Kamila Shamsie recently wrote an intentionally provocative piece about women being overlooked in publishing. They are not being overlooked in terms of sales: indeed, if there were a lesson to publishers: sign up more female authors.
Since 2010, this is a list female authors who have been in first place on the NYT Adult Fiction Bestseller list for at least four weeks. (Book, author, number of weeks).
The Help, Kathryn Stockett, 21 weeks
Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen, 8 weeks
Fifty Shades of Grey, E. L. James, 29 weeks
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn, 7 weeks
The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt, 4 weeks
Girl on a Train, Paula Hawkins, 15 weeks (plus? - currently second)
Compared to the males.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, Stieg Larsson, 9 weeks
Safe Haven, Nicholas Sparks, 7 weeks
Inferno, Dan Brown, 6 weeks
Sycamore Row, John Grisham, 7 weeks
This is the June 7, 2015 NYT Adult Fiction, Top 15 Bestsellers List (10 of 17 authors/co-authors are women)
1 Radiant Angel, by Nelson Demille.
2 The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins.
3 Piranha, by Clive Cussler and Boyd Morrison.
4 All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr.
5 Memory Man, by David Baldacci.
6 14th Deadly Sin, by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro.
7 Luckiest Girl Alive, by Jessica Knoll.
8 The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah.
9 A Match for Marcus Cynster, by Stephanie Laurens.
10 The Marriage Season, by Linda Lael Miller.
11 Mended, by Sydney Landon.
12 Beautiful Sacrifice, by Jamie Mcguire.
13 Gathering Prey, by John Sandford.
14 The House We Grew up In, by Lisa Jewell.
15 Against the Tide, by Kat Martin.
David Baldacci, James Patterson (68), John Sandford (71), Nelson Demille (71) and Clive Cussler (83) all have decades of building a readership. The young turks are the female authors. The lesson here to publishers is: ignore women at your peril.