Most authors struggle to make ends meet. It’s incredibly difficult to achieve success in the world of writing. However, there are many authors who rake in an eight-figure income year after year. Here we take a look at the top 10 highest paid authors in the world. Surprisingly, George RR Martin, the brain behind the hugely successful Game of Thrones, didn’t make the cut.
Ranked: The highest paid authors
The ranking below is based on ranking from Forbes‘ list of highest paid authors from June 1, 2017 to June 1, 2018. The magazine compiled the list based on data from NPD BookScan, Box Office Mojo, and interviews with industry insiders. The income figures reported by Forbes are pretax. The fees for managers, agents, and lawyers have not been deducted, which could bring down the actual income of authors.
10 (Tie)- EL James
The author of Fifty Shades of Grey earned $10.5 million in the 12-month scoring period. Her latest book Darker wasn’t as big a success, but the Fifty Shades of Grey series continues to generate a handsome income for the British author. She made most of her money from the movie Fifty Shades Freed.
10 (Tie)- Rick Riordan
The fantasy and mythology writer made $10.5 million. He shot to fame with the Percy Jackson & the Olympian series. His books have sold more than 30 million copies in the US alone. Riordan sold 2.1 million books in the US during Forbes’ 12-month scoring period.
8 (Tie)- Nora Roberts
Nora Roberts is a prolific romance writer who has penned more than 225 books. She is one of the wealthiest self-made women in the United States with a net worth of around $400 million. Nora Roberts writes some of her books under different pen names such as J. D. Robb, Jill March, and Sarah Hardesty. She made $12 million from June 1, 2017 to June 1, 2018.
8 (Tie)- Danielle Steel
Danielle Steel is the fourth bestselling fiction author of all time. She has written 179 books that have collectively sold 800 million copies worldwide. Steel made $12 million, according to Forbes. Her estimated net worth is $350 million. Her books have been translated to 43 different languages.
7- Michael Wolff
Michael Wolff is a new entrant in the list of highest paid authors. He shot to fame with his explosive bestseller Fire and Fury, which is about Donald Trump’s presidency. Wolff’s book sold 1.7 million copies in less than three weeks of launch, even though President Trump continued to criticize it. Wolff raked in $13 million in the scoring period. He has already signed deals for a Fire and Fury sequel and the book’s film and television rights.
5 (Tie)- Dan Brown
Dan Brown is one of the world’s most popular thriller novelists. His latest book Origin was an international bestseller. Three of his books have been adapted to movies. Brown teaches writing via MasterClass. He raked in $18.5 million from June 1, 2017 to June 1, 2018.
5 (Tie)- Jeff Kinney
Jeff Kinney is the author behind the insanely popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. His books have collectively sold more than 200 million copies worldwide. Kinney also runs a bookstore in Plainville, Massachusetts. His earnings stood at $18.5 million.
4- John Grisham
The attorney-turned-author earned $21 million in the 12-month scoring period. His legal thrillers have sold more than 275 million copies worldwide. At least nine of Grisham’s books have been adapted into films so far. He is one of the only three authors to have sold two million copies on a first printing.
3- Stephen King
The American horror writer brought home $27 million in the specified period. He has written more than five dozen books and 200 short stories. His books have sold more than 350 million copies worldwide. King has received numerous awards for his contribution to American literature.
2- J.K. Rowling
The creator of the Harry Potter series is second highest paid author in the world with earnings of $54 million. Her book sales have declined without a new release, but she continues to make money from theme parks, back catalog sales, and theatrical productions.
1- James Patterson
James Patterson is by far the highest paid author on the planet with earnings of $86 million. The prolific author wrote The President Is Missing in collaboration with Bill Clinton. The political thriller has turned out to be a blockbuster. It was the 10th time that Forbes declared him the highest paid author in the world.