The Ages Of Bestselling Authors

The Ages Of Bestselling Authors

Have you ever wondered about the ages of bestselling authors? We look at when these writers were first published and if men or women were more likely to be published first.

Guest Post

In order to be granted the highest honour in fiction writing, that of being a “bestseller”, one thing is clear: it’s going to take some time. 

In The Book has researched the ages of New York Times bestselling authors from when the prestigious list began in 1942. We looked at when they published their first bestseller.

This research was turned into an interactive index, filtered by genre, gender, and decade.

The Ages Of Bestselling Authors: Key Takeaways

First time bestselling authors are getting older through the decades. Comparing the 1950s to the current decade, an author has to wait over seven years longer to publish a bestseller.

  1. The average age of an author who achieves bestseller status for the first time in the 2010s is 52, compared to 44.5 in the 1950s. Authors must now wait seven years longer.
  1. Authors pursuing careers as thriller writers need to wait the longest to achieve bestseller status. The average age of a thriller writer publishing their first bestseller is 52. This has risen to 54 since 2010.
  1. In the 2010s, females achieved bestseller status at a younger average age than their male peers (51 vs 52).

Gender Difference Across Genres

It is fair to ascertain that gender has no influence on when authors become bestsellers.

In a society where gender discrepancy is scrutinised, one of the most amazing facts to come out of the research was that both males and females publish bestsellers, on average, at 48 years old. 48.8 for both, to be precise!

The Ages Of Bestselling Authors

Within the genres, there were differences in male and female average ages.

  1. The biggest difference within genres was the thriller, which shows a huge eight years between when male and female authors published their first bestseller. Male crime authors can expect to publish bestselling novels at an average of 48 years old, whereas the female authors have to wait until 56.
  2. Romance produced younger bestselling female authors than their male counterparts, with women achieving the prestigious status at 45 compared to 47 for men. The same occurred with the literary fiction genre, with the female age being 46 compared to the male average age of 47.
  3. The fantasy genre, again, saw female authors publish a bestselling novel before the male authors at age 47 compared to 48.


Another surprising statistic that In The Book uncovered was the number of bestsellers published in each decade. The 2000s were by far the most saturated, with 61 new bestsellers emerging. This contrasts greatly with the previous decade, the 1990s saw 28 new bestsellers being published, fewer than half of the 2000s.

Click here to look at the index: Ages of Authors When They First Publish a Bestseller

by Tom Matthews. Tom looks after public relations for small independent publisher, In The Book. He spends his free time working on his novel. He is a member of the Graham Greene Foundation. Follow him on Instagram.

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Posted on: 20th December 2019