Three British writers made the list of the world’s 14 highest paid authors, with Paula Hawkins entering the table for the first time.
US author James Patterson topped the list of the world’s richest wordsmiths by some way, with the BookShots writer estimated to have earned $95m (£71.41m) pre-tax between June 2015 and June 2016, according to Forbes magazine. Altogether the top 14 scribes earned a collective $269m (£202m) in the last 12 months.
The three British authors to have made the list, which is otherwise dominated by Americans, are J K Rowling, who comes in at third place earning an estimated $19m (£14.28m) last year, Fifty Shades of Grey author E L James, who is in eighth place earning $14m (£10.52m), and Hawkins in ninth place, earning $10m (£7.52m), whose paperback of The Girl on the Train is currently enjoying a seat atop the UK book chart. The title has sold 11m copies worldwide according to the publisher, and a film adaptation of the book is out this October.
The list is compiled by Forbes by examining print, e-book and audiobook sales from Nielsen BookScan figures, considering TV and film earnings and talking to authors, agents and publishers.
Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney, whose 11th title in the series is set to be published this November, is in second place behind Patterson, who earned $19.5m last year, followed by John Grisham ($18m), Stephen King ($15m), Danielle Steel ($15m) and Nora Roberts ($15m). Sharing ninth place with Hawkins are The Fault in Our Stars creator John Green ($10m) and Veronica Roth. The Game of Thrones’ George R R Martin comes in the 10th spot, whose enterprises generated $9.5m in revenue last year, tied with Dan Brown and Rick Riordan, who also both racked up $9.5m each in sales.
Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn fell off this year's hierarchy, along with The Hunger Games' Suzanne Collins and Janet Evanovich. Meanwhile Dork Diaries writer Rachel Renée Russell and The Martian scribe Andy Weir narrowly missed the cut, according to Forbes.
Last year, research by Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) in the UK found that there was “huge inequality” in earnings between writers, with a small number – 10% - earning most of the money made by professional authors. Initial findings that the typical income for a professional author in 2013 was just £11,000, more than £5,000 below the income level considered to be a socially acceptable standard of living.
A list of the Highest Earning Authors
1. James Patterson $95m
2. Jeff Kinney $19.5m
3. J.K. Rowling $19m
4. John Grisham $18m
5. Stephen King $15m
5. Danielle Steel $15m
5. Nora Roberts $15m
8. E.L. James $14m
9. Veronica Roth $10m
9. John Green $10m
9. Paula Hawkins $10m
12. George R.R. Martin $9.5m
12. Dan Brown $9.5m
12. Rick Riordan $9.5 mil