7 Authors Who Would Not Sell Today

Popularity can change with the times. Popular movies would bomb if they were released today. Fashions of yesteryear would be booed today. The same can be said for authors.

Think about it. If Moby Dick was published today, would you see it in the bestseller’s list? Probably not. The classics we have our students study today might not appeal to anyone in today’s book market. They were written for a different time and a different audience.

I conducted a rough survey on Facebook among all my friends to see who they thought were authors that would not have their works so popular in today’s world. This is a formal list, but it is one that you might agree or disagree with.

Herman Melville

This author is known for his novel, Moby Dick. He did write other books, but most people couldn’t name a single one. And most have never read Moby Dick. They know the meaning of a white whale in someone’s life, but the actual story they have never read. A few people I know who have read the book tell me it is laborious. A few might like it, but the reality is that it would not have hit the bestsellers list in today’s world.

Harper Lee

Her books are well-known. Well, at least the first one. The second one was released recently and the authorship has been called into question. Her topics are controversial and dance through hot subjects that spark wildfires even in today’s world. In today’s world, her topics are not welcomed. They show a dark side of society that many would like changed today and completely forgotten. Her works might get attention today but not as well received as one might think.

Mark Twain

Oh, the adventures Twain wrote about! They can give you a sore side with laughter or just give you a sense of enjoyment of going places you have never been. But the world he presented is seen as racist and limited through today’s eyes. His works would be rejected if published at all. While it represents the time he wrote it in, the world doesn’t want to see that anymore.

Jane Austen

This is an author that is either loved or hated. It’s amazing how so many women still love her books. There are book clubs devoted to her work and those that are similar in writing style and era. In today’s world, her style is extremely description and can be long-winded. The characters are overly dramatic. It is hard to relate to some of her characters because our world is so different.

Emily Bronte

I think you could consider Emily Bronte alongside Jane Austen in style, word usage, and dramatic scenes. Today’s world has few authors who write in such a fashion that are successful and then only with a select group of readers.

Victor Hugo

This is one author whose works are not read by many, but his stories are ingrained in our world. We all know about the Hunchback of Notre Dame, yet who has read it? Hugo is a prime example of the style of writing of the time which is full of descriptions and heavy on words. That style of writing is enjoyed only by a few in today’s world.

Leo Tolstoy

When you think of long, excessively long books, many of Tolstoy’s books appear on that list. A reader will not get through his works in a weekend much less a month. They are extensive works that describe everything in detail. His works are listed on every possible list for classical literature that should be read. But the wordiness of his works might attract only a small portion of the reading world if they were published today.

When I say that these authors would not sell in today’s world, I’m not implying their work is not good. I’m pointing out that today’s expectations of literature is different. There would be some people who would praise such work, but the mass readers more than likely would not. The styles have changed. The reading community has changed. These are classics from a by-gone era.


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