Ages of Authors When They First Publish a Bestseller

When can an author expect to publish their first bestseller? This interactive graph explores the ages of every bestselling fiction author when they first achieved New York Times bestseller status. Hover over the graph to reveal the different authors, organised by genre, and use the filters to see how average ages differ across decade, genre, and gender.

Clear Filters

Average Age

Note: We chose to examine each author’s first bestseller only as a true indicator of “when” they published a bestseller – many authors featured on here have many bestsellers, but the purpose was to look at how old they were when they first achieved this status.


Genre AvG. Age AvG. Male Age AvG. Female Age
Horror 41 38 44
Science Fiction 45 46 35
Other 46 47 45
Romance 46 47 45
Literary Fiction 47 47 46
Fantasy 47 48 47
Historical Fiction 50 49 53
Mystery/Crime 51 48 56
Thriller 52 52 52

Variance by Genre

Looking at the average age of authors by genre, horror authors are the clear winners in terms of getting bestsellers published younger. The average age for horror authors was 41.

Thriller authors had the oldest average age. The average thriller author publishes their first bestseller at 52 years old.

Gender Bias?

How do these ages differ by gender?  Actually, overall, there is no difference between the average ages of men and women when they first achieve bestseller status. The average age for both, since the list began, is 48.8 years.

The only decade with any great level of discrepancy in this regard was the 60s, where the average female was 57, and the average male 44 (a difference of 13 years.)

There is a greater discrepancy when looking at gender within certain genres, however. The mystery and crime genre produced the biggest discrepancy in gender, where males achieve bestseller status 8 years earlier on average than females (48 vs 56). Science Fiction was excluded from these results as there is only one female bestseller from this genre.

Average Age of First Time Bestselling Authors By Decade

Our research shows that authors are having to wait longer to publish a bestseller, with the average age of first time bestselling authors increasing by decade.

The average age of an author who achieves bestseller status for the first time today is 52 years, compared to 44.5 in the 50s. That’s over 7 years longer.

When Authors Get their Bestsellers

Number of New Bestselling Authors by Decade

The number of new authors publishing bestsellers seems to be increasing, too. In particular, there was a huge increase in the 2000s, with the number of new authors more than doubling from 28 in the 1990s to 61 in the 2000s.

We expect this trend to continue to rise until the end of this year.

New Authors by Decade