Forbes’ Top Earning Authors: A Numerical Analysis

Forbes has published a list of the year’s highest-paid authors, and it’s a rather illuminating look at the way that the industry works. What do we mean? JK Rowling didn’t publish anything this year, and yet she still managed to rake in $10 million. James Patterson, who tops the list at $70 million, made $500 million for his publisher over the past two years. (One of every seven books sold in the US is his.) All of the highest-paid writers are white, and none of them are under the age of 36. Want to know more? Click through for the full list, and our breakdown of the numbers.

The list:
1. James Patterson – $70 million
2. Stephenie Meyer – $40 million
3. Stephen King – $34 million
4. Danielle Steel – $32 million
5. Ken Follett – $20 million
6. Dean Koontz – $18 million
7. Janet Evanovich – $16 million
8. John Grisham – $15 million
9. Nicholas Sparks – $14 million
10. JK Rowling – $10 million


When your series sells more than 40 million copies in the US, does it really matter when a film adaptation of your work nabs the most successful first week box office return of any movie of 2010? Ask Stephenie Meyer.

By genre:
Thriller: 4
Mystery: 2
Romance: 2
YA: 2


Earlier this summer Grisham published his first thriller aimed at tweens, so there’s no telling where he’ll land on next year’s list.

By gender:
Male: 6
Female: 4


We think Stephen King is smiling because of his DC Comic series deal, a John Mellencamp musical, and a SyFy network adaptation of novella, The Colorado Kid.

By race:
White: 10


This was actually a bad year for good old JK. Can you imagine?

By age:
Under 30: 0
30-50: 3
Over 50: 7