The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1996), King's worldwide sales are totally incalculable and the above figure remains fairly conservative. King has published a string of popular novels since 2008, so his sales are likely up, but by how much is anyone's guess. A new piece of information to emerge since 2008 is that King's Dark Tower series has sold more than 30 million copies by itself, which would be enough to get into the Top Twenty comfortably even without his many other books.

3) JRR Tolkien (c. 300 million)
Tolkien's sales are likewise incalculable: 100,000 copies of a pirated version of The Lord of the Rings were sold in the United States alone in under a year, so the figures for unauthorised versions of the book in other countries are completely unguessable. What remains certain is that The Lord of the Rings is the biggest-selling single genre novel of all time, and possibly the best-selling single novel of all time. More than 50 million copies of the book have been sold since 2001 alone. The 100+ million sales of The Hobbit alone have also been bolstered significantly by the new Peter Jackson movies. If anything, the above figure may well be the most conservative on the list and Tolkien's sales may be vastly more (and possibly more than King's).

[Dean Koontz (c. 200 million)]
Dean Koontz's official website claims sales of 450 million, which seem hard to credit for an author with a big profile, but nowhere near that of King or Rowling. Other figures suggest 200 million, which seems much more credible. However, Koontz's eligibility for the list is questionable given that he has written numerous non-SFF novels (though many of them still within the horror or suspense thriller genres). Thus his placement on the list is for those who consider him to be a genre author.

[Michael Crichton (c. 200 million)]
Michael Crichton published 27 novels during his lifetime, selling more than 200 million copies. Only eight of those novels are SF, but these include most of his best-known novels (including Jurassic Park, The Lost World, Sphere, Congo and The Andromeda Strain). His placement here is for comparative purposes and for those who consider him to be a genre author.

4) Anne Rice (136 million)
Anne Rice's vampire books were a huge phenomenon through the 1980s and 1990s, bolstered by the Tom Cruise/Brad Pitt movie.

5) CS Lewis (120 million+)
No change here, though Lewis's sales have likely increased somewhat due to the movies based on his books.

6) Stephanie Meyer (116 million)
The Twilight series has sold an enormous amount of copies in just eight years on sale. An impressive achievement.

7) Edgar Rice Burroughs (100 million+)
Edgar Rice Burroughs was a hugely prolific author. He has sold more than 100 million copies of his novels, including the SF Barsoom, Pellucidar, Venus, Caspak and Moon series and the non-SF Tarzan series.

8) Sir Arthur C. Clarke (100 million+)
Sir Arthur C. Clarke gains the distinction of being the only author on the list to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and have an orbit named after him. Clarke was already a well-known, big-selling SF author when the film 2001: A Space Odyssey and his television coverage of the first moon landing catapaulted him into becoming a household name. A steady stream of best-selling, high-profile and critically-acclaimed SF novels continued into the 1980s, when his profile was again boosted by his TV series, Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World. As well as his SF novels he also published a large number of non-fiction books and volumes of criticism on matters of science.

9) Suzanne Collins (100 million+)
Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games hadn't even been published when I created the last list. The trilogy has been published in full, sold over 100 million copies (over 65 million in the USA alone) and generated two hit movies since then (with two more incoming). Very impressive.

10) Andre Norton (90 million+)
Andre Norton was one of science fiction and fantasy's most prolific authors, penning around 300 books (either novels or story collections) in a career stretching over decades.

11) Sir Terry Pratchett (85 million+)
Pratchett remains one of the biggest-selling SFF novelists in the world and, because his Discworld books are mostly stand-alone novels, he may actually have a lot more readers than several of the above.

12) Robert Jordan (80 million+)
On the previous list, Jordan had a lower position based on the frequently-given figure of 44 million. That has since been boosted by an additional 12 million sales of The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight (and possibly early sales of A Memory of Light). However, since then it has been revealed that this 56 million figure is for the United States and Canada alone. When a series has been sold in more than 20 languages (as this has), the rule of thumb is that half of the total sales figures come from outside the USA. The UK alone has added sales of 5 million to the figure. As a result, worldwide sales of at least 80 million for Wheel of Time are credible, and significantly more than that is possible.

[John Saul (60 million+)]
John Saul has sold over 60 million copies of his horror novels. Most of them fall into the psychological horror or thriller sub-categories, with only a few involving supernatural forces.

13) James Herbert (54 million+)
The recently-deceased James Herbert has sold more than 54 million copies of his horror novels, most of which had an SF or supernatural twist. 

14) Richard Adams (50 million+)
Watership Down has sold more than 50 million copies by itself, though its fantasy status is debatable (you can argue about this in the comments!). I tend to count it as such, since aside from the talking rabbits there's also the fact that ghosts and spirit guides play a role. Adams has also sold not-inconsiderable numbers of his fantasy novels set in the Beklan Empire, Shardik and Maia, not to mention further works related to Watership Down.

[Dennis Wheatley (50 million)]
Dennis Wheatley was the biggest-selling British author of the 1960s and 1970s, routinely selling more than a million copies a year for over a decade. The majority of his books were crime, political or spy thrillers. However, he also published novels featuring supernatural elements, resulting from his own fascination with the occult. As a result, a small number of his books may be of genre interest.

[Jean M. Auel (45 million+)]
Jean M. Auel has sold over 45 million copies of her Earth's Children sequence. Though written as speculative history, some have categorised the books as alternate history and thus borderline SF.

[Morgan Llywelyn (40 million)]
Morgan Llywelyn is a best-selling Irish author whose work consists mostly of historical novels. However, some of them have a supernatural or occult twist, sometimes fairly minor and occasionally more notable.

15) Christopher Paolini (39 million)
Christopher Paolini's four-volume Inheritance Cycle has proven very popular, despite the relative failure of the Eragon movie.

16) Michael Ende (35 million)
Michael Ende has sold more than 16 million copies of his novel, The Neverending Story, by itself and almost 20 million copies of his various other books. The success of the series as bolstered by several films based on his books.

17) Charlaine Harris (32.5 million)
Charlaine Harris has sold more than 30 million copies of her Southern Vampire Mysteries series, driven by the success of its TV adaptation, True Blood.

18) Stanislaw Lem (30 million+)
The Polish author of Solaris and numerous other SFF novels has sold more than 30 million copies of his work worldwide.

19) R.A. Salvatore (30 million+)
Similarly to the Jordan situation, Salvatore's previously-reported sales figure of between 15 and 20 million was for the United States alone. Given his widespread global fame, a total worldwide figure of at least 30 million seems credible.

20) Sherrilyn Kenyon (30 million+)
Sherrilyn Kenyon is a prolific urban fantasy author who also publishers supernatural-tinged historical fantasy under the pen name Kinley MacGregor. She has over 30 million books in print in over 100 countries.

21) Robert Heinlein (30 million)
One of the grand masters of old-school SF, Heinlein had sold 11.5 million books by the early 1980s and about 30 million in total to date. Some sources suggest he may have sold considerably more worldwide.

22) George R.R. Martin (28 million+)
Winning the prize for 'most improved sales', the sales of A Song of Ice and Fire have gone through the roof since the previous list. The books sold more than 9 million copies in 2011 alone. Though Martin's sales were starting to noticeably take off anyway in the mid-2000s, the main reason for the boost has been the remarkable success of the Game of Thrones TV series on HBO. Martin has now sold 22 million copies of the series as physial books and 6 million as ebooks.

23) Kaoru Kurimoto (28 million)
Japanese author Kaoru Kurimoto published a startling 130 volumes of her Guin Saga series of fantasy adventure novels prior to her premature death in 2009.

24) Terry Brooks (26.5 million+)
Terry Brooks's sales have increased by 5 million since the previous list. Brooks has sold 26 million paper books and 500,000 ebooks.

25) George Orwell (25 million+)
Orwell's prophetic SF allegory Nineteen Eighty-Four has sold more than 25 million copies by itself, with an unknown (but likely massive) number of copies of his allegorical animal work Animal Farm have also been shifted over the years.

26) Marion Zimmer Bradley (25 million+)
Marion Zimmber Bradley sold more than 20 million copies of her feminist take on the Arthurian legend, The Mists of Avalon, by itself. Her Darkover series has sold an additional 5 million copies. Her many other books may take this total figure rather higher. 

27) Darren Shan (25 million+)
Irish author Darren Shan has sold more than 25 million copies of his numerous YA and adult fantasy and horror novels.  

28) Terry Goodkind (25 million)
This is an old figure, dating back to 2008. No more recent figures have been given, though the publication of several additional novels makes it likely this figure will be somewhat higher.

29) Diana Gabaldon (25 million)
The author of the Outlander series, in which a 20th Century nurse time-travels back to Jacobite times and falls in love with a Highlander. This is now being made into a Starz TV series, which I expect will drive additional sales of the series.

30) Cassandra Clare (24 million)
Cassandra Clare is the author of The Shadowhunter Chronicles, made up of the Mortal Instruments, Infernal Devices and the forthcoming Dark Artifices sub-series.

31) Kevin J. Anderson (23 million)
Anderson has sold 20 million copies of his franchise tie-ins in the Dune, Star Wars, StarCraft and X-Files worlds. However, he has also sold a reasonable amount of his original series as well.

32) Eoin Colfer (21 million)
The Artemis Fowl series has sold an additional 3 million copies since the first list was assembled.

33) Isaac Asimov (20 million+)
The seven volumes of the Foundation series alone have sold more than 20 million copies. When coupled with Asimov's other numerous books (he published more than 400 books in his lifetime), his total sales are likely a lot higher than this.

34) Margaret Weis (c. 20 million)
Margaret Weis is best-known for her many collaborations with Tracy Hickman, most notably in the the Dragonlance fantasy world. She has also written several solo novels and in collaboration with other writers, and for many years ran her own RPG company.

35) Tracy Hickman (c. 20 million)
Tracy Hickman is best-known for his work on the Dragonlance series with Margaret Weis. He has also written solo novels and in collaboration with others, not to mention working on gaming materials.

36) Brian Jacques (c. 20 million)
The late Brian Jacques has sold over 20 million copies of his Redwall series of animal-based epic fantasies.

37) Kazumasa Hirai (c. 20 million)
Kazumasa Hirai is the author of the Genma Taisen series of post-apocalyptic novels and graphic novels.

38) Raymond E. Feist (20 million)
Feist has sold more than 20 million copies of his Riftwar Cycle, which he recently concluded after thirty volumes. Some reports suggest that Magician by itself (in both its one-volume and American two-volume formats) accounts for almost half those sales.

39) Michael Moorcock (20 million)
Moorcock has sold an impressive 20 million copies of his numerous books over the course of his lengthy career.

40) Mercedes Lackey (20 million)
The prolific Mercedes Lackey has sold more than 20 million copies of her fantasy novels, the best-known of which form the Valdemar series. 

41) David Eddings (18 million+)
Eddings had sold more than 7 million copies of the Belgariad and Malloreon series alone by 1995, with another 1.5 million copies sold of the combined Elenium and Tamuli trilogies. The total figure (incoporating almost twenty years of additional sales and his later Belgariad prequels and other books) has now passed 18 million.

42) Frank Herbert (18 million)
Frank Herbert's Dune is the biggest-selling SF novel of all time, shifting 12 million copies by itself. I would hazard that most of the remaining 6 million copies are of the five other Dune novels as well.

43) Hideyuki Kikuchi (18 million)
Hideyuki Kikuchi has sold some 18 million copies of his Vampire Hunter D series, not including its manga spin-offs.

44) Anne McCaffrey (18 million+)
Anne McCaffrey has sold 18 million copies of her Dragonriders of Pern series, with more than half a million copies sold of her collaborations with her son Todd alone.

45) Tad Williams (17 million)
Tad Williams had sold 17 million copies of his books, including the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy, the Otherland quartet, the Shadowmarch series and several stand-alones, by 2011. 

46) Larry Niven (17 million+)
Larry Niven has sold 10 million copies of his collaborations with Jerry Pournelle alone. His Ringworld books add a further 7 million sales on top of that.

47) Douglas Adams (16 million)
He may have published only a small number of novels (including the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy series) and suffered tremendously from writer's block, but Douglas Adams' sales remain impressive.

48) Brandon Sanderson (15 million)
Brandon Sanderson only published his first novel in 2005, so to achieve 15 million sales in just eight years is extraordinarily impressive, with 12.5 million sales from his three Wheel of Time novels and over 2.5 million of his solo books. More than 1.5 million copies of the Mistborn trilogy by itself have been shifted.

49) Rick Riordan (15 million)
Rick Riordan is the author of the Percy Jackson series, which has so far spawned two successful movie adaptation and driven renewed sales of the books.

50) Philip Pullman (15 million)
The lukewarm reception to The Golden Compass movie hasn't dented Pullman's book-selling power, with the His Dark Materials trilogy shifting 15 million copies worldwide.

51) Yoshiki Tanaka (15 million)
Yoshiki Tanaka is the author of the ten-volume Legend of the Galactic Heroes SF novel series, which is hugely popular in Japan. It has spawned numerous adaptations and spin-offs in other media.

52) Timothy Zahn (15 million)
Timothy Zahn is the biggest-selling author of Star Wars novels, with the 15 million figure coming from his work in that setting alone. You can add hundreds of thousands more sales from his own novels on top of that.

53) Diana Wynne Jones (10 million+)
The late Diana Wynne Jones sold more than 10 million copies of her books worldwide, a million of them in the UK alone.

54) Robert E. Howard (10 million+)
Robert E. Howard's hugely influential short stories, including the Conan the Barbarian and Kull the Conqueror series, have sold more than 10 million copies in book form alone. His total sales, including magazine sales driven by his stories, are likely incalculable.

55) Stephen Donaldson (10 million)
Stephen Donaldson's Lord Foul's Bane, published in 1977, kick-started the modern epic fantasy explosion alongside Brooks' Sword of Shannara. However, unlike Brooks who has continued to work in the Shannara universe ever since, Donaldson spent a whole two decades trying to stay away from his signature character with works such as Mordant's Need and the superlative Gap series before recently returning to the series, and the bestseller lists, with The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Note that Lord Foul's Bane had sold 10 million copies by itself by 2004, so this figure will be considerably higher.

56) Neil Gaiman (10 million + )
Neil Gaiman has sold 7 million copies of the Sandman series of graphic novels alone, and Coraline (arguably Gaiman's least-well-known novel) has sold 1 million copies by itself. On that basis this figure - unchanged from 2008 - is likely highly conservative.

57) Alice Sebold (10 million+)
Alice Sebold's afterlife fantasy The Lovely Bones has sold 10 million copies since its publication in 2002, possibly helped by the Peter Jackson movie adaptation.

58) Madeline L'Engle (10 million+)
Madeline L'Engle's Time Quartet and its related spin-off books have been hugely successful, with the first novel in the series, A Wrinkle in Time, selling 10 million copies by itself. The sales of the rest of the series are unknown, so the total may be noticeably higher.

59) Jerry Pournelle (10 million+) 
Jerry Pournelle has sold 10 million copies of his collaborations with Larry Niven.

60) Chris Bunch (10 million+)
Chris Bunch is the co-author (with Allan Cole)  of the Sten SF series, as well as numerous solo works. He sold more than 10 million copies of the Sten series alone, driven the enormous popularity of the series in Russia, of all places. Sales of his solo work, such as the Seer King Trilogy (a fantasy take on the Napoleonic Wars), would likely push this figure higher.

61) Allan Cole (10 million+)
Chris Bunch's collaborator on the Sten series. Unlike Bunch, Cole has written only a few non-Sten books, so his total sales figures are likely closer to the 10 million figure.

62) Peter Straub (10 million+)
Peter Straub is a bestselling horror novelist, arguably best known for his novel Ghost Story and his collaboration with Stephen King, The Talisman. 

63) Frederik Pohl (10 million+)
The late Frederik Pohl's total sales are almost certainly a lot higher, as he sold more than 10 million copies of The Space Merchants by itself.

64) Cyril M. Kornbluth (10 million+)
Cyril Kornbluth has sold more than 10 million copies of his novel The Space Merchants, written in collaboration with Frederik Pohl.

65) Gordon R. Dickson (10 million+)
Gordon R. Dickson has sold 10 million copies of his books, of which the best-known are the Childe Cycle (aka the Dorsai series).

66) Ray Bradbury (8 million+)
Ray Bradbury has sold over 8 million copies of his books in 36 languages.

67) Christopher Golden (8 million+)
Christopher Golden is a highly prolific writer, penning dozens of novels and comic books, both with original material and media tie-ins for properties such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

68) F. Paul Wilson (8 million+)
F. Paul Wilson is the authr of numerous SF and supernatural-tinged thrillers, the best-known of which is the Repairman Jack series.

[Bernard Cornwell (7 million+)]
The overwhelming majority of Cornwell's books are historical adventure novels. However, some claim that his novels are alternate history and his Warlord Chronicles series is both highly speculative and features intimations of magic (through visions and prophecies), so he is included for comparative purposes. These are Cornwell's UK only sales from 2000-09, so his total sales will be notably higher.

69) David Weber (7 million)
The author of the Honor Harington space opera series and the Safehold series, amongst many other works, has become one of the dominant authors of military SF.

70) Orson Scott Card (7 million+)
This is likely a fair bit higher, as Ender's Game by itself has sold seven million copies. Card's other books, including the highly successful sequels and 'interquels' to Ender's Game have also sold extremely well.

71) Roger Zelazny (6.5 million+)
Roger Zelazny has sold more than 3.5 million copies of the Chronicles of Amber series alone and another 3 million for Lord of Light.

72) William Gibson (6.5 million+)
Cyberpunk pioneer William Gibson has sold more than 6.5 million copies of Neuromancer by itself. His total sales will be a lot more.

73) Peter S. Beagle (6 million+)
Peter S. Beagle has sold more than 6 million copies of The Last Unicorn by itself.

74) Gregory Maguire (6 million+)
Gregory Maguire is the author of the Wicked series of tie-ins with L. Frank Baum's Oz series.

75) Laurell K. Hamilton (6 million+)
This figure is from 2008, and may be a lot higher now.

76) Jim Butcher (6 million+)
Jim Butcher has sold more than 4.5 million books according to Nielsen Bookscan and some publicity materials from a few years back suggest 6 million. The true figure could be significantly higher than this. 

77) Jonathan Stroud (6 million+)
The Bartimaeus Sequence has sold over 6 million copies to date.

78) Barbara Hambly (6 million+)
Barbara Hambly has sold over 6 million copies of her books, which include original novels and Star Trek and Star Wars tie-ins. 

79) L. Frank Baum (5 million+)
This figure is very inaccurate; the Oz books by themselves had sold 5 million copies by 1956. In the fifty-seven years since, the series has likely multiplied that several times. However, the early books in the series are now out of copyright, which makes tracking sales figures almost impossible.

80) Daniel Keyes (5 million+)
Daniel Keyes had sold over 5 million copes of Flowers for Algernon by 2004.

81) Garth Nix (5 million)
Garth Nix has sold more than 5 million copies of his SF and fantasy works. 

82) Robert R. McCammon (5 million)
A veteran of the early 1980s horror boom, Robert McCammon has sold 5 million copies of his horror and fantasy novels.

83) Vonda N. McIntyre (5 million)
Vonda McIntyre has sold more than 5 million copies of her novels, which consist of both original work and a number of Star Trek novels. In Star Trek circles she is famous for creating Mr. Sulu's first name for her books, which was later adopted by the films.

84) Audrey Niffenegger (5 million+)
More than 5 million copies of The Time Traveller's Wife have been sold worldwide, half of that total in the USA and UK alone. 

85) Sergei Lukyanenko (5 million+)
Sergei Lukyanenko has sold well over 2 million copies of his Night Watch books in Russia alone and 3 million outside it. His sales have been buoyed up by two movie adaptations of his work.

86) Frank Schätzing (4.2 million+)
Frank Schätzing has sold 3.8 million copies of his 2004 SF novel The Swarm. A later SF novel, Limit, has sold almost half a million copies.

87) Fritz Leiber (4 million+)
Fritz Leiber had sold almost 4 million copies of his Fafhrd and Gray Mouser novels and short stories by 1988 alone, and likely more since then.

88) Lian Hearn (4 million)
Lian Hearn has sold more than 4 million copies of her Tales of the Otori sequence 

89) David Drake (4 million)
David Drake has sold more than 4 million copies of his various SF and fantasy series.

90) Veronica Roth (4 million)
Veronic Roth has sold 4 million copies of the first two volumes of her Divergent series.

91) Tamora Pierce (4 million+)
Tamora Pierce is the author of numerous YA fantasy novels, including the Song of the Lioness series and its numerous sequels. 

92) Aaron Allston (3.3 million+)
Aaron Allston has sold more than 3.3 million copies of his Star Wars novels (including the popular X-Wing series).

93) Robert Harris (3 million+) (SF only)
Robert Harris has sold more than 3 million copies of his classic post-WWII alternate-history novel Fatherland.

94) Alan Dean Foster (3 million+)
Alan Dean Foster is both a prolific solo novelist (such as with the Spellsinger and Commonwealth series) and a writer of movie tie-ins (including the Star Wars and Aliens franchises). This 3 million figure is likely highly conservative, given his novelisation of the first Star Wars movie sold hundreds of thousands of copies even before the film even came out in 1977.

95) Ursula K. Le Guin (3 million+ )
More than three million copies alone of the Earthsea series have been sold, with Le Guin's many other works likely adding a lot to that. 

96) Guy Gavriel Kay (3 million)
Kay has sold more than 3 million copies of his dozen novels. Recent sales seem to be up, presumably driven by the popular success of Under Heaven.

97) Lloyd Alexander (3 million)
Alexander has sold more than 3 million copies of The Chronicles of Prydain by itself.  

98) Dan Abnett (3 million+)
Dan Abnett is one of the most prolific and popular authors in the Warhammer 40,000 science fantasy universe, selling a million copies in that setting by himself as of a few years ago. Strong sales since then, particularly the rising popularity of the setting in the United States, has tripled that amount. He has also worked extensively in comics and recently published his first two original-setting novels.

99) John Ringo (3 million)
Another author I could not find updated figures for since 2008.

100) Joe Abercrombie (3 million)
A new entry on the list, Joe Abercrombie was still an up-and-coming whippersnapper when the previous list was published. His sales are impressive, hitting 3 million of just six books in seven years, which is very steady progress.

101) Margaret Atwood (3 million+)
The Handmaid's Tale has sold 2 million copies and Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood combined another 1 million, putting Atwood's SF work at 3 million sales. Her total sales, including her non-SF, are likely considerably higher.

102) Robert Silverberg (3 million+)
Robert Silververg is one of the grand masters of SF, with dozens of novels and collections published over a very lengthy career. Reported figures of 3 million seem rather low for an author of his popularity and longevity, and may be conservative.

103) Eric Flint (3 million)
Eric Flint is a writer and editor for Baen Books and is best-known for his 1632 series of alternate history novels.

104) Scott Westerfield (3 million+)
Scott Westerfield has sold more than 3 million copies of his Uglies series alone.

105) Robert Asprin (3 million)
Robert Asprin has sold 3 million copies of his Myth series.

106) Rick Hautala (3 million)
The late Rick Hautala was a veteran of the early 1980s horror boom, selling more than a million copies of his third novel, Night Stone, by itself.

107) Brian Lumley (3 million+)
Brian Lumley's Necroscope has sold over 3 million copies by itself. 

108) Neal Stephenson (3 million+)
Neal Stephenson has sold over 3 million copies of his novels, including Snow Crash, The Diamond Age, Anathem, Cryptonomicon and the Baroque Trilogy.

109) Simon R. Green (2.7 million)
Simon R. Green has sold over 2.7 million copies of his Nightside and Deathstalker series, amongst other works. 

110) Kim Stanley Robinson (2.5 million+)
Kim Stanley Robinson has sold over 2.5 million copies of his Mars, Orange County and Science in the Capital series, alongside numerous stand-alone novels including 2312, The Years of Rice and Salt and Antarctica. 

111) Harry Turtledove (2.5 million)
The prolific alternate-history author has written dozens of novels and sold more than 2.5 million copies. I have also not been able to find updated figures since 2008, so he's likely sold more than this by now.

112) S.M. Stirling (2.5 million)
S.M. Stirling has sold more than a two and a half million copies of his Emberverse novels, of which the most famous is Dies the Fire.

113) Michelle Paver (2.5 million+) 
Michelle Paver has sold more than two and a half million copies of her Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series, which began with Wolf Brother. 

114) Max Brooks (2.4 million+)
By 2011, the last year when figures were available, Max Brooks had sold 1 million copies of World War Z and 1.4 million of The Zombie Survival Guide. With the popular movie adaptation (even if it didn't have much in common with the book), these figures are now likely much higher.

115) James Dashner (2.3 million+)
More than 2.3 million copies of the Maze Runner series have been sold. 

116) Susan Cooper (2 million+)
Susan Cooper has sold more than 2 million copies of her The Dark is Rising sequence.

117) Hans Domink (2 million+)
German SF pioneer Hans Dominik had more than 2 million books in print by 1944 alone, so again the true figure is likely higher.

118) Peter F. Hamilton (2 million+)
The above figure is from 2004, so it's likely to be extremely inaccurate. Hamilton may have well sold twice or more this amount. Hamilton remains the UK's biggest-selling SF author, and his US profile has grown significantly in the last decade as well.

119) Brent Weeks (2 million)
Relative newcomer Brent Weeks has sold more than 2 million copies of his debut Night Angel Trilogy. 

120) Andrzej Sapkowski (2 million+)
Andrzej Sapkowski has sold more than two million copies of his books, dominated by sales of the fantasy Witcher series, in Poland alone. His worldwide sales are likely significantly higher.

121) Lois McMaster Bujold (2 million)
Lois McMaster Bujold has sold more than 2 million copies of her SF and fantasy novels, most notably the popular Vorkosigan Saga. 

122) Katherine Kurtz (2 million)
Katherine Kurtz has sold more than 2 million copies of her Deryni saga. 

123) Trudi Canavan (2 million+)
Trudi Canavan sold her one millionth book for Orbit in 2011 and has doubled those sales since then.

124) Stephen Lawhead (2 million+)
Stephen Lawheard is the author of both outright fantasy novels and Guy Gavriel Kay-style alternate/fantastical histories. 

125) Robert Rankin (2 million+)
Robert Rankin has sold 'millions' of copies of his comic fantasy and SF novels.

126) Maggie Stiefvater (2 million+)
Maggie Stiefvater has sold more than 2 million copies of her urban fantasy novels, including the Books of Faerie and Shiver series.

127) Gregory Benford (2 million+)
Gegory Benford has sold 'millions' of copies of Timescape by itself. The rest of his work would extend this total considerably.

128) Greg Bear (2 million+)
Greg Bear has sold 'millions' of his novels, having both high-selling original SF work (such as the Thistledown or Eon trilogy, Blood Music and Moving Mars) and also writing Star Wars and Halo tie-in novels.

129) Jacqueline Carey (2 million+)
Jacequeline Carey has sold 'millions' of copies of her books, including the Kushiel series and the Sundering duology.

130) Piers Anthony (2 million+)
Piers Anthony has sold a million copies of the first Xanth novel by itself, so this total figure maybe a little low. However, 2009 PR info for the series did say it has sold just over 2 million copies by itself. Anthony has also written numerous other books and series, so his true sales are likely higher than this.
131) L.E. Modesitt, Jr. (2 million+)
L.E. Modesitt, Jr. has sold more than a million copies of his Recluce series in paperback alone. This does not include his numerous other books, or the hardcover sales of Recluce, which appear to add another million to the total.

132) David Gemmell (2 million+)
David Gemmell has sold over 1 million copies of his books in the UK alone, with worldwide sales doubling that. Given his prolific career, the late David Gemmell's sales figures may appear to be disappointing. This may be down to Gemmell's lack of profile in the United States.

133) Justin Cronin (2 million+)
Justin Cronin has sold 'millions' of copies of his post-apocalyptic novels The Passage and The Twelve. 

134) Kevin Crossley-Holland (2 million+)
Kevin Crossley-Holland has sold over 2 million copies of his popular Arthur Trilogy for younger readers.

135) Melanie Rawn (1.8 million+)
Melanie Rawn had sold 1.8 million books by 1998 alone. Her later sales may be considerably higher, although her popularity and profile seem to have dimmed in recent years (her Spellbinder series was recently abandoned due to poor sales).

136) Jennifer Roberson (1.7 million)
Jennifer Roberson has sold 1.7 million copies of her books published by DAW.

137) Elizabeth Moon (1.5 million+)
Elizabeth Moon has sold 100,000 copies in the Baen Books omnibus version of the Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy alone. The Paksenarrion series as a whole has sold more than 1 million copies across all formats worldwide, and her total sales in the US alone are 1.5 million.

138) Deborah Harkness (1.5 million+)
Deborah Harkness has sold 1.5 million copies of A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night combined.

139) Susanna Clarke (1.5 million+)
Susanna Clarke sold more than a million copies of her novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell in its first year on sale alone, with an additional half million sales following in the UK alone. Total sales figures by now, almost a decade on, must be considerably higher.

140) Markus Heitz (1.5 million+)
Markus Heitz has sold more than a million and a half copies of his popular Dwarves series, which has been a bestseller in Germany and done well in English translation.

141) Libba Bray (1.5 million+)
Libba Bray is the author of the YA Gemma Doyle trilogy. 

142) Seth Grahame-Smith (1.4 million)
Seth Graheme-Smith has sold one and a half million copies of his horror novels with a tinge of comedy, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

143) Dan Simmons (1.25 million+)
Dan Simmons has sold more than a million copies of his novel Hyperion by itself. Combined with its three sequels and his many other bestselling novels, his total sales figures will likely be several times this amount. The Terror has also sold more than a quarter-million copies worldwide.

144) Stan Nicholls (1.25 million+)
Stan Nicholls had sold 1.25 million copies of his Orcs series worldwide by 2010.

145) Naomi Novik (1.2 million+)
Naomi Novik has sold 1 million paper copies of her Temeraire series and almost 200,000 ebooks.

146) Jack Campbell (1.2 million+)
Jack Campbell has sold 1.2 million copies of his Lost Fleet series of SF novels.

147) Tanya Huff (1.2 million+)
Tanya Huff is the author of numerous novels, including the Blood Books series which the TV series Blood Ties was based on. 

148) Iain M. Banks (1.1 million)+
The late Iain M. Banks sold 1.1 million copies of his science fiction work in the UK before his tragic passing. Banks's SF accounted only for a small fraction of his sales; when combined with his mainstream fiction and non-UK SF sales, he likely sold at least four or five times this amount. His controversial non-SF debut The Wasp Factory has sold over a million copies in the UK by itself, or almost as much as all his SF combined.

149) Kelley Armstrong (1 million+)
A prolific urban/dark fantasy author, Armstrong had sold more than 1 million copies of her books by 2011.

150) Samuel R. Delany (1 million+)
SF legend Samuel R. Delany has sold more than a million copies of Dhalgren by itself. His total sales will be notably higher than this.

151) Ed Greenwood (1 million+)
Ed Greenwood is the creator of the Forgotten Realms fantasy world, the biggest-selling and most popular shared fantasy world ever created. He has sold 1 million copies of his debut novel, Spellfire, alone. Sales of his many later novels would amount to a great deal more than this. 

152) Paul S. Kemp (1 million+)
Paul Kemp has sold more than a million copies worldwide of his Forgotten Realms novels featuring Erevis Cale, servant of the god Mask, and also his own original fantasy series.

153) Connie Willis (1 million)
Best known for her time travel novels such as Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog, Willis has sold just under 1 million copies of her books.

154) Sara Douglass (1 million+)
The late Sara Douglass has sold more than a million copies of her Axis and Wayfarer Redemption series (not to mention several sequel series) in Australia alone. Her worldwide total will be far higher.

155) Robin Hobb (1 million+)
Another outdated figure, stemming from 2003 and applying solely to the first nine books written as Robin Hobb. Counting the seven novels published since and her successful work as Megan Lindholm, the true figure is likely to be much higher than this.

156) Steven Erikson (1 million+)
Erikson's publishers announced that his books had sold 1 million copies worldwide with the publication of The Crippled God. With another book published since then and sales of the older books growing, it's likely rather more than this.

157) Alastair Reynolds (1 million+)
Alastair Reynolds has sold more than 1 million SF novels worldwide, hence his impressive £1 million, ten-book deal from a couple of years ago.

158) Jasper Fforde (1 million+)
Jasper Fforde is the author of the Thursday Next series. 

159) Ian Irvine (1 million+)
Ian Irvine has sold more than a million copies of his novels set on Santhenar. 

160) Richard A. Knaak (1 million+)
Richard A. Knaak is a noted tie-in author, writing books set in the Conan, WarCraft and Dragonlance universes.

161) Katherine Kerr (1 million+)
Katherine Kerr is the author of numerous SF and fantasy novels and is most famous for her Deverry series. 

162) Dave Duncan (1 million+)
Dave Duncan had sold a million books by 1999.

163) A.C. Crispin (1 million+)
The late A.C. Crispin was noted for her tie-in works. One of these, the novelisation of the 1984 mini-series V, has sold more than a million copies by itself. 

164) Hugh Howey (1 million+)
Howey has sold more than a million copies of his Wool series of post-apocalyptic books.

165) Joe Haldeman (1 million+)
Joe Haldeman has sold more than a million copies of The Forever War by itself. 

166) Glen Cook (1 million+)
Glen Cook has sold more than a million copies of his novels, the best-known of which is the Black Company series. 

167) David Brin (1 million+)
David Brin has sold more than a million copies of his Uplift Saga alone. With his many other bestsellers, his total figure will be much higher. 

168) Henry N. Beard (1 million+)
Henry N. Beard's 1969 satirical novel, Bored of the Rings, written with Douglas C. Kenney, is itself a long-running, steady seller.

169) Douglas C. Kenney (1 million+)
Douglas C. Kenney is the co-author of Bored of the Rings with Henry N. Beard.

170) Alexey Pehov (1 million+)
Alexey Pehov has sold more than a million copies of his Chronicles of Siala (which starts with Shadow Prowler) series. 

171) John Gregory Betancourt (1 million+)
John Gregory Betancourt has sold over a million books, including both his own works and Star Trek tie-ins.

172) Jo Clayton (1 million+)
Jo Clayton was the author of the Wild Magic and Drum series.

173) Christie Golden (1 million+)
Christie Golden has written her own novels, but is better-known as a prolific tie-in author. She has written novels in the Ravenloft, Star Trek, StarCraft and WarCraft settings, amongst others.

174) Drew Karpyshyn (1 million+)
Drew Karpyshyn has sold more than a million copies of his novels, most of which are tie-ins with the Star Wars universe and other franchises. However, Karpyshyn is also a noteworthy writer of video games, contributing to the Baldur's Gate series, Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic and Jade Empire. His biggest claim to fame is being the co-creator of the Mass Effect fictional universe, penning several novels and comics set there and establishing the overall storyline for the three computer games. He worked heavily on the first two games in the series and then on the online roleplaying game Star Wars: The Old Republic (the work of the writers on Mass Effect 3, who deivated from the direction Karpyshyn had established from the series, has been criticised). More than 10 million copies of video games that Karpyshyn has worked on have been sold.

175) David Mitchell (1 million+)
David Mitchell has sold over a million copies of his novel Cloud Atlas. 

176) Ransom Riggs (1 million+)
Ransom Riggs has sold over a million copies of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Expect more sales if the planned Tim Burton movie comes out.

177) Elizabeth Haydon (1 million+)
Elizabeth Haydon has sold over a million copies of her Symphony of the Ages series.

178) Peter V. Brett (925,000)
Peter Brett is closing down on a million sales of the first three books in his Demon Cycle. 

179) Chris Wooding (750,000+)
Chris Wooding has been making a name for himself as an adult fantasy author with his Braided Path and Tales of the Ketty Jay series, but his initial success has come from his highly popular YA books, which have sold very well in the United States. This figure is from the UK and USA alone, so total sales may be higher.

180) William King (750,000+)
William King has sold three-quarters of a million novels for the Black Library. 

181) Erin Morgenstern (650,000+)
Erin Morgenstern has sold 650,000 copies of her novel, The Night Circus. 

182) Scott Lynch (500,000+) 
Scott Lynch has sold half a million copies of The Lies of Locke Lamora alone.

183) Janny Wurts (500,000+)
Janny Wurts has sold more than half a million copies of her Wars of Light and Shadow series worldwide. Her other solo novels and in particular her popular collaborations with Raymond E. Feist have likely raised the total figure to a considerably higher level. 

184) Kevin Hearne (500,000+)
Hearne is the author of the Iron Druids Chronicles fantasy series. 

185) Alison Croggon (500,000+)
Alison Croggon has sold more than half a million copies of her Books of Pellinor fantasy series.

186) Michael Gerber (500,000+)
Michael Gerber has sold half a million copies of his Barry Trotter parody novels.

187) Hugh Cook (450,000+)
Hugh Cook has sold over 450,000 copies of his offbeat ten-volume Chronicles of an Age of Darkness series. 

188) Gail Carriger (400,000)
Carriger is the author of The Parasol Protectorate series.

189) Gail Z. Martin (400,000+)
Gail Z. Martin is the author of the Chronicles of the Necromancer and Fallen Kings series.

190) Lawrence Watt-Evans (400,000+)
Lawrence Watt-Evans (who also writes as Nathan Archer) has sold over 400,000 copies of his Ethshar SF series.

191) Ben Aaronovitch (400,000+)
Ben Aaronovitch has sold almost half a million copies of his Rivers of London series. 

192) Lynn Flewelling (350,000)
Lynn Flewelling has sold 350,000 copies of her six-volume Nightrunner series.

193) Kate Elliott (300,000+)
An old and certainly incorrect figure, Kate Elliott is listed as having sold 300,000 copies of her Crown of Stars series. With her many other series, she has certainly sold far more than this.

194) Ernest Cline (300,000+)
Ernest Cline has sold over 300,000 copies of his novel Ready Player One by itself.

195) Mark Smith (300,000+)
Mark Smith is part of a husband-and-wife writing team, better known for publishing under the pseudoynms Jonathan Wylie (the Ice Mage books) and Julia Gray (the Guardian Cycle).

196) Julia Smith (300,000+) 
Julia Smith is part of a husband-and-wife writing team, better known for publishing under the pseudoynms Jonathan Wylie (the Ice Mage books) and Julia Gray (the Guardian Cycle).

197) J.V. Jones (250,000+)
One of the oldest figures on the list, Jones had sold 250,000 copies of The Book of Words trilogy and The Barbed Coil by 1999. Her sales since then must have pushed this total considerably higher.

198) Mark Lawrence (250,000+)
Mark Lawrence has been a big success story, shifting a quarter-million copies of his Thorns trilogy in just two years.

199) Michael J. Sullivan (250,000+)
Michael J. Sullivan took the step of self-publishing his Riyria Revelations fantasy series before it was snapped up by a traditional publisher. This fanbase has propelled him to healthy sales for another (relative) newcomer. 

200) Karen Miller (250,000+)
Karen Miller (also writing as K.E. Miller) is the author of the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series of fantasy novels.

201) Sharon Lee (250,000+)
Sharon Lee is the co-author of the Liaden Universe series.

202) Steve Miller (250,000+)
Steve Miller is the co-author of the Liaden Universe series.

203) Karen Russell (210,000+)
Karen Russell has sold over 180,000 copies of Swamplandia! in paperback and 30,000 in hardcover.

204) James Barclay (200,000+)
James Barclay has sold more than 200,000 copies of his Raven and Ascendants of Estorea series in the UK alone. 

205) R. Scott Bakker (200,000+)
According to Overlook Books' PR copy for The White Luck Warrior, Bakker's four previous fantasy novels have sold over 125,000 copies for them. For a small American publishing house, that's not actually too bad. This figure also does not include Bakker's Canadian sales from Penguin or British/Commonwealth sales from Orbit (and Orbit report that they are very happy with Bakker's performance for them), or American sales from fans opting for one of the other editions. On this basis, the 125,000 figure should be taken as being at the lower end of sales. Bakker has also said his books have sold 'hundreds of thousands' of copies in total.

206) Paolo Bacigalupi (200,000+)
The Windup Girl has sold more than 200,000 copies to date.

207) Jaye Wells (200,000+)
Jaye Wells is the author of the Sabina Kane series. 

208) David Dalglish (175,000+)
The Shadowdance series has sold 175,000 copies to date.

209) Daniel H. Wilson (160,000+)
Daniel H. Wilson has sold over 160,000 copies of his novel Robopocalypse by itself.

210) Adam Roberts (150,000+)
Adam Roberts has sold more than 150,000 copies of his Tolkien pastiche The Soddit by itself. Combined with his many other books, his total figure is likely much higher.

211) Glen Duncan (150,000+)
Glen Duncan has sold more than 150,000 copies of his novel The Last Werewolf by itself.

212) Glenda Larke (120,000+)
Glenda Larke has sold more than 120,000 copies of her Stormlords Trilogy alone, not counting her other books. 

213) James Lovegrove (100,000+)
James Lovegrove has sold more than 100,000 copies of his Pantheon series by itself.

214) Tom Lloyd (70,000)
The Twilight Reign series had sold 70,000 copies by 2011.

215) Russell Kirkpatrick (70,000+)
Russell Kirkpatrick had sold 70,000 copies of the Orbit editions of his map-heavy Fires of Heaven trilogy by 2008. 

216) Hannu Rajaniemi (40,000+)
Hanni Rajaniemi has sold over 40,000 copies of his SF novels The Quantum Thief and The Fractal Prince. 

Figures Not Available

Patrick Rothfuss: his first two books were instant bestsellers and have sold huge numbers. His sales are likely around the million mark, if not more.

J.G. Ballard, Philip K. Dick etc: 'classic' authors of yesteryear have few reliable sales figures available for them. In some cases lots of reprints and complex foreign sales deals means that this information is simply not available or reliable when it is so.

China Mieville: sales figures for this author also seem to be unavailable, despite his profile and clear success. The same for Clive Barker, despite his lengthy career.

Books Not Counted

The sixteen-volume Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins was written as a religious thriller rather than a work of SF or Fantasy, though arguably it falls into the category of a fantasy. It has sold 65 million copies.

Michael Crichton has sold approximately 200 million copies of his novels. However, his books are a mixture of SF, sort-of-SF, political and/or crime thrillers and historical novels. Separating his sales out per-book is impossible. Similarly, Dean Koontz has dabbled in several different genres and identifying sales of his supernatural and fantastical work alone has not proven possible. However, I have added them to the list for those who want to include them.

Many thanks to the numerous contributors to this list from websites and forums such as and SFFWorld. I am particularly indebted to Jussi from and Risingshadow whose research has been invaluable in expanding the list from its original state.


Darkstar said...

Interesting! Thank you!
I am a little bit surprised that Marion Zimmer Bradley is not on the list.

Did she really get that less money compared to the other authors on the list or did you not have any data from her available?

Max Edwards said...

Paolini is on 40m now - source:

via Pornokitsch -

Bob/Sally said...

Wow. A little surprised to see Rowling outselling King, but even more surprised by how quickly the gap widens after Tolkien.

Nice to see Weis & Hickman make the list, since their Dragonlance books were my introduction to fantasy.

Maybe I'm stretching the definition of SFF, but no Clive Barker, Michael Crichton, or Dean Koontz? I'd have to imagine they rank up there in the top 50 or so.

Brian H said...

Mostly interesting for just how vague it is, there's an article there on its own :)

Talking of authors not listed my first thought was of Iain Banks and whether his still often fantastic but supposedly non genre work would count?

Counting them I'd guess his total UK sales alone would be over a million, from just their prominence on super market book shelves.

Clayton Boucher said...

Surprised not to see L.E. Modesitt Jr on the list. Although finding numbers may be hard (The only reference I could find was that he sold "millions in the us" here:

Anonymous said...

Jim Butcher is who I was surprised not to see. I believe many of the Dresden books have sold 100k+ and there are a bunch of them, plus the Codex Alera sold very well.

Unknown said...

Wow, even considering the conservative figures, am surprised Bakker's sales are so low. His series is one of my all time favorite series.

Mark Lawrence said...

I know that Michael Sullivan and I have both sold over 250,000 books.

Adam Whitehead said...

Cheers for the new info, list updated.

Michael Crichton is difficult to count. He has written overtly SF novels, sort-of SF novels, historical novels, political thrillers and ordinary thrillers and crime novels. Separating them out is next to impossible. For the record, his total sales are 200 million. Koontz, likewise, works in several different genres and extracting sales figures for his supernatural and fantastical works alone is impossible.

I also left out the LEFT BEHIND series, which was written as a religious thriller rather than as an overt work of SF or fantasy.

Barker absolutely counts, as he did last time, but on neither occasion have I found decent sales figures for him.

Banks has never released official sales figures, and if they did it's questionable if you could separate out his SF and non-SF work. Banks himself always said that his SF work was outsold massively by his mainstream books.

There was a conversation about Modesitt on Twitter and there seems to be no hard sales figures available for him.

Again, no hard figures for Butcher seem to be available, though I would guess they would be quite substantial.

TerokNor said...

On my copy of Heinlein's "The Menace from Earth" (late 70s or early 80s) it states: "Over 11 1/2 Robert A. Heinlein books in print". And on my copies of Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea trilogy(mid-80s), it states "over three million copies in print" (presumably referring to the trilogy, not the individual books). Both "in print", not "sold", but maybe a good starting point?

Also, how about Sergei Lukyanenko? The UK paperback of his "Night Watch" states the Watch trilogy has sold more than two million hardcovers in Russia alone. Add further Watch series sequels and his other series and stand-alone works plus translations (German SF/F sections in bookstores are full of Lukyanenko) and it should amount to quite a bit.

Adam Whitehead said...

11 and a half million, I'm assuming?

That's good info, cheers.

TerokNor said...

Yes, of course, 11.5 million for Heinlein.

John said...

If you read the sword of Shannara and take many of it's plot features it has disturbing amounts of similarities with a few too many aspects of LOTR - so there is a good case for saying Tolkien's figures should be a lot higher

TerokNor said...

Apparently Baen claims sales of at least two million of Lois McMaster Bujold's books according to a 2010 interview with her at Clarkesworld.

JohnB said...

What about Piers Anthony Wert, pretty sure he will have sold over a million books over the years. On his Amazon page it syas he has been in the NY Times bestselling list 21 times.

JohnB said...

David Eddings?

bozo said...

Michael Ende's Neverending Story is a standalone novel - there are no sequels. (There are several movies, but only the first one is based on the novel.) Ende's other books, especially "Momo" and "Jim Button", are considered classics and remain very popular in German-speaking countries.

bozo said...

According to his German publisher's website, Michael Ende's books have sold over 35 million times now.

JamesK said...

Where is Ray Bradbury?
His books are still on school reading lists. I'm sure he must have sold in the millions.

Anonymous said...

Wert, any figures available for Daniel Abraham/James SA Corey?


JamesK said...

From the NY Times.

"In Mr. Bradbury’s lifetime more than eight million copies of his books were sold in 36 languages."

Michael J. Sullivan said...

Thanks for including me on the list. My goal is to hit 1,000,000 at some point I'm almost 1/3 of the way there in English sales. Nearly impossible to get accurate timely numbers on the translated copies, but my guess is it's significantly less than the English.

Michael J. Sullivan said...

Regarding Butcher: My guess is he's above 10 million. If I lookup just bookscan (bookscan only accounts for 65% - 75% of print sales) he's over 4.5 Million. Ebooks on many speculative fiction writers is 50% (mine is 58% Sanderson has reported 66%).

Wastrel said...

Just to jump on the bandwagon of suggestions...

How about Delaney? I know he's normally thought of a a fairly recondite writer, but Dhalgren was actually a major commercial success. The figure of slightly over a million copies float around the internet, though wikipedia specifies that this is just for the original Bantam editions (19 printings), so that doesn't count the hardback and the subsequent three editions - the latest of which has gone through seven printings itself.

Over on Fred Pohl's blog, at, he talks about publishing Dhalgren - he doesn't give numbers, other than calling it a 'runaway success', but in the comments Delaney himself discusses his Neveryon books - he says the first three each had two or three printings, and specifies that the third sold 100k in two printings (85k in the first and then a second printing of 15k (though I guess some of the second printing may not have been sold), and then goes on to say that the fourth book did just as well as the first three.

'Nova' was also pretty succesful, eventually going through fourteen printings at Bantam, selling to them for 'a record advance' after the doubleday publication.

Anyway, between everything (and he's written a bunch of other stuff too), I'd say he's certainly sold over a million and probably sold over two.

Also, he seems the sort of person who'd have the numbers and be willing to share them if you asked...?

TerokNor said...

More: German SF pioneer Hans Dominik had two million copies of his SF books in print by 1944: has detailed statistics; the SF Encyclopedia says "several million".

TerokNor said...

Another German: Frank Schätzing has only written two SF novels ("Der Schwarm" and "Limit"), but those two have sold more than 4 million copies. A figure of 3.8 million German copies is quoted everywhere for Der Schwarm; 4 million is quoted on his publisher's site for worldwide. Limit had a first print run of 400,000.

noomninam said...

William Gibson? Neal Stephenson? Kurt Vonnegut? Also curious, going back in time, how Mervyn Peake or H.G. Wells would stack up. Thanks for your work on the list.

Anonymous said...

Feels weird that Erikson isn’t higher. When it comes to world building, interesting races, great battles and memorable characters, he is number one in my book. Hopefully he will become more popular in time

Veronika said...

I miss Stephen Baxter on this list!

Wastrel said...

I fear I've lead you astray: Samuel Delany has no 'e', though I always forget to omit it.

Regarding McCaffrey, a little context might help. Those 500,000 in collaborations come from five late Pern books, so 100k each. There are 17 Anne-only Pern books. And I count 51 other SFF books, and 10 romance or children's books. That's not counting non-fiction. So let's assume at a minimum that the famous, bestselling Pern books sold as much, when Pern was big (and over the three decades since), as her final collaborations with her son did. That's 1.7 million copies; now let's assume half that for each of the other SFF books. That's about 2.5 million. Add in the Todd books and top up, and that's around 5 million all told. And even that's incredibly conservative - not just because some of those Pern novels clearly sold a lot more, but also because quite a few of even her less famous novels were top-10 bestsellers back in the eighties.

Anonymous said...

Where's Tad Williams? According to he's sold 17 million books.

Wastrel said...

OK, now this has gone from 'thanks for putting that all together in one place for us' to 'seriously great work!'.

Good to see proper figures for McCaffrey - that was one of the most egregious issues before. Interesting to see Christie Golden do so well as well (ah, Vampire of the Mists...)

Fantastic to see the figure for Burroughs, too - I'd have thought him too long ago to have proper figures for.

One author, slightly less old, who ought to be here, is TH White. I don't know how many copies "The Once and Future King" has sold (or just "The Sword in the Stone"), but it must surely be in the millions.

Going back a bit further, two obvious names suggest themselves also. H Rider Haggard's 'lost world' books aren't normally thought of as fantasy, but many of them are. The eponymous "She", for instance, is immortal, can read minds, can heal wounds with magic, and can possibly resurrect the dead. "She" had already sold 83 million copies by 1965.
And then there's Kipling. Fair enough not to include the Just-So Stories, I suppose, as they're more just children's fables, but I think that the Jungle Book should probably count as fantasy. No idea how many copies sold, other than "a lot".

Of the authors on your list, I think the most obvious soft number remaining is Asimov, which really must be far, far bigger than that.

Jack Tripper said...

Hey wert, I found a little bit of info on Neal Stephenson's sales. From Wikipedia: "Based on the success of Cryptonomicon, a New York Times bestseller with sales of about 300,000 copies, the initial print-run for Quicksilver was 250,000 copies."

Can't find any info on his other novels, alas.

Jack Tripper said...

Ah, you have Stephenson's numbers up there already. My bad. I seem to recall you saying somewhere that you couldn't find any info on his sales figures.

Great work btw, Wert.

Gwaendar said...

Speaking of German authors, Wolfgang Hohlbein is said to have sold over 43 million of his 200+ books despite having almost none of his works translated in English (see for the claimed sales figure).

I also suspect that some of the more regular early authors of sci-fi pulp series Perry Rhodan would have to figure on this list.

Mark Lawrence said...

My ARC of Fool's Assassin says that Assassin's apprentice has sold over 1 million copies in the UK.

So that's more than a million for Hobb for one book in one country...

But by your (reasonable) rules that still means you should have her on 1+ million!

Anonymous said...


Maybe I missed him on the list, but if not, he should definitely be on here. Guy's a millionaire many times over.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic resource! Kudos to the writer.

Fantasy, Sci-fi and Horror fans are some of the smartest, most devoted and organized guys and girls out there.

I only wish fans of the crime and romance genres could organize such author lists too.

Great job!

Ross Chamberlain said...

I was delighted to see "Jean M. Auel has sold over 45 million copies of her Earth's Children sequence. Though written as speculative history, some have categorised the books as alternate history and thus borderline SF."
... but speculative/fantasy elements of the series are much stronger than suggested here, specifically the mental structure of the Neanderthals (never so called) which gives them detailed racial memory, and the effects of a kind of psychoactive drug that allows 'accurate' prophetic visions, possibly behind the racial memory but also used among the Cro Magnon (also not used) shamans. In other words, I would argue that this places Auel's series squarely in the genre (with her heroine, Ayla, approaching superhero status).

Ross Chamberlain said...

I'm surprised at how many names on the list were apparently missed y commentators here.

Unknown said...

A few more folks I don't see mention - hope I'm not just missing them :

Spider Robinson - somewhere in the "few-several hundred thousand" range in total, guess-trapolating from comments in

Ben Bova - ?

And at least to mention on the "lack of data" section

E.E."Doc" Smith
Jules Verne
George MacDonald

Cheers, and once again thanks for the time & effort which has gone into this list !
Peter Stewart

Anonymous said...

I'm not going to lie. I could use some links for SEO purposes. On the bright side, you'll be saving countless souls from months if not years of torment and poverty.

Anonymous said...

Butcher was on there.