The 10 Highest-Earning Authors of the Year

Being a “starving artist” isn’t for everyone. And as it turns out, writing great books can be a pretty lucrative pastime. For proof, just take a look at the list that Forbes has put together. They’ve ranked the year’s top earning authors, and the amount of money involved is breathtaking. Check out our reactions to this year’s list below. 

10. John Grisham, $14 million

Grisham’s earnings from his latest novel, Gray Mountain, combined with royalties from his back catalog help him make the cut as one of the year’s ten highest-earning authors. Sales show that Grisham’s crime stories remain popular for years after their publication. That’s good, because Grisham’s one-book-per-year writing pace is fairly slow compared to some of the prolific authors on this list.


9. Nora Roberts, $18 million

Nora Roberts’ latest book has not sold very well, but her massive back catalog (well over 200 books) keeps selling at a decent clip. With her classics still flying off the shelves, Roberts seems to have cemented her place among the world’s top-earning authors for at least a few more years.


7. (tie) Stephen King, $19 million

Horror writer Stephen King makes so much money, it’s scary. Forbes notes that King’s earnings are down compared to prior years, but even “declining” King earnings land him the number seven slot. When $19 million is a “bad” year, you know that you’re pretty good at your job.


7. (tie) J.K. Rowling, $19 million

No new Harry Potter books, no problem! J.K. Rowling is still one of the highest-earning authors on the planet. Writing as Robert Galbraith, Rowling has built a second career as a crime fiction writer.


6. Janet Evanovich, $21 million

Evanovich is known for her excellent Stephanie Plum mystery series. She’s also a prolific writer who puts out several books a year. So it’s no mystery that Evanovich earned more than $20 million this year!


5. Jeff Kinney, $23 million

Jeff Kinney is the author of the Wimpy Kid series. His ability to connect with young readers has made him a millionaire many times over. Kinney is the top-earning children’s author on this list.


3. (tie) Danielle Steel, $25 million 

According to Forbes, much of Steel’s income comes from hefty advances on her novels. And she publishes a lot of them, having written nearly 100 since her debut in the 1970s. With the extra money coming in from her back catalog, Steel will continue to earn big bucks for years to come.


3. (tie) Veronica Roth, $25 million

Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy has made her an incredible amount of money, and most of her career still lies ahead of her. Roth is only 26, making her the youngest author on the top earners list. It will be exciting to see where she goes next with her career!


2. John Green, $26 million

Green’s $26 million is nowhere near what the top-earning author on this list brings home, but it’s still a huge chunk of change. Green leads a group of young adult authors who are invading the top earners list. As Forbes points out, the industry is seeing more and more millionaire young adult writers.


1. James Patterson, $89 million 

You can’t say that James Patterson doesn’t earn his industry-leading paycheck. He cranks out more than a dozen books a year (with coauthors, of course – the man isn’t a machine.) Patterson is also known for his generosity, so we can’t think of anyone who better deserves the top spot on this list.

John Green featured image courtesy of