10 Best-Selling Authors of All Time - TCK Publishing (2022)

10 Best-Selling Authors of All Time - TCK Publishing (1)

Most authors dream of seeing their name on bestseller lists, but imagine what an honor it would be to see your name among the best-selling authors of all time!

In this post, we’ll show you 10 authors who have sold the most books throughout history, from the days of William Shakespeare to the more recent times of J.K. Rowling.

Best-Selling Authors of All Time

Below are the 10 best-selling authors of all time.

1. William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)

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Copies sold: 2–4 billion

Often cited as the greatest writer in the English language and the bane of every high school student’s existence, William Shakespeare has an estimated 4 billion copies of his works in circulation.

The “Bard of Avon” penned 39 plays (including classic works such as Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Othello), 154 sonnets, and three long narrative poems.

2. Agatha Christie (1890 – 1976)

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Copies sold: 2–4 billion

Dame Agatha Christie currently holds the title of the world’s best-selling novelist, according to Guiness World Records, as well as the most-translated author in history.

Some of her most widely recognized titles include And Then There Were None and Murder On the Orient Express.

3. Barbara Cartland (1901 – 2000)

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Copies sold: 600 million – 1 billion

Over the course of her lifetime, Dame Barbara Cartland wrote an astounding 723 books, most of which were romances.

Although each individual book sold on average just over a million copies, the sheer output she produced helped her become one of the best-selling authors of all time. Some of her most popular works include A Hazard of Hearts and The Bored Bridegroom.

4. Danielle Steel (1947 – )

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Copies sold: 800 million

Since her debut in 1978, Danielle Steel has written 190 books. She’s no stranger to juggling up to five projects per year, and all of her novels have been bestsellers.

Most of her novels are romances that revolve around wealthy families and their personal crises, including prison, fraud, blackmail, and suicide. Some of her most popular works include Safe Harbour and Jewels.

5. Harold Robbins (1916 – 1997)

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Copies sold: 750 million

Harold Robbins’s rise from clerk to executive at Universal Pictures was already an impressive achievement, but he also went on to write over 25 best-selling books, which sold over 750 million copies in 32 languages.

His 1952 novel,A Stone for Danny Fisher,was adapted into the 1958 film King Creole starringElvis Presley.

6. Georges Simenon (1903 – 1989)

Copies sold: 500–700 million

Georges Simenon was a Belgian author who wrote over 400 novels and numerous short stories.

Among his best-known works are his 75 detective novels featuring Jules Maigret. Simenon is the 17th-most-translated author of all time.

7. Enid Blyton (1897 – 1968)

Copies sold: 600 million

Enid Blyton was an English children’s writer whose books have sold over 600 million copies since the 1930s.

Her books for children covered a wide range of themes and topics, including education, fantasy, natural history, mystery, and biblical narratives.

However, her work has also been criticized for its sometimes racist and xenophobic depictions of foreigners and people of color. Nonetheless, her children’s books remain popular, with some of her best-known titles including The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, and The Five Find-Outers.

8. Sidney Sheldon (1917 – 2007)

Copies sold: 370–600 million

Sidney Sheldon got his start writing Broadway plays and Hollywood screenplays, including The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer and I Dream of Jeannie.

But after turning 50, Sheldon switched gears and began writing romantic-suspense novels. His 18 books include bestsellers like Master of the Game and The Other Side of Midnight.

9. J.K. Rowling (1965 – )

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Copies sold: 500 million

A novel written on an old typewriter took J.K. Rowling from a struggling single mother to best-selling billionaire status in just a matter of years.

Her iconic Harry Potter books have sold over 500 million copies and launched a franchise of films, merchandise, and even amusement parks.

10. Gilbert Patten (1866 – 1945)

Copies sold: 125–500 million

The king of the dime novel, Gilbert Patten wrote over 75 books and numerous short stories under the pen name Burt L. Standish.

He’s best known for penning the popular Frank Merriwell stories, but he also wrote many Westerns.

Who Is the Best-Selling Author Alive?

Currently, the #1 best-selling author alive is Danielle Steel. Although her books receive mixed feedback from literary critics, her romance novels have sold over 800 million copies and remain incredibly popular.

What Is the #1 Best-Selling Book of All Time?

The best-selling individual book of all time is The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, with approximately 140.6 million copies sold.

Don Quixote is also often cited as the best-selling novel of all time, but Cervantes’ novel, along with many other classics, lacks comprehensive sales figures, so we don’t know for sure just how many copies were sold.

More Author Success Stories

If you enjoy reading author success stories, then you may be interested in learning more about the world’s richest authors.

While there is some overlap, not all the best-selling authors from this list made the richest authors list. Many authors have found financial success through franchising and other ventures.

Who is your favorite author of all time? Share your picks in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this post, then you might also like:

  • The World’s Richest Authors and How They Made It
  • 15 of the Best Romance Authors to Add to Your Library
  • 16 of the Best Children’s Authors that Delight All Ages
  • 10 Must-Read Jackie Collins Books That Guarantee a Glamorous Thrill

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Kaelyn Barron

As a blog writer for TCK Publishing, Kaelyn loves crafting fun and helpful content for writers, readers, and creative minds alike. She has a degree in International Affairs with a minor in Italian Studies, but her true passion has always been writing. Working remotely allows her to do even more of the things she loves, like traveling, cooking, and spending time with her family.

  1. 10 Best-Selling Authors of All Time - TCK Publishing (10)

    Harrisonon October 19, 2022 at 5:01 pm

    Would Eiichiro Oda count?
    Though considering the time of publication Eiichiro Oda wouldn’t be on the list

    Reply

  2. 10 Best-Selling Authors of All Time - TCK Publishing (11)

    Chip Bakeron October 2, 2022 at 7:49 pm

    Clive cussler is a great writer. The number one in history is the bible.

    Reply

    • 10 Best-Selling Authors of All Time - TCK Publishing (12)

      Margalit Avrahamon October 7, 2022 at 2:33 pm

      not a relevant answer – the topic is best selling authors – NOT best selling books! And while many believe both the Jewish (“old”) testament and the Christian (“new”) testament were either inspired by Go-d or in the Christian Bible – the gospels were each written by the name of the gospel, a wee bit of research shows that’s really not at all likely – and then there is the close association of the content of Matthew, Mark and Luke and the very,very different content and style of John. And so much more to discuss about who wrote the Bible – so it can’t really be considered in an article about who wrote the most books…….but I won’t argue with someone claiming G-d is responsible for the writing of ALL books as it certainly would be one of the powers of the (Christian and Jewish) G-d. Only my opinion, I could be wrong as a Dennis Miller has been known to say (frequently). But regardless of my opinion about who wrote the Bible – it dosn’t belong on a list of “Best Selling Authors of all Time” and I also find it someone offensive to bring G-d down to nothing more than an author of the best selling authors of all time. Again,only my opinion……

      Reply

    • 10 Best-Selling Authors of All Time - TCK Publishing (14)

      Cole Salaoon July 29, 2022 at 3:01 pm

      Hey Kevin, Roald Dahl’s definitely a best-selling author. We just couldn’t fit everyone on the list :)

      Reply

  3. 10 Best-Selling Authors of All Time - TCK Publishing (15)

    Thomas F Ackeron June 25, 2022 at 4:40 pm

    Grisham, Patterson and Child are the contemporary authors whose novels I enjoy the most. In addition, the classic novel “A Tale of Two Cities”, by Charles Dickens is a the novel for the century!

    Reply

    • 10 Best-Selling Authors of All Time - TCK Publishing (16)

      Kaelyn Barronon June 25, 2022 at 8:05 pm

      Thanks for sharing your favorites, Thomas! You’ve got great taste :)

      Reply

  4. 10 Best-Selling Authors of All Time - TCK Publishing (17)

    Wayne Chapmanon May 16, 2022 at 6:13 pm

    I have to admit that I don’t read much fiction. When I was in high school, I read the James Herriot novels. And when I was even younger, I was really into Donald Sobol’s Encyclopedia Brown series. Literature at its finest! Eventually I got into graphic novels, and Alan Moore has been my favorite writer of that format.

    Reply

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