If you had to choose between quality versus quantity, which would you choose? What if we told you that you could have both!
At least, that is the case for those in the literature world. Over the years, authors of all genres put their creative minds to the test by seeing how many books they could write. Before computers, these prolific authors managed to publish as many as over 500 novels, novellas, short stories, and indeed any piece of writing!
Keep reading to see what authors have written the most books in history.
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.
“Everything is meaningless!”
Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.
The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.
Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.
Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
1. Stephen King
“I had a period where I thought I might not be good enough to publish.” – Stephen King
It is no surprise to see Stephen King as one of the most published authors. He once said that he writes 2,000 words a day, which accounts for how quickly you see his books on shelves (and on the big screen). Records say that King has published 60 full-length works and over 200 short stories.
King also has essays, screenplays, and comics. You have to wonder how one author could write something as horrific as Carrie and then create a heart-warming story like The Green Mile. King is definitely a writer of all trades.
2. Isaac Asimov
“Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.” Isaac Asimov
Science-fiction enthusiasts all know who Isaac Asimov is. A legend of the genre, Asimov wrote or edited more than 500 books and hundreds of short stories. He wrote a few series of publications, including the Foundation Series, Galactic Empire, and Robot Series.
Most of Asimov’s books explain the history of science in great detail. These books came with reference guides to explain the terminology in his books. Books about books, who knew!
3. Kathleen Mary Lindsay
“The logic behind the magic is that we create what we are imagining.” – Mary Faulkner, Complete Idiot’s Guide to Women’s Spirituality
Kathleen Mary Lindsay held the world record for most published books for many years. Lindsay wrote under 11 pseudonyms: Mary Faulkner, Margaret Cameron, Mary Richmond, Molly Waring, Betty Manvers, Elizabeth Fenton, Nigel Mackenzie, and Hugh Desmond. The Guinness Book of World Records reports that Faulkner has a total of 904 books.
4. Jozef Ignacy Kraszewski
“I’m not a writer nor an artist. Although I write a lot and I love all the beauty – I am a man of my age, a child of my nation.” – Jozef Ignacy Kraszewski
Jozef Ignacy Kraszewski, also known as Kleofas Fakund Pasternak, published his first book in 1830. That book was one of many in Kraszewski’s collection. The author, activist, and historian published 600 books in his lifetime. He is most well-known for his work on historical Poland. There are 29 novels in the series in 79 parts.
5. Ursula Bloom
“Ann was thirty-five. What was worse, she looked thirty-five.” – Ursula Bloom, Wonder Cruise
Ursula Bloom was a British romance novelist who wrote over 500 books. She, like many others on this list, wrote under pseudonyms. Bloom said Charles Dickens influenced her to become an author. She was an avid reader as a kid and read all of his works before she was ten. In the 1920s and 30s, it wasn’t common to have a female journalist, but Bloom fought back and wrote for various newspapers and magazines.
6. Charles Hamilton
“Yarooh!” – Frank Richards, Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School
The Billy Bunter series is the humorous children’s fiction novel written by Charles Hamilton’s pseudonym, Frank Richards. The stories were initially published in a boy’s weekly story paper. Before his passing at the age of 85, he wrote about 100 million words making him one of the most prolific authors in history.
His stories were easy for kids to read, and all had a moral message; don’t smoke or gamble, be honest, and respect other races. The BBC eventually made a TV show based on the series which Hamilton wrote the scripts for.
7. Barbara Cartland
“I’ll keep going till my face falls off.” – Barbara Cartland
Well, Barbara, it turns out you kept writing even after that! Barbara Cartland was one of the most published authors and continued publishing after her death in 2000. Cartland holds the Guinness Book of World records for the most written novels in one year. She wrote roughly 23 novels each year and had a total of 723 published pieces. After she passed, they found manuscripts of a book and released it as the Barbara Cartland Pink Collection.
8. Ryoki Inoue
“Abandon inertia.” – Ryoki Inoue
Brazilian author Ryoki Inoue holds the Guinness World Record for being the most prolific author, with 1,075 books published under many pseudonyms.
Inoue would write all day and all night until he finished a book. He wrote Sequesreo Fast Food in one night. According to Ryoki.com, “In his opinion, the secret of the creative process is in 98% of sweat, 1% of talent, and 1% of luck. Moreover, discipline and application are the motive that make him to be sit in front of his computer and don’t leave until the end of his new job.”
If you ever need the motivation to finish a book or project, think about Inoue’s philosophy.
9. R.L. Stine
R.L Stine was once asked in a Goodreads forum, “On a scale of one to ten, how much do you enjoy traumatizing young children?”
R.L. Stine cooly replied, “I enjoy getting children to read. Traumatizing them is just a bonus.”
The infamous author of the Goosebumps series and Fear Street series, Stine has 157 books posted on his website. At one point, it was said that Stine wrote one book every two weeks. Stine is still at it and has a writing program for aspiring young authors. Visit his website for more information.
10. Corín Tellado
“Some months, the censors rejected four novels. I told things clearly. Censorship taught me to imply things.” – Corín Tellado
Romance author Corín Tellado from Spain held the world record for having sold the most books written in Spanish. Tellado published over 5,000 titles selling more than 400 million books.
Tellado stood out amongst all other romance novelists because she didn’t fall into the trap of happy endings with all of her books. In the 70s, her novels raised a few eyebrows as they tackled tough subjects amid the women’s rights movement.
11. Jane Austin
“Laugh as much as you choose, but you will not laugh me out of my opinion.”
Jane Austen is one of the most well-known English writers ever. She is regarded by many as being second only to Shakespeare in her crafty use of language. What makes her story even more incredible is that she was at a disadvantage against all the other authors, because she was born a woman. Yet, she overcame adversity and cultural shackles to become the most iconic novelist that the English ever produced.
12. Enid Mary Blyton
“The best way to treat obstacles is to use them as stepping-stones.”
Enid Mary Blyton is credited with writing over 800 different books for children. One report claims that she has a higher number of cumulative book sales than even J.K. Rowling herself. Although this might have changed even as you are reading this sentence, because Rowling has continued writing.
Unfortunately, Blyton died in 1986, at the age of 71, but her stories remain forever popular with children, going so far as being translated into over 90 languages.
13. Jacob Neusner
“Do not let people put you down. Believe in yourself and stand for yourself and trust yourself.”
Jacob Neusner has some of the most neglected works that made rounds across the world. His books were centered on practicing Judaism during the Mishnaic and Talmudic eras. He has over 950 books to his name, which he was involved in either directly writing them or editing the drafts. Most of his books are around 400 pages, which displays the sheer magnitude of research that must have gone into writing them.
Writing completely non-fiction takes up a lot more time because of the research required. Thus, the amount of time Jacob spent writing his books was most likely far longer than that of any of his fiction writing peers.
14. John Creasey
“Never buy an editor or publisher a lunch or a drink until he has bought an article, story or book from you. This rule is absolute and may be broken only at your peril.”
John Creasey is one of the most interesting mysteries revolving around great writers. Legend has it that he was rejected 768 times before he got his first approval from a publishing firm for his book. He then went on to write more than 600 books. However, he did so using 28 different pseudonyms. Hence, there’s some conflict over the exact number that can be credited to him. He’s majorly focused on Westerns but was an avid romance writer and produced several novels using the pseudonym “Margaret Cooke.”
15. Georges Joseph Christian Simenon
“Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness. I don’t think an artist can ever be happy.”
Georges Joseph Christian Simenon is a writer of over 200 novels written using his name and has more than 300 books written under at least 12 different pseudonyms. Simenon’s niche was detective novels, and his unique talent was in the psychological aspects of the novels themselves. His best-known work is Inspector Maigret. His writing had more intuition than deductive reasoning in solving crimes, something which greatly resonated with the audience.
16. Alexandre Dumas
“All human wisdom is contained in these two words – Wait and Hope”
Alexandre Dumas wrote 277 books. Dumas had reportedly told Napoleon the Third that he had written over 1,200 volumes. What sets him apart is that he is more openly known to be associated with various collaborators. This makes it very challenging to give an actual number containing the exact number of works Dumas was involved with.
However, in the old days, authors often took multi-volume novels to be individual books in themselves, instead of the continuity of one book. Therefore, Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, although technically one book now, had been counted as separate volumes back in his day.
17. Charles Dickens
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
Charles Dickens was undoubtedly an extraordinary writer. His major acclaim to fame was his works as an incredible novelist. He produced many classics during his day, for instance, Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, Bleak House, Great Expectations, and many more. Unarguably, all of the novels that he wrote can be very easily considered to be English classics.
18. Jules Verne
“Anything one man can imagine, other men can make real.”
A French poet, a novelist, and a playwright; Verne rightfully earns his place on this list. His novels add a futuristic adventurous overtone to them, which is greatly appreciated by his audience. Being called the “father of science fiction,” Verne has played an insurmountable role in the development of the infrastructure for science fiction writing.
One of the most interesting parts about his novels is their ability to predict the technology of the future. Several things described in Verne’s novels have now become a reality, long after his sad demise.
19. Lewis Caroll
“If you don’t know where you are going any road can take you there.”
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is an English classic that is widely popular throughout the world; it has been adapted into many plays and even several blockbuster films. Lewis Carroll, was the genius behind this wonderful story.
In his day, he was far more than just a novelist; an English academic, Caroll was both a mathematician, and an Anglican deacon on the side.
As if Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland wasn’t enough, Caroll went on to write the hit sequel Through the Looking-Glass. The most notable aspects of his work were his genius wordplay, apparently nonsensical logic, and the fantastical imagination. He quite literally invented the entire genre of literary nonsense.
20. Emily Dickinson
“That it will never come again is what makes life sweet.”
Emily Dickinson never received the fame she deserved during her lifetime. However, now she is recognized by notable poets and literarians throughout the world as one of the most influential representatives of the American culture.
Her voice, which reverberated through her poetry, has been a source of inspiration for many other authors, most notably, the Brontes. In 1994, she was enlisted among the 26 pivotal writers of the Western civilization by literary critic Harold Bloom. Tragically, it was only after her death that her sister found the literary equivalent of Atlantis in the form of some two thousand poems Emily had composed.
21. Rabindranath Tagore
“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”
Was the first ever non-European lyricist who won the Nobel Prize in literature. A Bengali polymath, Tagore was a writer, composer, poet, social reformer, playwright, philosopher, and even a painter.
He is largely credited for outrightly reshaping Bengali literature. Through music and art, Tagore brought Contextual Modernism to India during the late 19th century.
He wrote novels, short stories, poems, drama, essays, and songs, all in Bengali. He later translated them into English himself.
To make an idea of how prolific his artistic life was, know that he wrote approximately 2,232 songs and over 50 volumes of poetry, not to mention the plethora of drama plays.
WOW! That’s a lot of books to add to your 2022 reading goal. Don’t think you can do it? Well, you can with the skill of speed reading. Learning to speed read can increase your productivity skills too. Enjoy all these books, all while becoming a more productive professional. Check out all of our courses to learn more.
Did we miss anyone? Let us know in the comments!
- Tom A.September 13, 2022 You missed Walter B. Gibson, who wrote 280+ Shadow novels (two a month for years), and about 100 other books.
- Richard Helms August 18, 2022 Need to add Robert J. Randisi to this list. He wrote 27 novels in 1984 alone, has over 500 published Western titles, and over 150 private eye novels. His nickname is “The Last of the Pulp Authors”. He has had at least one book published every month since 1982. Earned the Lifetime Achievement Award for both the Private Eye Writers of America, and the Western Fictioneers. He has over 650 books in print.
- A Phillips August 18, 2022 Jane Yolen is way past 400 published books, for children, YA, and adults, and poetry.
- Zachary April 18, 2022 Erin hunter had a lot of books to if she’s not compared to these authors. (I had to count all 152 of them)
- Tufail August 31, 2021 The Shi’a scholar Seyyed Muhammad Shirazi wrote more than a thousand books.
- Papa August 4, 2021 Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba was the most prolific writer of all time.
- Adam G July 8, 2021 As much as I despise his Scientology/Dianetics work, L. Ron Hubbard was the record holder for years. He has over one thousand books published. I don’t understand why authors with 500 books are listed but he isn’t. This list isn’t very complete nor comprehensive.
Best-Selling Authors of All Time
Below are the 10 best-selling authors of all time.
1. William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)
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.
2. Agatha Christie (1890 – 1976)
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.
3. Barbara Cartland (1901 – 2000)
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 – )
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)
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 starring Elvis 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.
9. J.K. Rowling (1965 – )
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.