James Patterson, E. L. James, J. K. Rowling

Warning: If your favorite author writes those fancy books that win awards and get written about by English professors, chances are that you won’t find their name on this list. Sorry. I guess they haven’t yet figured out how to “monetize their brand” 🙂

Anyway, on to the high rollers:

Forbes places James Patterson on the top of their 2012 list of  of richest authors. Very little is surprising about this given that one in every 17 novels purchased in the US is written by Patterson. 19 of his novels have taken the highly-coveted #1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list. He’s also written a total of 63 New York Times bestselling novels — a bonafide world record. A three-year deal to write and collaborate on 17 books, 11 for adults, 6 for children is ending this year.  Forbes has said that the deal was probably worth 150 million dollars even though Patterson disagrees. Patterson writes pop-fiction mainly, the stuff that no one reads in literature classes. But I imagine he’s not bothered since he’s always smiling to the bank. In the mid-90s, Patterson left advertising for fiction writing and made such a successful start with the publication of the Alex Cross series, an instant hit that featured a forensic psychologist.

Quick question: is it possible to write 71 books in 33 years? 2 books per year? Does he have a novel-machine that just spits these things out? I guess my question is: Does Patterson really write his own books or does he farm it out?

The women on the list did ok. E. L. James, writer of the Fifty Shades trilogy, is conspicuously missing from the list. She’s definitely one to watch out for in 2013. In less than a year, the trilogy has sold 40 million copies, not counting e-book sales. No doubt she’ll be blowing up the richest-author charts next year. J. K. Rowling of Harry Porter fame raked in just 17 million this year, a bit small compared to all the other numbers. Will the publication of her first adult fiction, titled The Casual Vacancy, change her earnings considerably? It’s hard to say. We can’t judge the book yet, not even by its really ugly cover. We’ll just have to wait till September 27th when the book hits the stores to find out more.

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The Complete List of Richest Authors in 2012

James Patterson: $94 million

Stephen King: $39 million

Janet Evanovich: $33 million

John Grisham: $26 million

Jeff Kinney, $25 million

Bill O’Reilly: $24 million

Nora Roberts: $23 million

Danielle Steel: $23 million

Suzanne Collins: $20 million

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Dean Koontz: $19 million

JK Rowling: $17 million

George RR Martin: $15 million

Stephenie Meyer: $14 million

Ken Follett: $14 million

Rick Riordan: $13 million