The new SFF authors all-time sales list

Brian G Turner

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Adam has updated his all-time SFF authors sales list here:
http://thewertzone.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/the-updated-sff-all-time-sales-list.html

The first 20 authors by sales volume are:

1) J.K Rowling (c. 450 million)

2) Stephen King (c. 350 million)

3) JRR Tolkien (c. 300 million)

[Dean Koontz (c. 200 million)]

[Michael Crichton (c. 200 million)]

4) Anne Rice (136 million)

5) CS Lewis (120 million+)

6) Stephanie Meyer (116 million)

7) Edgar Rice Burroughs (100 million+)

8) Sir Arthur C. Clarke (100 million+)

9) Suzanne Collins (100 million+)

10) Andre Norton (90 million+)

11) Sir Terry Pratchett (85 million+)

12) Robert Jordan (80 million+)

[John Saul (60 million+)]

13) James Herbert (54 million+)

14) Terry Brooks (50 million+)

15) Richard Adams (50 million+)

[Dennis Wheatley (50 million)]

[Jean M. Auel (45 million+)]

16) George R.R. Martin (44.4 million+)

[Morgan Llywelyn (40 million)]

17) Neil Gaiman (40 million+ )

18) Rick Riordan (40 million+)

19) Christopher Paolini (39 million)

20) Charlaine Harris (35 million)


Werthead goes into much more detail on his own list, not least about the storming success of GRRM since it was last compiled.

This makes our older thread on the subject somewhat redundant, so I'll close that.
 

Jo Zebedee

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blah - flags. So many flags.
A few surprises there--Andre Norton at #10, Heinlein below Sherilyn Kenyon (who I've never heard of), etc.

The list also illustrates just how much more lucrative the YA SF/F market is than the adult-oriented SF/F market right now.
Far be it from me to run an author down, but the longer you can go without having heard of and, specifically read, Sherilyn Kenyon, the better for you. I read one and it was the single worst book I can remember picking up. Not just from a taste pov, but from the head hopping, save me from it pov. :D
 

Nerds_feather

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Far be it from me to run an author down, but the longer you can go without having heard of and, specifically read, Sherilyn Kenyon, the better for you. I read one and it was the single worst book I can remember picking up. Not just from a taste pov, but from the head hopping, save me from it pov. :D
There are a lot of those out there! Have to say I'm surprised that Kenyon has massively outsold Lauren K. Hamilton and Jim Butcher as well--I'm by no means an expert on urban fantasy, but I thought those were the two biggest names out there. Shows how much I know, I guess.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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There are a lot of names on the list I don't know at all, and a lot of names I've heard but whose work I have never read, so my comments may be way off the mark. With that it mind, it seems to show the overwhelming popularity of fantasy and horror as opposed to science fiction. Clarke is the notable exception, with folks like Burroughs and Norton maybe better thought of as "science fantasy."
 

Jo Zebedee

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blah - flags. So many flags.
There are a lot of those out there! Have to say I'm surprised that Kenyon has massively outsold Lauren K. Hamilton and Jim Butcher as well--I'm by no means an expert on urban fantasy, but I thought those were the two biggest names out there. Shows how much I know, I guess.
Kenyon's sf, too, though. And very, very prolific....
 

Werthead

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Urban fantasy is big, but YA urban fantasy is a much huger market, and YA paranormal fantasy is even bigger still. These authors also don't necessarily have vast numbers of readers, but because the books are short they can usually churn out several a year, sometimes in different series with different fanbases, and are snapped up very quickly.

Adult SF is a surprisingly (depressingly?) tiny market in comparison. Dune is the biggest-selling single novel, with 18-20 million sales, and even that is a huge outlier. To get to his reasonably impressive figures, Asimov had to write 500-odd books (including non-fiction). Heinlein would be bigger as he's an American superstar, but his profile outside the USA has always been vastly smaller. Clarke is huge internationally, but again that's based on him being prolific and also having several films made of his work.
 

MWagner

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The preeminence of young adult fiction in today's market is striking. I'd wager if we look back to the 60s, and 70s we would not see books aimed at teenagers (even if they're read by a lot of older people as well) dominate book sales. The books of Michener, Clavell and Hailey don't have a lot of teenagers in them. So what changed? More teens and young adults reading? Doubtful. Relatively fewer adults reading? Probably. Adults a lot more comfortable reading stories with teen protagonists then they were 30 and 40 years ago? Almost certainly.

It makes me wonder what the future holds. Mystery remains a popular genre, and one read largely by the 40+. Will people who read Harry Potter in their childhood and Patrick Rothfuss today switch to mystery when they hit middle age and reconcile themselves to middle age protagonists? Will the mystery genre die out altogether? Or will it start to feature teen protagonists as well?
 

Brian G Turner

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So what changed?
I posted a thread before about Pat Mills, who was the first editor of 2000AD - in one of his posts he just happens to mention that the 8-14 age range was the sweet spot for comics, but that industry effectively collapsed in the 90's. I wonder if that might have anything to do with it?
 

HareBrain

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The preeminence of young adult fiction in today's market is striking. I'd wager if we look back to the 60s, and 70s we would not see books aimed at teenagers (even if they're read by a lot of older people as well) dominate book sales. The books of Michener, Clavell and Hailey don't have a lot of teenagers in them. So what changed? More teens and young adults reading? Doubtful. Relatively fewer adults reading? Probably. Adults a lot more comfortable reading stories with teen protagonists then they were 30 and 40 years ago? Almost certainly.
Another factor might be that there wasn't such a perception, in those days, of a teenage market with its own specific needs. There was in music and fashion, certainly, but this only started a decade or two before, and I think publishing tends to lag behind trends in other industries, so it wouldn't be surprising if it took a while to latch on.
 

ratsy

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I think that Sanderson will be one to watch as he climbs those ranks. As his new series gains more ground and his YA stuff coming out once a year, he will have a lot of books on the market for someone only in the game for 10 years.

I'm amazed by how many of these authors I haven't read. Haven't read Rowling or Koontz (although I do have one of his in my TBR)
 

MWagner

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I posted a thread before about Pat Mills, who was the first editor of 2000AD - in one of his posts he just happens to mention that the 8-14 age range was the sweet spot for comics, but that industry effectively collapsed in the 90's. I wonder if that might have anything to do with it?
That makes a lot of sense.
 

Nerds_feather

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I posted a thread before about Pat Mills, who was the first editor of 2000AD - in one of his posts he just happens to mention that the 8-14 age range was the sweet spot for comics, but that industry effectively collapsed in the 90's. I wonder if that might have anything to do with it?
The comics audience is now much older. ComiXology did a survey and found the average reader is 27-36 and male, though the biggest growth demographic is 17-26 and female.
 

ratsy

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The comics audience is now much older. ComiXology did a survey and found the average reader is 27-36 and male, though the biggest growth demographic is 17-26 and female.
So basically the 8-14 year olds from the 90's are now reading comics again. It is kind of interesting because I just started getting back into comics at 34 years old.
 

Nerds_feather

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So basically the 8-14 year olds from the 90's are now reading comics again. It is kind of interesting because I just started getting back into comics at 34 years old.
That's exactly what's happened. But comics are also not really selling to those 8-14 year olds anymore either. They get into the superhero characters via the movies, true, but comics by and large are aimed at older audiences now.
 

Bick

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I'm not sure what this list says about me - that I'm a horrible out of touch dinosaur I suppose - because I have heard of none of the authors listed in positions 18 through 25, with the exception of Lem and Salvatore. Well I think I'm aware of the name of a couple but couldn'the name a single book by them.

EDIT : I'm not familiar with #4 or #9 either !! (Note that in the link the list is different to the post, with someone called Stephanie Meyer at 4)
 
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Werthead

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I have updated the list slightly since Brian reposted it. The latest version is:

1) J.K Rowling (c. 450 million) - author of the Harry Potter series.
2) Stephen King (c. 350 million) - author of The Dark Tower series and numerous standalones (IT, The Stand, etc).
3) JRR Tolkien (c. 300 million) - author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
4) Stephanie Meyer (250 million) - author of the Twilight series of vampire novels.
5) Anne Rice (136 million) - author of The Vampire Chronicles, most notably Interview with the Vampire.
6) CS Lewis (120 million+) - author of The Chronicles of Narnia and the SF trilogy beginning with Out of the Silent Planet.
7) Edgar Rice Burroughs (100 million+) - creator of Tarzan and the John Carter of Mars series.
8) Sir Arthur C. Clarke (100 million+) - author of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Rendezvous with Rama, among many others.
9) Suzanne Collins (100 million+) - author of The Hunger Games trilogy.
10) Andre Norton (90 million+) - author of the Witch World series, amongst many, many others.
 

MWagner

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Shocked to see Norton on that list. I doubt she has one-tenth the name recognition of the next least-known author on the list.
 
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