Your Success as a Female Author of SF & F

Your Success as a female author has challenges. One of them is to find mentors who inspire you no matter where you are in your career path. In my last two Monday posts, I shared the names of many women writers who have been very successful writing fiction. (If you missed them read “Who Does Your Greatest Success Look Like” and “Are You Aiming for Their Writing Success?”) The field of science fiction and fantasy novels has been dominated by men for a very long time. Being a female author of SF & F (science fiction and fantasy) increases the difficulty of reaching success. Yet, more and more women authors are entering the field. And many of them are flourishing. Let’s take a brief look and see if you can find a mentor or two. Perhaps you’ll find some inspiration to carry you through NANOWRIMO and the rest of your career.

Image of a person on top of the mountain, helping another climb up to the top  Your road to success as a female author of SF & F is bumpy Find inspirational mentors in this post
Find the mentors who can show you the way up to success

The Best-Selling Science Fiction by Women

The best-selling books by female author of SF & F is difficult to determine. Methods of collecting that information are so variable as to make the data useless. Turning to Ranker again, I looked up the 100 best science fiction authors. The complete list is here.

Winnowing that list down to only females yielded 38 authors. Amongst them are one or two authors you can emulate. You can read about their methods and path to success and adapt them to what you need. 

Silhouette image of two women pushing human-sized puzzle pieces together, A mentor, a successful female author of SF & F can help you put the pieces together
A mentor, a successful female author of SF & F can help you put the pieces together

The Top Female Authors of S & SF

Different measuring sticks will yield different results. But these women qualify as accomplished authors whom you can use as a role model or mentor-from-afar.

  1. Ursula K. Le Guin 
  2. Andre Norton
  3. Mary Shelley 
  4. CJ Cherryh
  5. Anne McCaffery
  6. Octavia Butler
  7. Margaret Atwood
  8. Connie Willis
  9. Lois McMaster Bujold
  10. Marion Zimmer Bradley
  11. Tanith Lee
  12. James Tiptree, Jr. AKA Alice B Sheldon
  13. Nancy Kress
  14. Julian May
  15. Sheri S. Tepper
  16. Judith Merril
  17. Kate Wilhelm
  18. Joanna Russ
  19. Nnedi Okorafor
  20. Pat Cadigan
  21. Doris Lessing
  22. Barbara Hambly
  23. Catherine Asaro
  24. Jo Walton
  25. Karen Traviss
  26. Madeleine L’Engle
  27. Kathleen Ann Goonan
  28. Nalo Hopkinson
  29. Joan D. Vinge
  30. Ann Leckie
  31. Margaret Weis
  32. Maureen F. McHugh
  33. Diana Wynne Jones
  34. Shirley Jackson
  35. Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  36. Suzanne Collins
  37. Tanya Huff
  38. Zenna Henderson

The Short List

Isn’t it sad that out of 100 authors only 38 are female? Is there a successful female author of SF & F you’d add to the list? Did you say your name? If you didn’t, read the list above again. Read the works of several of those authors. Then choose one or two as your inspiration. Aim to be on the short list.

I hope you found a female author of SF & F or two whose careers or methods will help you. In my next post, I’ll share some tips and writing processes of some of these authors.  I think you’ll find their methods and words will inspire you during NANOWRIMO and the months to come.

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