forbes: highest earning authors


According to Forbes, 1 in every 17 novels sold in the US is written by this man, making him the highest paid author in the world.


James Patterson. Photo by Rankin

James Patterson writes about eight books a year. He works with a team of collaborators on everything from children’s books to thrillers and makes his publisher, The Hachette Book Group, about a half billion dollars a year.

! ! HALF a BILLION ! !

Even though he only pocketed a measly $70m over the last six months, this is more than enough to bump him to the top of Forbes Highest Earning Authors list.

Jim Grisham. Photo by Bebeto Matthews

Patterson is a former copywriter and says he works on his novels seven days a week, starting every day at around 5.30am and writing everything in longhand.

“I’m certainly not a world-class stylist. But the storytelling is pretty cool, and the narrative power of the stuff is usually pretty strong,” he told the Guardian two years ago. “These books are entertainments. It’s a very different process than if you’re trying to write Moby-Dick, or The Corrections. That’s painful. That’s different from very simple, plot-oriented storytelling. If I was writing serious fiction, I’d want more rest time.”

Nicholas Sparks. Photo by Matt Sayles

The last time Forbes published the list, in 2008, JK Rowling was on top having earned $300 million. The Harry Potter Authoress is now at #10 despite publishing no new novel this year.

I don’t remember where Nora Roberts fell in the 2008 roundup. But I do remember that was the first time I had ever heard of her. She’s absent from the list this year. Even though I’ve only read one of his books (The Notebook) I’ve always known about Nicholas Sparks, who chimes in this year at #9, because he’s been blogging since before blogging began, more or less, and was one of the reasons I took it up myself.

Team Edward/Jacob notwithstanding, Patterson earned almost double the amount earned by Stephenie Meyer. Meyer’s a newbie to the list but still comes in at #2, earning $40m over the period (January 1-June 1, 2010), selling 40m copies of her Twilight vampire series in the US and 100m worldwide.

Stephenie Meyer. AP Photo

The top 10 in full is:

1. James Patterson ($70m)
2. Stephenie Meyer ($40m)
3. Stephen King ($34m)
4. Danielle Steel ($32m)
5. Ken Follett ($20m)
6. Dean Koontz ($18m)
7. Janet Evanovich ($16m)
8. John Grisham ($15m)
9. Nicholas Sparks ($14m)
10. JK Rowling ($10m)

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