Thriller writer James Patterson was the world’s top-earning author in 2011-12 according to Forbes magazine, with the writer earning an estimated $94m from his books in the past year.
His fortune dwarfs even the second author on the list, Stephen King, whose variety of books, including horror, fantasy and literary fiction, have earned him an estimated $39 million in the past 12 months.
American authors dominate the list, with the remainder of the top five being made up of Stephanie Plum creator Janet Evanovich in third place ($33m), legal thriller novelist John Grisham in fourth ($26m), and Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney ($25m) at number five.
Up and coming authors on the list include Hunger Games writer Suzanne Collins ($20m), and J K Rowling ($17m in the past year), who is sure to see a boost when her first novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy, is released by Little, Brown this autumn.
Forbes analysts estimate that Fifty Shades of Grey novelist E L James will be sure to figure in next year’s list, after earning more than $1m a week for her books and picking up an estimated $5m for the film rights.
The magazine said that its numbers were based on Nielsen BookScan figures plus information gleaned from authors, agents, publishers and other experts.