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10 Most Popular Authors of All Time

Updated on December 27, 2016

New books get released every day so gaining popularity is becoming very hard for authors, even though a book can be bought over the Internet and available for everyone in mere hours after its official release. In the sea of series and stand-alones that often have similar plots and characters, it is not really easy for a single author to stand out and become interesting for everyone.

Furthermore, the most popular topics seem to be overused and it can often lead to people strategically choosing what type of books they will read, which is often very discouraging for authors of a certain genre. Regardless of all the difficulties, let’s take a look at the authors that made it to top.

Alice Sebold


Having published a stand-alone The Lovely Bones in 2002, this author has attracted a lot of attention, mainly because of the topic of the book. It tells the story of a girl raped and murdered, who afterwards watches the events from the afterlife. The events in the book are very disturbing, but it gives a whole new perspective to the world of murder and a very interesting view of how the afterlife works. Sebold had certainly done a great job, since she had sold over 10 million copies of the book, and it has continued to be a source of praise ever since.

Rick Riordan


9. Rick Riordan

Having sold over 20 million copies of his five-book series Percy Jackson & The Olympians, Rick Riordan managed to stand out among many writers who wrote about Greek mythology. The good thing about his books is that they picture the whole fairytale concept very convincingly, making the reader’s imagination go wild while he connects the ancient world of Greeks and their mythology with the modern world.

It is also a sign that the world had not really changed – this might be the second renaissance, returning to the old values the ancient Greeks had set for us. Another good thing is that there is an equally popular sequel to this series, Heroes of Olympus, which also contains five books, with the final offering published in October, 2014. What is certain is that Riordan most definitely won’t remain at 20 million sold copies and that this number is only going to increase during the incoming years.

Veronica Roth


8. Veronica Roth

Known for her stunning Divergent trilogy, this writer combined the prospects of a vast and futuristic world with the very much real issues that the human race is already dealing with. She also managed to make the books close to younger people by making the main character a teenager who is not sure what her place in the world is. A teen who is labeled as divergent.

The fact that the series had sold over 20 million copies when the first book was released in 2011 is stunning, but the cause of its popularity certainly is not: a dramatic ending, a series full of action and anticipation. This is what you are in for if you decide to become one of the millions of people who had read these books.

Suzanne Collins


7. Suzanne Collins

The trilogy she had written, The Hunger Games, has become very popular only recently and is often talked about. The plot is set in an imaginary world where people are divided into factions and every year a faction must send two teenagers as tributes for a savage game to death called The Hunger Games.

Of course, it gets more complicated afterwards and the whole consistency of the rulership is questioned when a teenager heroine Katniss defies all laws with her bravery and intelligence. Having sold over 50 million copies, this trilogy is definitely going to be a very active topic for a while longer, and who knows, we may even have a continuation of the series in the years to come.

Stephenie Meyer


6. Stephenie Meyer

Both the saga she has initially gained popularity for, Twilight, and the stand-alone The Host (which is, according to recent information, going to have two sequels), are very popular, especially among teenagers. The Twilight Saga originally consisted of four books and a short novel, and it has been translated into over 38 different languages. It has caused worldwide interest with over 120 million copies being sold, which makes this series very astonishing.

The topic of it is also very popular – it’s about vampires and werewolves and their worlds intermingling with each other along with that of humans, but whereas many other writers had tried to replicate or recreate the concept themselves, none of them has been as successful with it as Meyer.

Dan Brown


5. Dan Brown

Dan Brown is perhaps best known for the 2003 bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code. Brown's novels are treasure hunts set in a 24-hour period. They feature many reoccurring themes including those of cryptography, codes, keys, symbols, conspiracy theories and more. These books have been translated into 52 languages, and as of 2012, sold over 200 million copies all together. Tree of these books, The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, and The Lost Symbol have all been adapted into films.

At well over 200 million books sold, he is one of the most bestselling and renown authors of all time. After completing only six books, he has achieved these sales writing fewer books than anyone above him on the list.

George R.R. Martin


4. George R.R. Martin

One of Martin's most famous works is A Song of Ice and Fire, his international bestselling series of epic fantasy novels which HBO adapted for its dramatic series Game of Thrones. In 2005, Lev Grossman of Time called Martin "the American Tolkien", and the magazine later named him one of the "2011 Time 100", a list of the "most influential people in the world. His books are so detailed, stunning, and unexpected that you will be consumed by them. Game of Thrones will start its seventh season in the months to come.

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C. S. Lewis


3. C. S. Lewis

His amazing series consisting of seven parts, The Chronicles Of Narnia, was released over 70 years ago, but it remains very popular to this day. The main reason for that is the fact that the books are fit for small children, but also for teenagers and grown-ups as well. They tell the story of a fantasy world that can be entered through a closet full of mystical beings, magical powers and seemingly unimportant things that later become very important for the plot.

It’s also a story about growing up and how it takes many sacrifices in order to become a grown-up. With over 120 million sold copies and having been translated to more than 47 different languages, this series still remains a must-have for every household.

J. R. R. Tolkien


2. J. R. R. Tolkien

This monumental author had also published his books over 70 years ago, but they remain the main fuel for children’s imagination today. Whether it’s The Hobbit, or The Lord of the Rings trilogy or some of his other masterpieces, everybody has either read or heard of one of his works. The world he had created in his books remains puzzling and fascinating not only to the readers, but also to scientists and wise individuals around the globe, since it’s very complex and full of imaginary beings, landscapes and languages that are described so well and with so much details that it is easy to believe they are real.

Having sold over 150 million copies of this epic trilogy and having been translated to over 39 languages, his books remain some of the most popular in the whole world. And with the each movie adaptation the figures are sky rocketing again. One thing is for sure, everybody loves Tolkien.

J. K. Rowling


1. J. K. Rowling

This remarkable woman had sold over 450 million copies of her books and they remain at the top of every bestseller list. The publicity definitely is deserved – the 7-book Harry Potter series remains firmly at the top even after the last book was published in 2007. The story is set in an imaginary world, but it is easy to believe that it is a part of the real one due to the unbelievable creativity injected into each story.

The journey Harry Potter, the main character, goes on tells the story of growing up, loss, love, friendship, and it also contains many mature topics that are very popular in the world – children abuse, inequalities and discrimination, corruption and many other important topics of the day. The story also gives us another perspective to the main villain of the series, Lord Voldemort, and how he ended up being an evil being, which is not something that often happens in novels.

The series is fit for almost everyone, so its popularity is most certainly understandable, and it is certainly going to remain popular for many years to come. She also completed a crime novel, The Casual Vacancy, but she did it under the pseudonym because she didn’t want the more serious tone of the book to affect how viewers see Harry Potter.

What Have We Learned Today?

Of course, these authors are just the tip of the iceberg. With so many fine authors in the world, it can be difficult to pinpoint the very best of the best. But one thing is for sure, these ten writers have truly defined what being a successful author truly means.

Did we miss anyone on this list? Who should be included? Who should be taken out? Leave your thoughts in the comments.


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