Saturday 13 January 2024

The SFF All-Time Sales List (2024 Edition)

After a lengthy break (six years since the last version), the (non-) patented, utterly non-definitive Wertzone Official SFF All-Time Bestseller List returns.

There have been some changes this time. The last list was getting on for 300 entries strong, and unreliable and variable reporting meant the lower half of the list had more holes in it than Swiss cheese after being visited by lactose-loving moths, due to patchy reporting. I have limited the numbered list to authors with more than 1 million copies sold for the sake of sanity. I have left in the remainder of the list from last time, but take those positions and sales figures with a pinch of salt the size of Greenland.

The usual string of caveats: reporting of sales for authors is bizarrely spotty, with some authors happy to broadcast their sales, some guarding their figures with incredible tenacity and others happily admitting they don’t have a clue what they are, reliant on intermittent reporting by various publishers across the world. There is also frequent confusion over “books sold,” “books in print” (i.e. the number of books that are currently sitting unsold on shelves or in warehouses across the world) or “sales-per-book,” which can sometimes lead to conflicting information. There is also tremendous lag, with reports sometimes being many years behind sales themselves. Some of the sales figure sources are brand-new, some are a few years old and some are twenty years old with absolutely no interest from the publishers in updating them. The sources for the list are therefore all over the place (but noted where possible).

Still, some interesting trends can be discerned: the rise of "Romantasy" is quite notable, with a massive explosion of sales for Sarah J. Maas, whose sales growth is eclipsing almost everyone else in the field (she's catching Brandon Sanderson up like a freight train), and newcomer Rebecca Yarros selling around 2.4 million copies in a year, which is the type of explosive debut we haven't seen this side of Patrick Rothfuss. YA and younger category sales also remain a huge deal, with the enormous sales growth of the Percy Jackson series being particularly eye-popping. Traditional epic fantasy still does quite well but at a much lower level, with solid growth for the likes of Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence, Michael J. Sullivan and James Islington. Brandon Sanderson remains a strong outlier, and Robert Jordan is doing pretty well for someone who passed away seventeen years ago, with The Wheel of Time recently joining the 100 million+ club.

Should you take this list as Gospel? Nope! But it is, hopefully, a reasonable indication as to what's going on out there.

1) JK Rowling (600 million)

Rowling completed her ludicrously successful Harry Potter series seventeen years ago, and various attempts to follow up on that have not garnered anywhere near as much success. Legacy sales for the series remain strong but seem to be dropping; her reported sales in 2023 are not dramatically higher than in 2018, and her once-thought-unreachable position does seem to be in reach of several other authors. Still, sitting on her throne of dollar bills, she probably does not care very much. <source>

[Eiichiro Oda (500 million)]

I’m generally not including manga in this list because that’s a whole other medium, but will note some of interest. Eiichiro Oda is the biggest-selling manga author in Japanese history, with his well-known One Piece pirate fantasy series surpassing 523 million copies sold as of last year. With the enormous success of the Netflix live-action adaptation, a second season on the way, dramatically increased viewership of the existing 1,000+ episode anime and a new, revamped anime for overseas audiences on its way, expect this figure to just keep shooting up and up. <source>

2) R.L. Stine (400 million)

Stine is best-known for his 62-volume Goosebumps series of novels aimed at younger readers, as well as assorte spin-offs. His other works include the Fear Street, Rotten School, Mostly Ghostly and Nightmare Room series. <source>

3) Stephen King (350 – 400 million)

Stephen King had sold 350 million novels by 2006 and he remains a perennial bestseller, with numerous books published since then and two massive film adaptations of his novel IT, so I think it’s comfortable to say he is in the 400 million range, although The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1996) makes a good argument that his sales/copies read are incalculable given his myriad overseas rights and pirate copies. King’s Dark Tower series, his most vital contribution to “regular” fantasy alongside Eyes of the Dragon, has sold over 30 million copies by itself. <source>

4) J.RR. Tolkien (350 million +)

Likewise, J.R.R. Tolkien’s sales are incalculable due to vast numbers of pirate copies of his books and unauthorised overseas translations and sales (madly, the first American paperback edition of Lord of the Rings as an unauthorised edition exploiting a copyright loophole). Conservative figures from around 1995 suggested 150 million for Lord of the Rings, but some research suggest that figure was drawn from sales of Fellowship of the Ring alone (!) and Tolkien’s true sales total, including 100 million copies of The Hobbit and millions more for The Silmarillion and various spin-off books, probably stands at well over 350 million. The Lord of the Rings also sold around 50 million extra copies in the five years after The Fellowship of the Ring was released in cinemas in 2001. Even this figure may be highly conservative. <source>


[Jin Yong (300 million+)]

The late Jin Yong has sold over 300 million copies of his wuxia novels, which cross the boundary between fantasy and historical fiction. He is best known for his Legend of the Condor Heroes series. <source>


5) Stephenie Meyer (250 million+)

The Twilight series has sold over a quarter-billion copies. Sparkly! However, there have been no updated figures for the series since 2015, so even given a drop-off in sales (the books and films are no longer dominating the cultural discourse as they were a decade ago), this figure will likely be somewhat higher. <source>


[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. <source>


[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). He also created the Westworld franchise. His placement here is for comparative purposes and for those who consider him to be a genre author. <source>

6) Rick Riordan (190 million+)

Rick Riordan is the author of the Percy Jackson series, which has so far spawned two successful movie adaptations, a Disney+ TV series and driven renewed sales of the books. Riordan is easily the biggest jumpers on the list, with almost 100 million newly-reported sales since 2018 and a probable increase in sales imminent due to the TV adaptation of the books. <source>


[Star Wars (160 million)]

Del Rey and Bantam sold over 160 million Star Wars novels, mostly from the "Expanded Universe," between 1991 and 2012. This figure does not include those books published by Lucasfilm directly and Disney. <source>


7) Anne Rice (136 million)
Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles series was a huge phenomenon through the 1980s and 1990s, bolstered by the Tom Cruise/Brad Pitt movie, and additional adaptations. <source>

8) CS Lewis (120 million+)
Lewis is best-known for his seven-volume Chronicles of Narnia series, which has had multiple film, audio, stage and television adaptations (with a new film and TV series incoming from Netflix). His other works include The Space Trilogy. <source>


9) Sir Terry Pratchett (100 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. Despite his passing in 2015 and only mixed success for various adaptations, Pratchett’s profile and sales seem to be accelerating as younger generations of readers discover his accessible, prolific, thought-provoking and funny fiction. <source>


10) 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. <source>

11) 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 catapulted him into becoming a household name in both the United States and United Kingdom. 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. <source>


12) Suzanne Collins (100 million+)

Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games hadn't even been published when I created the very first list. The trilogy has been published in full, sold over 100 million copies (over 65 million in the USA alone) and generated four hit movies since then. Very impressive. Additional books have followed. <source>


13) Robert Jordan (100 million+)

Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time epic fantasy series rapidly became the biggest post-Tolkien epic fantasy series after its launch in 1990, with enormous sales driving Tor Books to become the biggest name in science fiction and fantasy publishing. Books 8 through 14 were each a New York Times #1 bestseller, an unheard-of feat for epic fantasy. After Robert Jordan passed away in 2007, the series was completed by Brandon Sanderson in 2013. Sales of the series have continued to grow since then, but got a sharp boost from the launch of Amazon’s Wheel of Time television series in 2021, with more than 5 million additional sales in five years. <source>


14) 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. <source>

15) George R.R. Martin (91 million+)

A Song of Ice and Fire’s sales growth was initially modest: from 1996 to 2005 the series sold around 5 million copies. Thanks to Internet word of mouth, sales accelerated to reach around 12 million by the time A Dance with Dragons launched in 2011. Propelled by the explosive success of the HBO adaptation, Game of Thrones, the series reached over 90 million sales by 2016. Further sales figures have not been given since then, but have been presumed not to have surpassed 100 million just yet (but, with the success of House of the Dragon, is likely very close).

Martin has also sold over 1 million copies of the first trilogy in his Wild Cards superhero anthology series, and over a million copies of companion volume The World of Ice and Fire by itself.<source>

[H. Rider Haggard (85 million+)]

H. Rider Haggard is an influential writer of the late 19th Century, most famous for King Solomon's Mines. His novel She: A Novel of Adventure features significant supernatural influences (such as the main villain being immortal and killed by a supernatural force), but most of his work can be classified as adventure fiction rather than SFF. <source>

16) Sherrilyn Kenyon (80 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 80 million books in print in over 100 countries. She is best-known for her Dark-Hunter series. <source>

[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. <source>

17) James Herbert (54 million+)
The late James Herbert has sold more than 54 million copies of his horror novels, most of which had an SF or supernatural twist. His best-known work is The Rats (1974). <source>

18) Terry Brooks (51.7 million+)

Terry Brooks has sold over 30 million copies in the USA alone with his international sales boosting this massively. He has also sold some 1.7 million copies in German. He remains best-known for his Shannara fantasy series, with its first volume, The Sword of Shannara, credited with beginning the post-Tolkien epic fantasy boom in 1977. He has also written the Magic Kingdom of Landover sequence. <source>

19) Richard Adams (50 million+)

Watership Down has sold more than 50 million copies by itself, though its fantasy status is debatable. 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 adult fantasy novels set in the Beklan Empire, Shardik and Maia, not to mention further works related to Watership Down. <source>

[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. <source>

20) Robert Heinlein (50 million)
One of the grand masters of old-school SF and one of the "Big Three" of late 20th Century SF alongside Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov, Heinlein had sold 11.5 million books by the early 1980s and about 50 million in total to date.  <source>


21) Cassandra Clare (50 million)

Cassandra Clare is the author of The Shadowhunter Chronicles, made up of the Mortal Instruments, Infernal Devices and the Dark Artifices sub-series. <source>


22) Diana Gabaldon (50 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. The immense success of the Outlander TV series has significantly boosted sales of the series. <source>


[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. <source>

23) Stanislaw Lem (45 million+)
The Polish author of Solaris and numerous other SFF novels has sold more than 45 million copies of his work worldwide. <source>

24) Neil Gaiman (45 million+ )

Neil Gaiman has sold 30 million copies of the Sandman series of graphic novels alone (before the sales boom caused by the Netflix TV show) and over 15 million novels. Coraline (arguably Gaiman's least-well-known novel) has sold 1 million copies by itself, as has The Graveyard Book, whilst American Gods has sold over 5 million copies. This is a very conservative figure. <source> <source>

25) Wolfgang & Heike Hohlbein (43 million+)

Husband-and-wife team Wolfgang and Heike Hohlbein are the biggest-selling German authors of science fiction and fantasy, best known for their Magic Moon series. <source>

26) Veronica Roth (42 million+)
Veronica Roth's sales exploded from 22 million to 42 million between 2014 and 2018, no doubt due to the success of the movies based on her Divergent series of YA SF novels. The financial failure of the last Divergent movie does not seem to have impacted the impressive book sales. This figure will likely rise further as Roth transitions into writing more adult fiction. <source>

27) George Orwell (41 million+)

Orwell's prophetic SF allegory Nineteen Eighty-Four has sold more than 30 million copies by itself, with Animal Farm estimated to have sold at least 11 million copies (likely a huge underestimate). <source>


[Morgan Llywelyn (40 million)]
Morgan Llywelyn is a best-selling Irish-American 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. <source>


28) Christopher Paolini (40 million)

Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle has proven very popular, despite the relative failure of the Eragon movie. Additional novels and a recent return to the setting have ensured steady sales. <source>

29) Brandon Sanderson (40 million)

One of the biggest names in modern fantasy, with a hugely prolific output dominated by The Cosmere, an interconnected universe including the Mistborn and Stormlight Archive series, amongst many others. He is also the architect of the most successful Kickstarter campaign of all time, which generated $40 million to create limited and luxury editions of four “surprise” novels he wrote during the COVID pandemic. Sanderson also finished the Wheel of Time series with three books in 2009-13, following Robert Jordan’s passing. A minimum of 12.5 million of Sanderson’s figure comes from his three Wheel of Time books, whilst The Way of Kings has now sold over 1 million copies by itself. <source>

30) Margit Sandemo (39 million)

Norwegian-Swedish writer Margit Sandemo is the author of The Legend of the Ice People, a historical series with fantastical elements. Spanning 47 volumes published between 1982 and 1989, the series is one of the best-selling series of Scandinavian origin. <source>


31) Charlaine Harris (39 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, and 9 million copies of her other books. <source>

32) Sarah J. Maas (37 million+)

The “Queen of Romantasy” is one of modern genre publishing’s biggest success stories since launching her career just a decade ago with Throne of Glass. Her series include Throne of GlassA Court of Thorns and Roses and Crescent City. <source>

33) Michael Ende (36 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. <source>

34) R.A. Salvatore (35 million+)

R.A. Salvatore is the best-selling individual Dungeons & Dragons-related author. His Legend of Drizzt series, about a renegade dark elf, has encompassed 44 novels. He has also written another five Forgotten Realms-set novels, 14 in his own Corona series and eleven books in other settings, including two Star Wars novels. <source>

35) Tad Williams (30 million)
Tad Williams had sold 30 million copies of his books, including the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy, the Otherland quartet, the Shadowmarch series and several stand-alones, by 2015. Since then, he has added more sales from the Last King of Osten Ard series. <source>

36) Mary Stewart (30 million+)

Mary Stewart wrote many adventure and historical novels, but by far her biggest-selling work was the five-volume historical fantasy Merlin Series, beginning with The Crystal Cave. <source>


37) Kaoru Kurimoto (30 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. <source>


38) Margaret Weis (c. 30 million)
Margaret Weis is best-known for her many collaborations with Tracy Hickman, most notably in the the Dragonlance fantasy world, which they recently returned to. She has also written several solo novels and in collaboration with other writers, and for many years ran her own RPG company. <source>

39) Tracy Hickman (c. 30 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. <source>

40) Holly Black (26 million+)

Holly Black is the co-author (with Tony DiTerlizzi) of The Spiderwick Chronicles series for younger readers and numerous solo series for younger and adult readers. <source>


41) Terry Goodkind (26 million)
The late Terry Goodkind has sold over 26 million copies of his Sword of Truth series and associated novels. <source>

42) 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, including The Saga of Darren Shan, The Demonata, Zom-B, The Saga of Larten Crepsley and Archibald Lox. <source>


43) Eoin Colfer (25 million)
The Artemis Fowl series remains one of the biggest YA series around. <source>


44) 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. <source>


45) Philip Pullman (22 million)

Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy and the first two volumes of The Book of Dust sequel series have sold over 22 million copies, bolstered by the well-received recent BBC/HBO TV adaptation of his works. <source>


46) Laurell K. Hamilton (22 million+)

Laurell K. Hamilton is best-known for the Anita Blake series. <source>


47) James Dashner (21 million+)

James Dashner is the author of the extremely successful Maze Runner series, which has been adapted to film. <source>


48) 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, including non-fiction), including the even-better-known Robots series, his total sales are massively higher than this. In fact, if you told me he’d sold more than 100 million books, that’d be easily credible. Comfortably the most under-reported author on this list.  <source>

49) Frank Herbert (20 million)

Frank Herbert's Dune is reportedly the biggest-selling SF novel of all time, shifting almost 20 million copies by itself. His other sales – including five Dune sequels which all sold extremely well – have never been reported, so this figure is conservative in the extreme, especially given recent sales drives from the Denis Villeneuve movie adaptation. <source>

50) Douglas Adams (20 million+)

The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is the only individual SF novel which can challenge Dune as the biggest-selling SF novel of all time, with both books inching over 20 million sales individually. Adams’ four sequels to the original novel, plus his Dirk Gently series, likely push his total far beyond that figure as well. <source>


51) Brian Jacques (c. 20 million)

The late Brian Jacques sold over 20 million copies of his Redwall series of animal-based epic fantasies in his lifetime. <source>


52) Kazumasa Hirai (c. 20 million)

The late Kazumasa Hirai is the author of the Genma Taisen series of post-apocalyptic novels and graphic novels. <source>

53) Raymond E. Feist (20 million+)
Feist has sold more than 20 million copies of his Riftwar Cycle, which he concluded back in 2013 after thirty volumes (although he is headed back). Recent reports suggest that Magician by itself (in both its one-volume and American two-volume formats) accounts for almost half those sales. His German sales have now topped 750,000. <source>

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


55) 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. <source>

56) Leigh Bardugo: (20 million+)

The author of the Grishverse series of interrelated series and novels, most notably Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows. Sales have been boosted by a Netflix adaptation. <source>


57) Orson Scott Card (20 million+)
Orson Scott Card has sold over 20 million books, with over seven million copies of Ender's Game by itself in print. <source>


58) Cornelia Funke (20 million+)

Author and illustrator Cornelia Funke was born in Germany but is now resident in California. She is best-known for her children's fantasies, including the popular Inkheart series. <source>

59) P.C. Cast (20 million+)

PC Cast has written numerous supernatural and YA series, but her biggest success is The House of Night, co-authored with her daughter Kristin. <source>


60) Tony DiTerlizzi (20 million+)

The co-author (with Holly Black) of the enormously successful Spiderwick Chronicles series. DiTerlizzi is also an accomplished artist, particularly famed for his work on the Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting/world Planescape. <source>


61) J.R. Ward (15 million+)

The paranormal-tinged pen name of romance author Jessica Bird. The J.R. Ward-branded books have sold over 20 million copies by themselves. <source>


62) David & Leigh Eddings (18 million+)

David and Leigh Eddings co-wrote the Belgariad, Malloreon, Elenium and Tamuli series, although David alone was credited, with Leigh’s name only joining his on later prequel novels. Both Eddings passed away in the late 2000s. Unfortunately, their legacy has been tainted by revelations that they were both jailed for child abuse in 1970 and their adopted children withdrawn from their care. <source>


63) 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. <source>

64) Roger Zelazny (18 million+)
Roger Zelazny has sold more than 15 million copies of the Chronicles of Amber series alone and another 3 million for Lord of Light. <source>


65) Hideyuki Kikuchi (17 million+)

Hideyuki Kikuchi has sold some 18 million copies of his Vampire Hunter D and Wicked City series, not including their manga spin-offs. <source>

66) 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. <source: Magazine Issue 44>

67) Madeline L'Engle (16 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, has sold over 16 million copies by itself. The sales of the rest of the series are unknown, so the total may be noticeably higher even than this figure, especially given the recent movie version. <quote>

68) Yoshiki Tanaka (15 million)

Yoshiki Tanaka’s Legend of the Galactic Heroes series of epic SF novels has been adapted several times for manga and anime. <source>

69) Timothy Zahn (15 million)

Timothy Zahn has been credited as “the man who saved Star Wars,” via his Thrawn Trilogy of novels in 1991-93, which has sold over 15 million copies by itself, introducing the memorable characters of Grand Admiral Thrawn and Mara Jade. Zahn has intermittently revisited the Galaxy Far Far Away ever since, both in the original “Legends” continuity and the recent Disney reboot. Thrawn recently made his live-action debut in the Ahsoka series. <source>


70) Andrzej Sapkowski (15 million+): The Witcher 

Andrzej Sapkowski started penning his Witcher stories for writing competitions in his native Poland in the early 1990s. Thirty years later, the series is one of the biggest in fantasy. The video game series from CD Projekt Red has itself sold over 50 million copies, with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt frequently cited as one of the greatest video games of all time. At least four more games in the setting are on their way. The Netflix TV adaptation starring Henry Cavill has also been immensely successful, despite rumoured behind the scenes shenanigans leading to Cavill's departure. All of this has been good news for Sapkowski and his publishers. <source>

71) James Blish (12 million+)

A huge underrating, but I can’t find better figures. James Blish is best-known for his huge-selling novelisations of the original Star Trek series in the 1970s, and his Cities in Flight sequence. His sales by 1979 were at over 12 million. <source: Star Trek #2 cover blurb,  1979>

72) John Norman (12 million+)

The author of the Gor series. <source>

73) Diana Wynne Jones (10 million+)

The author of the Chrestomanci and Dalemark series, as well as the satirical work The Tough Guide to Fantasyland and Dark Lord of Derkholm. Probably her best-known novel is Howl’s Moving Castle, adapted as a Studio Ghibli movie. <source>


74) Robert E. Howard (10 million+)

One of the founding fathers of pulp fantasy, best-known for his Conan the Barbarian series of short stories and novels, but also the Kull the Conqueror and Solomon Kane series, amongst others. His sales are incalculable, as some of the pulp magazines he was writing for in the 1930s sold hundreds of thousands of copies a week. Several reissues of his work in the 1960s, 1990s and 2000s also sold millions of copies. This figure is extremely conservative, based on the Lancer Books editions with Frank Frazetta cover art alone. <source>


75) Stephen Donaldson (10 million+)

The author of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever, one of the works credited with starting the epic fantasy boom of the late 1970s. Donaldson has written significant other works, including the epic science fiction series The Gap. <source>


76) Alice Sebold (10 million+) <source>

77) Jerry Pournelle (10 million+) <prior source no longer available>

78) Chris Bunch (10 million+) <source>

79) Allan Cole (10 million+) <source>

80) Peter Straub (10 million+) <source>

81) Frederik Pohl (10 million+) <source>

82) Cyril M. Kornbluth (10 million+) <source>

83) Gordon R. Dickson (10 million+) <source>

84) Patrick Rothfuss (10 million+): The King-Killer Chronicle, The Name of the Wind <source>

85) Gregory Maguire (10 million+) <source>

86) Lauren Kate (10 million+) <source>

87) Lois Lowry (10 million): The Giver <source>

88) Ransom Riggs (9 million+): Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children <source>

89) Margaret Atwood (9 million+) (SFF figures only) <source>

90) Richelle Mead (9 million+) <source>

91) David Weber (8.75 million+) <source>

92) Daniel Abraham (James S.A. Corey) (8.3 million+) <source> <source>

93) Ty Franck (James S.A. Corey) (8 million+) <source>

94) Ray Bradbury (8 million+) <source>

95) Christopher Golden (8 million+) <source>

96) F. Paul Wilson (8 million+) <source>

97) John Flanagan (8 million+) <source>

98) Alyson Noel (8 million+) <source>

99) Liu Cixin (8 million+) <source>

100) Robin Hobb (8 million+) <source> (highly conservative extrapolation from French sales)

101) Jonathan Stroud (7 million+) <source>

101) Audrey Niffenegger (7 million+) <source>

102) Kiera Cass (7 million+): The Selection Series <source>

103) William Gibson (6.5 million+) <source>

104) Peter S. Beagle (6 million+) <source>

105) Jim Butcher (6 million+)

106) Barbara Hambly (6 million+)

107) Robert Harris (6 million+) (SF only)

108) Bella Forrest (6 million+)

109) Markus Heitz (5.1 million+)

110) Joe Abercrombie (5 million+) <source>

111) L. Frank Baum (5 million+)

112) Daniel Keyes (5 million+)

113) Garth Nix (5 million) <source>

114) Robert R. McCammon (5 million)

115) Vonda N. McIntyre (5 million)

116) Sergei Lukyanenko (5 million+)

117) Michael Jan Friedman (5 million+)

118) Kami Garcia (5 million+)

119) Margaret Stohl (5 million+)

120) Andy Weir (5 million+)

121) Alan Dean Foster (5 million+) (conservative figure based on sales of the original Star Wars novel itself) <source>

122) John Scalzi (5 million+) <source>

123) Brent Weeks (5 million) <source>

124) Will Wight (1 million+): Cradle <source>

125) Trudi Canavan (4.6 million+)

126) Peter V. Brett (4.5 million+) <source>

127) Frank Schätzing (4.2 million+)

128) Fritz Leiber (4 million+)

129) Lian Hearn (4 million)

130) David Drake (4 million)

131) Tamora Pierce (4 million+)

132) Max Brooks (4 million+)

133) Scott Westerfield (4 million+)

134) David Mitchell (4 million+)

135) Mary Janice Davidson (4 million+)

136) Janet Morris (4 million+)

137) Ursula K. Le Guin (4 million+ )

138) Victoria Aveyard (4 million+): Red Queen <source>

139) Susanna Clarke (4 million+): Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Piranesi <source>

140) Rick Yancey (3.6 million)

141) Ben Aaronovitch (3.5 million+): Rivers of London <source>

142) Deborah Harkness (3.5 million+)

143) Jeanne DuPrau (3.5 million+)

144) Steven Erikson (3.5 million+): The Malazan Book of the Fallen <source>

145) Jasper Fforde (3.5 million+): Thursday Next <source>

146) John Ringo (3.3 million)

147) Aaron Allston (3.3 million+): Star Wars

148) Ally Condie (3.3. million+)

149) Peter F. Hamilton (3 million+): The Night’s Dawn Trilogy

150) Guy Gavriel Kay (3 million)

151) Lloyd Alexander (3 million)

152) Dan Abnett (3 million+): Warhammer 40,000

153) Robert Silverberg (3 million+)

154) Eric Flint (3 million)

155) Robert Asprin (3 million)

156) Rick Hautala (3 million)

157) Brian Lumley (3 million+)

158) Neal Stephenson (3 million+)

159) Rachel Caine (3 million+)

160) Bernhard Hennen (3 million+)

161) L.E. Modesitt, Jr. (3 million+): The Saga of Recluce

162) Joseph Delaney (3 million+)

163) Melissa de la Cruz (3 million+)

164) Ed Greenwood (3 million+): Forgotten Realms

164) Hugh Howey (3 million+)

165) Licia Troisi (3 million+)

166) Andreas Eschbach (3 million+)

167) C.J. Cherryh (3 million+)

168) Erin Morgenstern (3 million+)

169) Rebecca Yaros (3 million+): Fourth Wing <sourcesource>

170) N.K. Jemisin (3 million+) <source>

171) Iain M. Banks (3 million)+ (SF only): The Culture <source>

172) Simon R. Green (2.7 million)

173) Kim Stanley Robinson (2.5 million+): The Mars Trilogy

174) Harry Turtledove (2.5 million)

175) S.M. Stirling (2.5 million)

176) Michelle Paver (2.5 million+) 

177) Lois McMaster Bujold (2.5 million): The Vorkosigan Saga

178) Kim Harrison (2.5 million+)

179) Michael A. Stackpole (2.3 million+)

180) Justin Cronin (2.2 million+) <source>

181) Susan Cooper (2 million+)

182) Hans Dominik (2 million+)

183) Katherine Kurtz (2 million)

184) Stephen Lawhead (2 million+)

185) Robert Rankin (2 million+)

186) Maggie Stiefvater (2 million+)

187) Gregory Benford (2 million+)

188) Greg Bear (2 million+)

189) Jacqueline Carey (2 million+)

190) Piers Anthony (2 million+)

191) David Gemmell (2 million+)

192) Kevin Crossley-Holland (2 million+)

193) Becca Fitzpatrick (2 million+)

194) Kai Meyer (2 million+)

195) Marie Lu (2 million+)

196) Brian Daley (2 million+)

197) Jack Williamson (2 million+)

198) Jack Campbell (2 million+)

199) Cinda Williams Chima (2 million+)

200) Dave Wolverton (2 million+)

201) Laura Gallego Garcia (2 million+)

202) Kerstin Gier (2 million+)

203) H.P. Lovecraft (2 million+)

204) Lev Grossman (2 million+)

205) Kelley Armstrong (2 million+)

206) Dmitry Glukhovsky (2 million+)

207) Sara Douglass (2 million+)

208) A.G. Riddle (2 million+)

209) Blake Crouch (2 million+)

210) Christine Feehan (2 million+)

211) Ernest Cline (2 million+)

212) Pierce Brown (2 million+): Red Rising <source>

213) Michael J. Sullivan (2 million+) <source>

214) Anne Leckie (2 million+) <source>

215) Madeline Miller (2 million+): The Song of Achilles, Circe <source>

216) Kevin Hearne (2 million+) <source>

217) Mark Lawrence (2 million) <source>

218) Naomi Novik (2 million+): Temeraire <source>

219) Melanie Rawn (1.8 million+)

220) Jennifer Roberson (1.7 million)

221) Kristin Cashore (1.7 million+): The Graceling Series <source>

222) Alexander Kroger (1.65 million+)

223) Carlos Rasch (1.5 million+)

224) Elizabeth Moon (1.5 million+)

225) Libba Bray (1.5 million+)

226) Heather Brewer (1.5 million+)

227) Amanda Hocking (1.5 million+)

228) Dan Simmons (1.5 million+)

229) Lara Adrian (1.5 million)

230) Nalini Singh (1.5 million)

231) Seth Grahame-Smith (1.4 million)

232) Richard Schwartz (1.4 million+)

233) Stan Nicholls (1.25 million+)

234) Tanya Huff (1.2 million+)

235) David Mack (1.2 million+)

236) Jennifer Estep (1.1 million+)

237) Joe Hill (1 million+)

238) Samuel R. Delany (1 million+)

239) William Goldman (1 million+)

240) Paul S. Kemp (1 million+)

241) Connie Willis (1 million)

242) Alastair Reynolds (1 million+)

243) Ian Irvine (1 million+)

244) Richard A. Knaak (1 million+)

245) Katherine Kerr (1 million+)

246) Dave Duncan (1 million+)

247) A.C. Crispin (1 million+)

248) Joe Haldeman (1 million+)

249) Glen Cook (1 million+)

250) David Brin (1 million+)

251) Henry N. Beard (1 million+)

252) Douglas C. Kenney (1 million+)

253) Alexey Pehov (1 million+)

254) John Gregory Betancourt (1 million+)

255) Jo Clayton (1 million+)

256) Christie Golden (1 million+)

257) Dennis L. McKiernan (1 million+)

258) Drew Karpyshyn (1 million+)

259) Karen Miller (1 million+)

260) Elizabeth Haydon (1 million+)

261) Tim Powers (1 million+)

262) Walter Moers (1 million+)

263) Dacre Stoker (1 million+)

264) Laini Taylor (1 million+)

265) Kazuo Ishiguro (1 million+) (SF only)

266) Julie Kagawa (1 million+)

267) Melissa Marr (1 million+)

268) Kenneth Oppel (1 million+)

269) Richard Matheson (1 million+)

270) Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan (1 million+)

271) Anne Bishop (1 million+)

272) William F. Nolan (1 million+)

273) C.C. Hunter (1 million+)

274) Octavia Butler (1 million+)

275) Tahereh Mafi (1 million+)

276) Greg Keyes (1 million+)

277) Hao Jingfang (1 million+)

278) Lynsay Sands (1 million+)

279) Emily R. King (1 million+)

280) Anthony Ryan (1 million+)

281) James Islington (1 million+) <source>

282) C.S. Friedman (1 million+) <source>

283) Stephanie Garber (1 million+): The Caraval Trilogy <source>

284) Martha Wells (1 million+): The Murderbot Diaries <source>

285) Ian C. Esslemont (1 million+): The Novels of the Malazan Empire <source>

286) John M. Ford (1 million+) <source>

287) Samantha Shannon (1 million+) <source>

288) Brian McClellan (1 million+) <source>

Additional Figures

  • Chris Wooding (750,000+)
  • Pierre Bordage (900,000+)
  • Jay Allan (800,000+)
  • William King (750,000+)
  • William Forstchen (750,000+)
  • Alison Croggon (750,000+)
  • Craig Shaw Gardner (750,000+)
  • Lilith Saintcrown (675,000+)
  • Rachel Ward (650,000+)
  • Katherine Arden (600,000+) <source>
  • Michael Peinkofer (600,000+)
  • Gail Z. Martin (600,000+)
  • Charlie Higson (600,000+)
  • M.R. Carey (600,000+)
  • Jeaniene Frost (600,000+)
  • Kate Elliott (500,000+)
  • Scott Lynch (500,000+) 
  • Janny Wurts (500,000+)
  • Michael Gerber (500,000+)
  • David Dalglish (500,000+)
  • Patricia Briggs (500,000+)
  • Gail Carriger (500,000)
  • Sharon Lee (500,000+)
  • Steve Miller (500,000+)
  • Daniel Arenson (500,000+)
  • James Lowder (500,000+)
  • Alexandra Ivy (500,000+)
  • Tomi Adeyemi (500,000+) <source>
  • Alfred Bester (500,000+) <source>
  • Tom Holt (KJ Parker) (450,000+)
  • Hugh Cook (450,000+)
  • Lawrence Watt-Evans (400,000+)
  • Michael G. Manning (400,000)
  • Henri Lœvenbruck (400,000+)
  • Lynn Flewelling (350,000)
  • Christoph Hardebusch (350,000+)
  • G.A. Aiken (350,000+)
  • Mark Smith (Jonathan Wylie) (300,000+)
  • Julia Smith (Jonathan Wylie) (300,000+) 
  • George Saunders (300,000+)
  • Sara Prineas (300,000+)
  • Seanan McGuire (300,000+)
  • Catherine Webb (Kate Griffin/Claire North) (300,000+)
  • Royce Buckingham (290,000+)
  • Pierre Grimbert (260,000+)
  • J.V. Jones (250,000+)
  • Maggie Furey (250,000+)
  • Lauren DeStefano (250,000+)
  • Nicholas Sansbury Smith (250,000)
  • Adrian Tchaikovsky (250,000+) (highly conservative estimate based solely on Children of Time) <source>
  • Duncan M. Hamilton (220,000+)
  • Karen Russell (210,000+)
  • James Barclay (200,000+)
  • R. Scott Bakker (200,000+)
  • Paolo Bacigalupi (200,000+)
  • Jaye Wells (200,000+)
  • Lauren Oliver (200,000+)
  • James Lovegrove (200,000+)
  • Ilona Andrews (200,000+)
  • John Gwynne (200,000+) <source>
  • Daniel H. Wilson (160,000+)
  • Richard Morgan (150,000+)
  • Jeff VanderMeer (150,000+)
  • Adam Roberts (150,000+)
  • Glen Duncan (150,000+)
  • Luke Scull (150,000+)
  • Glenda Larke (135,000+)
  • Emily St. John Mandel (1.5 million+) <source>
  • Benedict Jacka (130,000+)
  • Becky Chambers (131,000+) (highly conservative) <source>
  • R.J. Baker (120,000+) <source>
  • T.S. Orgel (50,000+)
  • Hannu Rajaniemi (100,000+)
  • Juliet Marillier (100,000+)
  • Cecilia Dart-Thornton (100,000+)
  • Vaughn Heppner (100,000+)
  • Cherie Priest (100,000+)
  • Sally Green (100,000+)
  • Miles Cameron (100,000+) (fantasy only)
  • Michael Cobley (100,000+)
  • Vasily Mahanenko (100,000+)
  • Jenn Lyons (100,000+) <source>
  • Andrea Stewart (80,000+) <source>
  • Tom Lloyd (75,000)
  • Tim C. Taylor (75,000+)
  • Russell Kirkpatrick (70,000+)

As usual, the diligent research by a few people over at was most helpful in assembling the list, along with occasional updates by some authors and/or their agents, scanning various catalogues and further discussions online.

Thank you for reading The Wertzone. To help me provide better content, please consider contributing to my Patreon page and other funding methods.


zionius said...

The sales of Liu Cixin is hugely underestimated. In 2020 it is reported as 29m, which appeared on the obi of Japanese Dark Forest: (全世界2900万部突破=29m copies worldwide). Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy remains at the top of Chinese sales rank of all fictions since then, also given the 2023 Tencent show into consideration, so now it is safe to assume a figure over 40m.

zionius said...

It appears Percy Jackson doesn't have an Amazon TV series.

messy said...

Stephenie Meyer outselling Ursula Leguin by that much is depressing.