15 authors who published best-selling books when they were teenagers

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty ImagesActor Matt Dillon and the author of ‘The Outsiders,’ S.E. Hinton.
  • These best-selling authors were published when they were still teenagers.
  • S.E. Hinton published her seminal novel, “The Outsiders,” when she was 18.
  • Kody Keplinger worked on her debut novel, “The Duff,” when she was still in high school.
  • Visit Insider’s home page for more stories.

Sometimes success comes early in life, and that’s true in the literary world, too.

These authors were published while they were still in, or had barely left, high school, and many people went on to read their works or see the film adaptations.

Here are 15 authors who published best-selling books when they were teenagers.


Kody Keplinger wrote the best-selling novel “The Duff” when she was still in high school.

David Livingston/Getty ImagesKody Keplinger.

The book, which explores societal pressures and labels, follows a high schooler named Bianca who discovers she’s been labelled “The Duff” or Designated Ugly Fat Friend.

According to the New York Post, Keplinger got the idea for her novel when she overheard a group of teens in the cafeteria. Keplinger wrote the book when she was 17, and it was published by the time she was 19.


S.E. Hinton was also in high school when she wrote the seminal novel “The Outsiders.”

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty ImagesMatt Dillon and S.E. Hinton.

Hinton was still a teenager herself when writing about tension between the working class greasers and the wealthy Socs, according to the New Yorker. The novel was published when the author was 18. It was turned into a 1983 film starring C. Thomas Howell, Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, and Patrick Swayze.


Helen Oyeyemi was only 18 when she wrote “The Icarus Girl.”

Colin McPherson/Corbis via Getty ImagesHelen Oyeyemi.

Published when she was 19, the novel follows a girl, who lives in England, as she explores her Nigerian roots and heritage.


Christopher Paolini self-published his fantasy novel “Eragon” at 19.

William Campbell/Corbis via Getty ImagesChristopher Paolini

According to Today.com, Paolini started working on his debut novel at 15 years old. The novel was discovered by author Carl Hiaasen and picked up by Random House’s Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers in 2003. Paolini later wrote three sequels in the series.


Stefan Bachmann’s book about fairies called “The Peculiar” was published when he was 19.

FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty ImageStefan Bachmann.

According to his author’s page, Bachmann has written several books since including “A Drop of Night” and “The What Not.” In addition to being an author, Bachmann has degrees in music composition and theory.


Susan Hill’s “The Enclosure” was also published when the author was 19.

Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesSusan Hill.

Her debut novel, which is about a married, middle-aged couple, was written when she was still a student at 15. One of Hill’s most famous works is “The Woman in Black,” which was turned into a film adaptation starring Daniel Radcliffe.


Alexandra Adornetto published an entire fantasy series and started another before she was 20.

Fairfax Media via Getty ImagesAlexandra Adornetto.

Both “The Shadow Thief” and its sequel, “The Lampo Circus,” debuted when Adornetto was 15. She released the third book in the trilogy a year later. When she was 18, she published the first instalment in the popular “Halo” series.


John Steptoe worked on his first picture book, “Stevie,” at 16 and had it published three years later.

Bob Peterson/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty ImagesJohn Steptoe.

The entirety of his book, which follows the beginning of a friendship between two children, was published in Life Magazine. Steptoe wrote several more children’s books, but he passed away in 1989 at age 38.


Flavia Bujor was just 14 years old when her book “The Prophecy of the Stones” was published.

FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty ImagesFlavia Bujor.

According to Today.com, Bujor began writing the story about a hospitalized girl imagining a fantasy quest when she was just 12. The book made it onto bestseller lists in Europe when Bujor was 15.


When he was 19, Ned Vizzini published his memoir, “Teen Angst? Naaah.”

Linda Rosier/NY Daily News Archive via Getty ImagesNed Vizzini.

The author was popular for his novel “It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” which was turned into a film, but it was his memoir that was his big break into the industry, according to the New York Times. Vizzini passed away at age 32 in 2013.


The Netflix film “The Kissing Booth” was based on a novel by Beth Reekles, which debuted when she was 17.

Marcos Cruz/NetflixA scene from the Netflix adaptation.

According to the Atlantic, Reekles’ novel debuted online on a story-sharing site called Wattpad, where it got 19 million views and was picked up by Random House Children’s publishers. Reekles received a three-book deal.


Isabel Kaplan signed her first book deal at 16 for “Hancock Park,” which was published when she was 19.

Liz O. Baylen/Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesIsabel Kaplan.

Kaplan first pitched a novel when she was 12, but didn’t acquire the book deal until four years later, according to the LA Times.


Samantha Shannon secured a seven-book publishing deal when she was 17.

Roberto Ricciuti/Getty ImagesSamantha Shannon.

As previously reported by Business Insider’s Aly Weisman, the “Bone Season” author acquired a six-figure deal before she turned 20.


Prolific author Gordon Korman released multiple books before he was 20.

Brian Pickell/Toronto Star via Getty ImagesGordon Korman.

According to Scholastic, his first book, “This Can’t be Happening at Macdonald Hall!” was published when he was 14. Since then, Korman has written over 80 books.


Lucy Saxon’s novel “Take Back the Skies” was published when she was 19.

Will Ireland/SFX Magazine/Future via Getty ImagesLucy Saxon.

According to the Independent, Saxon’s father introduced her to her literary agent after she wrote her debut novel in three weeks at 16.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.