Who Are the World's Highest-Paid Authors?

Posted by Catherine on August 11, 2016
Forbes just released its annual list of the world's highest-paid authors, and together they earned a whopping $269 million over the last 12 months.

Topping the list—no surprises here—is James Patterson, whose fiercely prolific output has made the 69-year-old one of the world's bestselling author with more than 350 million books sold. Between June 2015 and June 2016, the thriller writer published more than a dozen titles and his pre-tax earnings for the year topped $94 million.

In a distant second place is children's author Jeff Kinney, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid creator, who made $19.5 million in the past year.

Coming in third is J.K. Rowling with $19 million. Continued sales of her Harry Potter books, the new play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, as well as Universal's Harry Potter theme parks contributed to her earnings.

The list was compiled using estimated income from sales of books, ebooks, and audiobooks as well as money from television and film adaptations.

Other familiar names on the list are John Grisham, Stephen King, Danielle Steele, and Nora Roberts. The only newcomer this year is Paula Hawkins, whose bestselling The Girl on the Train, and subsequent film deal, earned her $10 million.

Here is the Forbes list in full with some Goodreads suggestions from each author.


James Patterson—$95 million
Along Came a Spider
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Kiss the Girls
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1st to Die
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Bullseye
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Jeff Kinney—$19.5 million
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
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Rodrick Rules
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The Last Straw
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Old School
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J.K. Rowling—$19 million
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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John Grisham—$18 million
A Time to Kill
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The Firm
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The Client
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Rogue Lawyer
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Stephen King—$15 million
The Shining
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The Stand
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Carrie
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End of Watch
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Danielle Steele—$15 million
Safe Harbour
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Sisters
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The Gift
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The Apartment
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Nora Roberts—$15 million
Vision in White
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Born in Fire
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Blue Dahlia
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Bay of Sighs
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E.L. James—$14 million
Fifty Shades of Grey
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Fifty Shades Darker
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Fifty Shades Freed
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Grey
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Veronica Roth—$10 million
Divergent
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Insurgent
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Allegiant
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The Transfer
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John Green—$10 million
The Fault in Our Stars
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Looking for Alaska
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Paper Towns
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An Abundance of Katherines
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Paula Hawkins—$10 million
The Girl on the Train
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George R.R. Martin—$9.5 million
A Game of Thrones
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A Clash of Kings
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A Storm of Swords
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A Feast for Crows
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Dan Brown—$9.5 million
Angels & Demons
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The Da Vinci Code
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The Lost Symbol
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The Lost Symbol
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Rick Riordan—$9.5 million
The Lightning Thief
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The Sea of Monsters
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The Lost Hero
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The Hidden Oracle
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Who's your favorite highest-paid author?

Comments Showing 1-50 of 288 (288 new)


message 1: by Lynn Diane (new)

Lynn Diane Stephen King!! I also considered John Green, but the King is king!


message 2: by Wes (new)

Wes Grisham


message 3: by Larry (new)

Larry Chrispyn None of these are among my 40 favorite writers. I like Steinbeck, Tony Hillerman, Bill Bryson, David Rosenfelt and many others.


message 4: by Linda (new)

Linda Westphal Grisham and King


message 5: by Di (new)

Di I guess if you churn out books by formula and on schedule you get paid more. So many good authors that deserve more pay are missing from this list.


message 6: by Shirmela (new)

Shirmela jk...


message 7: by Oria (new)

Oria Stephen King by far.


message 8: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Breeden Dean Koontz


message 9: by Marian (new)

Marian George R.R. Martin


message 10: by Nour (new)

Nour Halaby JK


message 11: by Vyzantia (new)

Vyzantia King and Rowling, for sure.


message 12: by Halima (new)

Halima I like Danielle Steel and Nora Roberts. The Fault In our Stars being the only book I've read by Green, I don't think I can call him a favourite.


message 13: by Marzio (new)

Marzio Salamina I know it sounds snobby, but it's like music business. Audience used to address the highest remunerations towards Led Zeppelin or Beatles and now it's Britney Spears and 50 cents.
I don't mind as long as I can still get great stuff all around the advertisements. And yet it's sad how many ppl (me included) is missing the best -and most suitable to their genuine tastes- operas in favour of what industry is pushing forward.


message 14: by Jack (new)

Jack Pramitte How to remove this from my homepage?


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

None of them...... mine is Suzanne Collins for Hunger Games


message 16: by Gabriela (new)

Gabriela Silva JK for sure!


message 17: by J (new)

J I read for the story content. I occasionally scan the best sellers lists but rarely find anything that interests me. I guess I'm a bit of a rogue reader since I pretty much ignore the latest reading trends. So many if them have been disappointing. Having put that out there, I have to add that I find myself captivated by Anne Perry. Her work is consistently well done and never mind numbing. She never fails to deliver quality regardless of the genre.


message 18: by Anna (new)

Anna Di wrote: "I guess if you churn out books by formula and on schedule you get paid more. So many good authors that deserve more pay are missing from this list."

My thoughts exactly!


message 19: by CARISSA (new)

CARISSA E George R. R. Martin for sure!


message 20: by Dr Rashmit (new)

Dr Rashmit Mishra my favs are George R. R. Martin and King


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

I don't follow the best selling list of authors, what truly matters is that you enjoy what you read and that on some level the words of the author touched you.We all have different tastes and opinions that's the beauty of having free will. What one person may consider as great, another person will see it as not great. I love the variety of choosing who i like as a author, not because he or she is on the best seller's list, rather because what they wrote spoke to me. Viva la Difference!


message 22: by Carol (new)

Carol Bee From the list shown on this page I would choose Stephen King. Mind you, I find I get a bit bored after reading several books from the one author, sometimes they are too formulaic.


message 23: by John (new)

John So.... everyone who has ever made a TV or a Movie deal off their books. Good to know that's the only way to make big money as an author. *snark*


message 24: by Dana Al-Basha (new)

Dana Al-Basha دانة الباشا Where is Stephenie Meyer?!


message 25: by Erin (new)

Erin Bittner Dana wrote: "Where is Stephenie Meyer?!"

LOL


message 26: by Hafid (new)

Hafid Elouarrat Paula Hawkins FTW!


message 27: by J (new)

J Ann wrote: "I don't follow the best selling list of authors, what truly matters is that you enjoy what you read and that on some level the words of the author touched you.We all have different tastes and opini..."

Here here!


message 28: by Emily (new)

Emily I don't think some of these poeple commenting actually read the question. The question was: who is your favorite highest-paid author. For those of you who just don't seem to get it, that means, of the authors listed above, who is your favorite?

My favorites are: Riordan, Green, and Rowling.


message 29: by Martin (new)

Martin Haverholm Why is James Patterson making so much more money than number two on the list? I've hardly ever heard of him.


message 30: by J (new)

J Emily wrote: "I don't think some of these poeple commenting actually read the question. The question was: who is your favorite highest-paid author. For those of you who just don't seem to get it, that means, of ..."
Good point. Of this particular list I have read 9 of the authors. Dan Brown is the one I have read most consistently and enjoyed the most.


message 31: by Agneta (new)

Agneta Edrén Paula Hawkins


message 32: by M2squared (new)

M2squared D. Sandra wrote: "Dean Koontz"

agreed!


message 33: by Claudia (new)

Claudia J.K and Stephen King!!


message 34: by Donna (new)

Donna Bernard I have two favorites: Patterson and Grisham. Favorites not selling so many are Follette and McCullough.


message 35: by Marie-Anne (new)

Marie-Anne George Martin , J.K Rowling and Dan brown.


message 36: by Verity (new)

Verity  George R.R Martin


message 37: by Sara (new)

Sara Hernández Veronica Roth.


message 38: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Littlechild Mark Lawrence for me he writes something different. Most of the top list are mass producers 12 books in a year the quality disappears.


message 39: by Marcia (new)

Marcia JK! Obviously, Harry Potter is a one-of-a kind story that will stand the test of time, but I also LOVE her Cormoran Strike series written under the Robert Galbraith pen name. Fanatastic!


message 40: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Grisham & Martin


message 41: by Dracula (last edited Aug 12, 2016 07:22PM) (new)

Dracula Raupe I like all authors and also have all books. I want to use Kindle for book, hope free book for Kindle to all books. Than buy all the books. I like to save money. :) But Kindle is good wise and save and cheap price and also free too. Thank you for ur supports.


message 42: by Kristy (new)

Kristy My favorite of these (and just a favorite in general) is John Green. I'm a bit surprised on James Patterson, especially being the highest. I know he's very popular, but he co-writes almost all of this books with other authors (not a problem for me, just a surprise).


message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

Some of the best books I have ever read were by unknown authors who have never made it to the best selling list of books and authors. Great authors write for the joy of storytelling and passing on thier emotions and knowledge to others, not for making the best seller's list.Storytelling is a art.


message 44: by Hayley (new)

Hayley My favourites are easily J.K. Rowling and Rick Riordan... Followed closely by Veronica Roth and then John Green.


message 45: by Nikita (new)

Nikita James Patterson and Stephen King were obvious. They are very well known to everyone even if you haven't read their books. JK Rowling, yes. I knew about Danielle Steele and Nora Roberts because most of their books have been made into lifetime movies.

I am surprised that Nicholas Sparks, Stephanie Meyer (sort of) and RL Stine aren't on the list.


message 46: by Shawnie (new)

Shawnie KING, Misery is my favorite novel he's done, and of course J.K. Rowling.


message 47: by David (new)

David Schaafsma Oy, where to start, GR forcing us to focus on rich authors on our own home pages... and the relationship of the 1% authors to the rest of us who are authors and readers... though I do know they are popular, even here on Goodreads. But this is I take it an Amazon (a rich corporation) question, not a typical readerly question, as they would be concerned with books and their relationship to money more than most of us. I try to hold my nose that Goodreads is an arm of Amazon now, but sometimes that nose gets rubbed in it from time to time... Sorry for the curmudgeonly response to all who are having fun with this question, ignore me.. . .


message 48: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca That's pretty much who I expected to be at the top. No surprises there.


message 49: by Danica (new)

Danica My favourite author on this list is J.k. Rowling followed very closely by Rick Riordan.


message 50: by Igor (new)

Igor I've only tried J.Grisham out of these 14 and I was in raptures about his The Rainmaker. O, and the screen version of The Pelican Case also made the best impression, the more so with Julia Roberts and D.Washington. Naturally, I choose him. S.King is not in line with me, at least on screen.


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