Almost 700 million printed books were sold in America just in 2018. According to Forbes, 10 authors are responsible for selling 30 million copies and made $312 million. The numbers are impressive, but writing a bestseller is not easy, but a selected number of high-profile writers have managed to build an empire with their writing. It doesn't mean the critics love them.
Most names on this list seem to have found the key for success and they are among the highest-earning authors for years. The secret for success seems to keep the public engaged with constant production and engaging characters.
10 Michael Wolff Net Worth: $13 million
2018 is a year that Michael Wolff will not forget. Thanks to his book Fire and Fury, he debuted the list of highest-earning authors in the world. He is also the one non-fiction writer on the list. The book brought up a lot of polemics due to its political theme and it helped to increase the sales. Just in 2018, Wolff sold $13 million in books.
The author is also negotiating a second Fire and Fury book and there are many producers interested to buy the rights for television. So it won't be a surprise if we see Michael Wolff's name in this list in the coming years.
9 Rick Riordan Net Worth: $35 million
Rick Riordan is the mind behind the Percy Jackson books. Perhaps when he was a High School teacher who was creating stories, he could not imagine he was building a worldwide phenomenon with countless fans and he would become one of the wealthiest authors in the world. He is also responsible for introducing the Greek Gods to a new generation.
According to Forbes, just in 2018, he made $10.5 million. But the money also comes from Percy Jackson licensed products and a contract with Broadway that might put the story on stages soon.
8 James Patterson Net Worth: $145 million
James Patterson seems to be used to being on top. This is the 10th time he is among the highest-earning writers, but it wasn't always like that. More than 30 publishers have declined his first novel, but he did not take no for an answer and didn't give up. Just last year he made $86 million.
His last book, The President Is Missing, is a political thriller that was written together with ex-president Bill Clinton. It was an undeniable success and in less than one year, almost 700,000 books were sold.
7 E.L. James Net Worth: $150 million
It seems that the Fifty Shades of Grey is still gaining fans around the world. Last year E.L James sold $10.5 million on books and is still one of the highest-earning writers in the world. Like it or not, E.L. James is probably the most powerful phenomenon of this decade and her characters, Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, have countless fans all over the world.
In April of this year, the writer introduced us to The Mister, her newest novel, that also goes around mysterious characters. Unfortunately, the book was smashed by the critics.
6 Dan Brown Net Worth: $178 million
Since Dan Brown released The Da Vinci Code almost 15 years ago, he became a synonym of big sales and profit for publishers. Brown later published several other editorial success like Demon and Angels and Lost Symbol. He released his newest book, Origin, in 2018 and it soon went to the first position on all bestsellers lists for weeks.
Brown is known for his mystery thrillers and just a few writers are as good with plot twists as he is. In 2018 he made $18.5 million and he has a net worth estimated on $178 million.
5 John Grisham Net Worth: $220 million
According to Publishers Weekly, John Grisham is among the 10 most popular writers in America. Unsurprisingly, he also ranked among the highest-earning authors in the world. His novels are mostly legal thrillers and he writes at least one book per year.
During an interview with The Guardian, he said he is aware that his name became a brand, but it was not planned. He just wanted to write his stories. Grisham said that he started writing during the '80s when he was still working as a lawyer and wrote his first novel as a hobby.
4 Danielle Steel Net Worth: $310 million
Her stories seem never to get old! For decades we have seen her name among bestsellers and she is still publishing books almost every year.
The combination of constant publications and a solid number of fans, make her titles a guaranteed success. And numbers can prove it; Danielle Steel has sold almost one billion books and, according to Forbes, she made $12 million (tied up with Nora Roberts). In 2019, the author published her latest novel Lost and Found. So there are high chances we are still seeing her name of the list next year.
3 Nora Roberts Net Worth: $390 Million
Nora Roberts—just like Danielle Steel—is another American editorial phenomenon. She is also one of the most productive writers in the US and has written more than 200 books and her last novel, Under Currents, being released in April. Thanks to her faithful fans, her books are often a guarantee of a bestseller to editors, even if critics don't love her.
According to Forbes, she made $14 million just in 2018, but her net worth is estimated at $390 million. Roberts is among the wealthiest self-made people in America. Beyoncé, one of the most powerful women on showbusiness, for example, has $350 million.
2 Stephen King Net Worth: $400 million
Stephen King is a name that needs to introductions. He has written more than 70 horror books and sold more than 40 million copies all over the world. As we know, his novels were adapted several times to cinema and television. It: Chapter II will be released in September of this year due to the first movie's great success — becoming the highest-grossing horror movie of all time.
All those numbers also mean a lot of money. According to Forbes, Stephen King made $27 million last year and has a total net worth evaluated on $400 million.
1 J.K. Rowling Net Worth: $1 Billion
J.K. Rowling doesn't like to talk about money, but according to Forbes, she has built an empire of $650 million. Just in 2018, she made $54 million, which puts her in the second position on this list.
Since she published her first Harry Potter book in 1997, she sold 500 million books. More than books, Harry Potter became a valuable franchise with movies, plays, a theme park, and countless other products.
She has also written the Fantastic Beasts, that also became a successful movie franchise and also has several fans around the world.