It is not easy to make a fortune as a writer. However, it doesn’t mean it is impossible. During decades names like Stephen King, Daniele Steel, and Nora Roberts are considered by Forbes to be some of the highest-earnings authors in the world. Their novels are considered a synonym of high-profit for the publishers.
However, the internet has also changed this market. Since some years ago, the public has seen talented writers who self-published their books online and are making a fortune. Some of them were rejected many times by traditional publishers. Here is a list of people who wrote themselves into the millionaire’s club.
10 Michael J. Sullivan - $1 million
In 2008, Michael J. Sullivan decided to publish his fantasy series Riyria Revelations and sold 90 thousand books. The amazing amount increased his value on the market, and, in 2011, he signed a half-million contract with Orbit Books. He understands the difference between both markets.
“I’m a huge fan of self-publishing and know very well about how financially lucrative it can be,” Sullivan told the blog Dribble of Ink. “For my traditionally published works, my reason for signing has always been to take my career to the next level.”
9 Diane Setterfield - $ 1 million
Diane Setterfield saw her life turn upside down when her first novel The Thirteenth Tale became the New York Times number 1 best-seller in 2006. She used to be a private French teacher, and, after her success, she signed a millionaire contract for the other two novels.
“I hoped I might have this kind of impact with my third or fourth book but never expected it from my first”, she told Standard. “It is a huge shock.”
The British author has also written Once Upon a River and Bellman & Black. The critics praised both novels.
8 Amanda Hocking – $10 million
Amanda Hocking spent years trying to be published. One day she decided to self-publish her paranormal novel as an e-book, just because she needed some quick money. That was the best decision she made in her life. In less than two years, her books became a bestseller.
She kept self-publishing other novels, and, in 2011, she had sold over a million digital copies and made more than $2 million. Hocking signed a $2 million contract with a publisher that year, and today she has a $10 million net worth.
Hockings was also the first authors who made the major publishers realize the dimension of the e-book industry.
7 Isabel Allende - $12 Million
Isabel Allende was born in Peru, and her books are known for their fantastic realism. However, her life could also be a novel. After her father died, her family moved to Chile to live with her wealthy grandfather.
“My grandfather would pay for what was necessary but my mother did not even have the cash to buy us an ice cream," she told The Telegraph. “I wanted to be like my grandfather because my mother had a terrible life and he had all the privileges and the power and the freedom and the car.”
She was related to Salvador Allende and a witness of Chilean dictatorship after his death. Later, she became a best-seller author with books like The House of Spirits.
6 LJ Ross - $1 million
LJ Ross was a lawyer and started writing when she was on maternity leave. She wanted to publish her novel, Holy Islands, but her husband suggested that she would have a higher profit if she self-publish it.
She earns approximately $1.20 per book. The profit looks small, but LJ Ross has sold more than one million copies. Ross also enjoys the freedom of an independent author. “As a writer, I feel uninhibited about what I write,” she told The Guardian. “I like that. I can write what comes to mind.
5 Stephen King - $400 million
Stephen King had a poor childhood, and his mother raised him alone after her husband abandoned the family. His father also tried to become a writer once, and King asked his mother why he didn’t succeed.
“Your father didn’t have persistence. That’s why he left us,” she said. Those words would have a significant impact on this future. King is the best writer on his genre and has written over 70 novels. According to Forbes, he makes $40 million per year and has a fortune evaluated on $400 million.
4 David Chilton - $20 million
David Chilton is a reality TV star, a famous author and has a $20 million net worth. However, not many people know that he had to self-publish his first book, The Wealthy Barber. The main idea of the book is to teach people with limited resources to invest. It shows three different people who seek financial advice from their barber. It became a bestseller and a profitable book franchise.
Chilton is a great supporter of self-publishing, and he spent years helping Canadian writers to pursue their dream by publishing the books themselves.
3 Paulo Coelho - $500 million
Paulo Coelho was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and wrote over 30 novels. He has a net worth evaluated on $500 million, and his wealth comes from his writing. According to the Guinness Book, he is the most translated living writer in the world.
He became a world phenomenon when he published The Pilgrimage, a book that talks about his spiritual experiences in Spain. Celebrities like Madonna, Will Pharrell and Neil Patrick Harris already affirmed that his books are essential to them. Paulo Coelho is also a musician and songwriter.
2 E.L. James - $150 million
E.L. James is one of the highest-earning authors on the world and has a net worth evaluated on $150 million. Most of her fortune comes from the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy.
However, she did not wait until a publisher told her she had written a good story, and she self-published the first book on digital platforms. Her story started as a fanfic of Twilight, the popular vampire series. Although the critics hated the books, E.L. James has a solid fanbase.
The book is also groundbreaking. It was the first time we have seen an e-book become a bestseller so fast and only later be released on print.
1 J.K. Rowling - $1 billion
According to Celebrity Net Worth, J.K. Rowling is the first author to become a billionaire. Her fortune comes from the successful Harry Potter franchise: books, films, amusement park, and endless products.
However, Rowlings was not always wealthy. “An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain without being homeless... By every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew," she said during a speech at Harvard.
Things changed when she decided to publish the first Harry Potter book signing as J. K. Rowling, and, in three days, she sold more than 100 thousand copies.