‘Riches’ and ‘creative writing’ are not words that many people would associate. Writers are far more notorious for their eccentricities than for their stackloads of cash. But just because something is unlikely doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. Writers can score wild book deals… and some of them do. In the wake of the Obamas’ $65 million book deal, it’s important to remember that the biggest book deals almost always go to celebrities for nonfiction works, whether those are exposés or memoirs. (For example, Hillary Clinton‘s Hard Choices sold for $14m, and Bruce Springsteen‘s Born to Run sold for $10m.) But for all the fiction writers out there… this one’s for you.
1. James Patterson ($100-150 million)
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Genre giant James Patterson is easily the most bestselling novelist in the entire world, with 114 published bestsellers and 150 total novels. Patterson, author of The President is Missing (which he co-authored with former POTUS Bill Clinton) has earned his publishers up to $250m per year—over time, that becomes an unthinkably large figure. Just how much money is that? Well, the median home price in the United States is $200,000. $1m would then be the equivalent of 5 houses… so let’s just say Patterson could buy up the whole neighborhood. Patterson’s most stunning book deal topped out at $150m, when he agreed to write seventeen thrillers in a relatively short time period. Of course, many of his works are mostly not his own work—to keep up the relentless pace of his thrillers, Patterson is “more of a brand than a writer” with an army of co-writers.
2. Ken Follett ($50 million)
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With four bestselling historical fiction works already out there, Ken Follett was a sure thing for publishers looking to make an investment. His Century trilogy (Fall of Giants, Winter of the World, & Edge of Eternity) raked in a stunning $50m, the combined total of $16.5m per book. With Edge of Eternity clocking in at 1,000+ pages, it’s incredible that Follett’s work has reached such a wide audience. Follett describes himself as writing books for book lovers—and love is exactly what he gets.
3. J.K. Rowling ($8 million)
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For those of you who are shocked not to see J.K. Rowling topping this list, keep in mind that most of her ‘Harry Potter’ contractual obligations came together well before the series became a pop culture phenomenon. Rowling earned her place on the list (and her whopping $8m) with her first book post-Hogwarts, The Casual Vacancy. The crime thriller marked a departure from her established place in children’s fantasy, but it earned excellent sales… if also mixed reviews. While Rowling doesn’t have as large a net worth as Patterson’s astronomical $700m, she frequently out-earns him on a year-to-year basis. She once had the highest net worth of any author, becoming the first novelist to earn $1 billion from book sales. Thanks to her many charitable donations, she is now a regular millionaire.
4. Tom Wolfe ($7 million)
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Sometimes publishing scores you a hit… but sometimes, it’s a hit-and-miss. Tom Wolfe, now deceased, was one of history’s greatest journalists—genius Cat’s Cradle author Kurt Vonnegut said, “he knows everything.” Wolfe was most renowned for his Bonfire of the Vanities, a portrait of Wall Street greed in 1980s New York. His novel Back to Blood, a portrayal of ambition and corruption in Cuban Miami, caught the attention of the press—but not the attention of his readers. Wolfe gained notoriety when he left his publisher of 42 years for a $7m book deal… an understandable decision, honestly. Despite the advance, Wolfe’s novel only sold 62,000 copies—with some rough math, experts confirm that this means each copy cost the publisher $112. According to the numbers, that makes this a sadder story than Wolfe’s own.
5. Abraham Verghese ($5 million)
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Abraham Verghese is seriously impressive. A physician and author, Verghese has received honors from Barack Obama; served as faculty at Stanford University; and maintained a spot as a New York Times bestselling novel for two consecutive years with the same book, Cutting for Stone. In 2013, he earned $5m when he auctioned the rights to The Maramon Convention, named for one of the largest annual Christian conventions in Asia. Was it worth it? We don’t know. Though Veghese sold the novel five years ago, there have been relatively few updates concerning its publication.
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Of course, this is a list of the craziest seven-figure book deals—it’s not a list of the world’s wealthiest authors. John Green rakes in $9m per year from his royalties, but the income didn’t come from one particular deal. It’s also significant that not all deals are publicly available. Many news outlets describe deals in terms of ‘six-figure’ or ‘seven-figure’ without specifying the precise amount. For instance, international fantasy bestseller Cassandra Clare recently got a ‘seven-figure’ deal for her upcoming adult fantasy series, but we don’t know the exact amount. Let’s not forget just how much money $1m actually is—with the median house cost of $200,000, just ONE million could buy 5 houses. Looks like this is how J.K. bought her castle…
Featured Image Via Express.co.uk