13 Top Selling Black Authors

85 Comments
August 4, 2010 ‐ By TheEditor

by Anton Polouektov

Spanning a variety of genres and sub-genres, African-American and/or Black literature is best seen as an umbrella term that defines not only the ethnic background of the authors but also a commitment to putting out a message that is relevant both within and outside the Black community. Readers may not agree with everyone whose name is on this list as the best representation of the genre, but these 13 authors are some of the best selling black authors of the past few years and they certainly have offered works that appeal to mainstream audiences.  So, as you can tell, this list hinges on book sales, rather than critical reviews. Without further ado, here are the 13 Black fiction and non-fiction writers who have enjoyed widespread popularity and “bestseller” status over the course of the last five years.

Teri Woods

"Terri Woods"

Before she hit big as part of the “street lit” trend, Teri Woods was hustling. Her spirits were not dampened when her first book was rejected by a publisher. Instead, her entrepreneurial talents kicked into overdrive as she resolved to affirm herself as an author first by selling self-made copies of her book from her car’s trunk and later by establishing her own publishing house. Her instincts, it turned out, were on point, as her gritty urban novels quickly found a ready audience, establishing a wide reader base that propelled her to bestseller status. Woods’ writing skills and business acumen make her a force to be reckoned with on the literary arena.

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  • knowledgable man

    how did you idiots skip Toni Morrisson and Alice Walker?

    • kecialyons@gmail.com

      As I watch this show} I see a lot women friends who turn on each other at drop of a dime? They can’t be trusted: with a friendship of mines… 2 faced- is what I see about the show says it all!!!

  • Soundjata

    That wasn’t very inspiring to this Black male who wants to write fiction. At least if I get published I won’t have much competition (sigh).
    Wish me luck.

    • maat

      vIctor lavalle…

  • Charmayne Joseph

    Thanks for this list! I was suprised to see that no one else has commented before me…hmm not comment on the stereotype of black people not reading LOL! I will definitely be downloading some of these author’s books to my kindle for some summer reading!

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  • Jason

    Why is everyone taking such offense? Obviously you didnt read the heading well. It says "Top Selling" authors, and does not imply that these are the best authors.

  • New MRs

    Where is Langston Hughes, Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hourston, Richard Wright… come on now.. these books sold!!!! Real writers… Superhead? who purchased that book besides ballers and their wives trying to maker sure they're listed or not? really!!!

  • Ann

    I made a typo about the number of Frank Yerby's books. It was 33, not 35. That's still a lot of books, though. :)

  • Geena G

    This is a partial list people. There are probably other Black Authors that sells really well that have not made the list. Why not give props to some of the lesser known authors? Everyone already knows of Toni Morrison & Terry McMillan, etc…. On a different note, I have been picking up work by Black Authors this summer. I've only recently read E. Lynn Harris (Mama Dearest/Basketball Jones). Knew of him, but was more into historical & political stuff. Currently reading, Valerie Wilson's Of Blood & sorrow. Great writer. I find it difficult to put books by Black Authors down once I get started. It's something about the way they write, you know, the language, the slang. Very real!

  • kieraa

    where is the phenomenal Wahida Clark on this list!?!?

  • kel

    where is my homeboy Omar Tyree?

  • ndenise81

    Even if you are talking books that SELL, I know Superhead didnt sell more books than Terri McMillan!

    • Michelle

      True but her ex has giving motr headmthen super head

    • Michelle

      True but her ex has given more head then super head.

  • Kimmie

    I have a list of my own. The following are the top 5 Black Authors you probably haven't read, but definitely should:

    1) Deidre Berry: "The Next Best Thing"

    2) Lawrence Hill: "Someone Knows My Name"

    3) Kevin Liles: "Make It Happen"

    4) Ray Shell: "Iced"

    5) Jacqueline Powell: "Someone To Catch My Drift"

  • Christine

    I agree with LJ. The article is titled "13 Top Selling Black Authors" not the "Best Black Authors Of All Time"

    Still, it's hard to belive that "Super Hoe" has sold more books than Terry McMillan who is over 20 years deep in the game. *side-eye* at whoever put together this list. BOOOOOOO!!!!!

  • http://www.swaggtalk100.net webmistress

    Looks liek everybodies getting their write on! Keep on writing it takes guts to put your stories and sometimes life out there like that. I will be checking out a fe wof these authors i have'nt heard of before.

  • cookie monster

    not from ATl, just has a house there

  • Kimberly Lewis

    What about Terri McMillian – Wiating to Exhale and so on and on

  • Michelle

    I still take offense to Karine Superhead being called an author that's like calling Sarah Palin a politician.

  • Ms. Bjones

    And why is Superhead on this list?! What kind of society do we live in? Why did people buy this trash, read something real beside about this women and men in the industry.

  • L J

    The list was not composed of the top 13 black authors, but the top 13 "selling" black authors…there is a difference…

  • tahra

    Were is NORIE? she is a great writter you have people on here that have not written a book in such a long time mins Zane

  • Seriously

    Teri Woods is not even an author. So how did she make the list???

  • nichelle

    Obviously most of you are not all that literate. This is a list of top sellers. THESE PEOPLE SOLD THE MOST BOOKS….period. It is not a commentary on the quality of the book or validity of the author. It cannot be changed because it is base on hard statitistics, not opinion. Of course Terry McMillan and Toni Morrison are intellecually superior to K. Steffans, but they have not sold as many books lately.

  • LOLLIPOPPER

    WOW SUPAHEAD MADE THIE LIST……….HOW SAD ….Stop BUY GOSSIP FOR ENTERTIANMENT PEOPLE……..WE WHAT PEOPLE LIKE BEBE CAMPBELL MOORE AND KIKI SWINSON AND WHAHIDA CLARK>>>>>AND THE LIST GOES ON…..I CAN GET WITH EVERYONE ON THE LIST >>>BUT SUPAHEAD>>>>>>JUST CANYT SEE IT…….THAT CRAP AINT LIT AT ALL……

  • http://anythingforsasuke.wordpress.com anythingforsasuke

    Karrine Steffans is a fantastic writer. It's not just about the fact that she wrote a book about sleeping with a bunch of celebrities, the execution of the book was very well done. She's a ho but she is a literate ho'. Damn, give shorty some props!

    I do agree though that there is a lot of equally wonderful writers who did not make this list. A few artist admittedly. I'm confused about.

  • bre

    wth no Sista Souljah

  • http://www.millerscribs.com Minnie E

    "…Black literature is best seen as an umbrella term that defines not only the ethnic background of the authors but also a commitment to putting out a message that is relevant both within and outside the Black community…"

    Relevant to me and my community? What a dismal picture.

  • http://www.millerscribs.com Minnie E

    Are these authors' work based on sales? And "bestseller" on whose list or in what group? Funny, but I haven't read any of these writers' books, with the exception of West and Tavis. I'm an avid reader and writer. No, I not a "bestseller" author.

  • Kay

    Most of the ones some of the commenters mentioned have sold lots of books. So I don't know if that's the criteria for this list or not. As many books as Karrine has sold, I doubt if she's sold as many as Brenda Jackson, the queen of romance.

  • the reason we all fa

    clearly this list is the best selling authors in the past couple of years, not of all time. We are so quick to "hate" and judge as a people. Superhead Steffans is on the list because your everybody including your fav rapper bought her book. It might not have been written by a so called "real author" but you see a couple people like it lol. It's real simple, rebuy the classic's and put your fav author up there for next year.

  • pam w

    I DON'T KNOW WHO CAME UP WITH THIS LIST BUT IT'S OBVIOUS THEY DON'T READ MUCH OR ONLY WROTE ABOUT AUTHOR THAT HAVE MADE A HEADLINE , PLEASE ALTHOUOGH THERE A FEW GOOD ONE ON THAT LIST DIG DEEPER AND DON'T INSULT OUR PEOPLE, GREAT AUTHOR OR REAL READERS! btw CHECH OUT THE NATIONAL BOOK CLUB CONFRENCE IN ATL.NEXT TIME YOU NEED TO FIND SOME TOP SELLING AUTHORS

  • Michelle

    LMAO Karine Steffans an author got real. Who in th he!! made this list?

  • http://lyricallycryss.wordpress.com CryssRenee

    I COULD CARE LESS ABOUT THE LAST FIVE YEARS, TO EVEN PUT KARRINE STEFFANS ON THIS BOOK IS A SLAP IN THE FACE TO ALL THE REAL AUTHORS OUT THERE. HAVE WE REALLY NO SHAME, SHE IS NOT AND WILL NOT EVER BE A REAL AUTHOR. TELL THE TRUTH AND SHAME THE DEVIL. AND FOR THE RECORD E. LYNN HARRIS WAS ON THE NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLERS LIST WITHIN THE LAST FIVE YEARS!!!!!

  • SD

    What about Norma Jarrett ( Sunday Brunch)

  • tj

    Once again some of us are missing the point. Within the last five years these "writers" sold a lot of books to us and mainstream America. If your favorite writer isn't on the list is because only you and a small number of of people bought the book.

  • Observant Negress

    Um…this is the TOP SELLING Black Authors List, not the "Most Popular Black Author's List. So, it looks like Sista Souljah, Eric J. Dickey, et al didn't sell enough books to make the list.

    Although I am supporter of libraries and recommend using them, if you really want "your" author to show up on such a list: buy the book(s).

    Be Observant.

    • So true

      People wonder why their favorite author is not a top seller, while they are BORROWING their books. Now, that's the joke!

  • Kay

    I'm an avid reader but some of the authors on this list I have never heard or only have one book. I wonder what stats were used to compile this list because it seems quite a few what most would consider "best-selling" authors were left off this one.

  • Reecee

    Where in the Heck is Kimberla Lawson Roby on this daggone list!

  • SHEENA

    GOOD LIST I LOVE ZANES BOOKS AND GIRL YOU A FREAK. DIDNT MICHAEL BAISDEN HAVE LIKE ONE BOOK OUT? SMH

  • WTH…?!?!?!

    Superhead?!?!! Michael Baisden?!?!?!? I'm just lost for words…*SMDH*

  • renee

    Are you for real Karrine Steffans then any ho off the street can right about who they **** and get paid she not a true writer, name should not be on the list of anything positive.

  • Royal Chocolate

    I agree with most of the previous posts. There are many, many, many authors that were intentionally omitted from this list.

    Next time, do more research to include a wider range of authors. The list represents a complete lack of time and effort on your part.

    It's a good thing those making comments on this list appear to be well-rounded readers or a lot of good reading would be missed.

  • Kprice

    This is more of a political list than one of best AA authors. Carl Weber, EJD, Terry MacMillan, E. Lynn Harris, Toni Morrison, Brenda Jackson, and Tananarive Due–need I say more?

  • Tifani

    Mary Monroe, Donald Groines, Pearl Cleage, Vicky Stringer, Carl Weber and my girl Mary B Morrison! "superhead" is NOT an Author, just an hoe w/a book deal.

    • Dena

      Tifani,

      I'm still laughing at your comment but it's so true "hoe with a book deal" is 100% true. That's all she is.

  • E

    this list is kind of an embarrassment to black authors as a whole.

  • AF

    This is a list of best SELLERS. This is not about personal opinion, but about numbers.

  • http://antiintellect.wordpress.com FEMINIST FAMU

    You mean to tell me this list does not include Pulitzer and Nobel prize winning novelist Toni Morrison?

    What a joke.

  • ChiChiBoo

    Im sorry but there are waayyy more than 13 top selling black authors aside from those mentioned above (E. Lynn, EJD, etc.) What about L.A. Banks, Brenda Jackson, Beverly Jenkins, Adrianne Byrd, Niobia Bryant, Walter Mosely, Tracey Brown,? Appearently the person who comprised this list only read these books. Do more research people!!!

  • AngelaV

    Just read the article folks. If you want to add to the list, say so with grace, no condemnation. Let's stop bashing one another at every turn. Next time try- I also think there were some authors that were missed. They include;

  • Alimah

    Superhead!?! First off how do you put her & Mya Angelou in the same article?

    && No Sista Soulja !?! SMH. Proud to be from Brooklyn!!!!

  • Erika

    It has come to be a sad day when Karrine Steffans makes a top 10 best seller list. I agree with many of the others, where are the Authors that have helped make and mold african american literature as well as maintained a top status? To be rather frank if you asked 200 african american males/female to list their top 10 authors, I seriously doubt many of those above would make the top 5. Not because they are not good Authors but because their following is not as profund.

  • Michele

    A list without Francis Ray is no list at all….Pooh on this list. Corrine Steffens??? What a joke!

  • brittany

    Why is Karine Stephens on here and not: Brenda Jackson, Francis Ray, Kayla Perrin, or Rochelle Alers?

    • Kay

      I agree. Brenda Jackson and Francis Ray should have been on this list.

  • Essence

    I can't believe that Karine Stephens (aka SUPERHEAD) made this list ahead of the likes of E. Lynn Harris, Eric Jerome Dicky and Terry McMillan. I agree with 70% of this list of top sellers.

  • Lunden

    This is ATL post's list…so its subjective

    Baisen has great insight on the mind of a black man and his internal struggles. Loved Men Cry in the Dark and God's Gift to Women

  • maximum

    Hey! how comes my boy Eric Jerome Dicky didn't make the list. Thats not fair. He is also good author to me and should've made this list. That's my opinion.

  • da real one

    where is the late e. lynn harris, eric jerome dickey, toni morrison, terry mcmillian, pearl cleage, please tell where are these authors who have had books that hit the new time best sellers list at #1 and top 5 consistently, not like authors in your list who had one book that was a hit and the others books afterwards went nowhere or dust

    • J

      Exactly! Where are these writers on the list?

  • MsDtown

    Where is L.A. Banks on this list?

    • Jan

      I know right? Where in the HECK is L.A Banks on this list? I have all of the Vampire Huntress Legend books and other series' she has done. I am also about to get that new Graphic Novel based on the Vampire Huntress Ledgend books that came out July 2010. What balck author you know gettin' graphic novel deals with Marvel? Huh? Ya'll betta recognize!!!

    • https://www2.xlibris.com/bookstore/bookdisplay.aspx?bookid=80616 Lloyd A.

      Where is the Young Team (Lloyd Young, Jr Lloyd A. Young Keon Young and Sean Young)?

      Summary Brother to Brother:

      Motivation for Young African-American Men is an anticipated bestseller for 2010. This book is a much needed tool to encourage young men to live up to their God-given potentials.

      Brother to Brother

      provides thought provoking quotes from various individuals on an array of topics: Education, Family, Fatherhood, Manhood, and Spirituality. Each segment is preceded by an essay relating to the chapter’s subject matter. The Young men, the authors, have an established record of working with men, young and old helping them recognize their potential. The authors have reached out to other African-American men to be mentors through writing.

      Brother to Brother:

      Motivation for Young African-American Men is expected to be one of the top motivational books of its kind. Whether you are a young man or working with young African-American males, this book is a great addition to your resources for living a purposeful life. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to be motivated to “grow into the crown that has been placed above your head.”

      https://www2.xlibris.com/bookstore/bookdisplay.as

    • L T

      I was thinking the same thing.

    • Kevinita Jackson

      I would really like to see L.A banks on the list. I have read Vampire Huntress three time in the past 7 months. I am waiting for the new book in August. But it says best seller and you can believe that many more people bought Karine steffens because of the content in her books. People only bought it to be noisy.

    • O

      can yal read, really? how yal read all them books if yal cant read the headline? its not bout who u like but SELLS…

      • Kevinita Jackson

        That is the point. The books sold more because of teh content. It does not worry who wrote teh book that is why they have editors. there are a lot of peopel that do not read. For those who do read we should buy the books of the ones we like. i ahve decided to read some of teh book form authors that have been written. I prefer not to read something that makes women look really stupid. Maybe next time it will look better.

  • Queen

    Two words.
    Donald Goines