Thriller, Horror, Romance Authors Best Paid

August 23, 2010

The highest-paid authors of works sold in the US primarily write in the thriller, horror and romance genres, according to a recent ranking from Forbes.

Forbes List of 10 Highest-Paid Authors June 2009-June 2010
1. James Patterson: $70 million
2. Stephanie 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: $17 million
8. John Grisham: $15 million
9. Nicholas Sparks: $14 million
10. J.K. Rowling: $10 million

3 Thriller Authors Make Top 10
Thriller author James Patterson was the highest-paid author between June 2009 and June 2010, earning $70 million. Two other authors primarily associated with thrillers also made the top 10 pay list: British author Ken Follett came in at number five and John Grisham, a former attorney specializing in legal thrillers, was ranked eighth.

Horror, Romance, YA Authors also Earn Spots
While more authors in the top 10 pay list are primarily associated with the thriller genre than any other genre, three other genres were represented by two authors each. Horror was represented by Stephen King (number three) and Dean Koontz (number six); romance was represented by Danielle Steel (number four) and Janet Evanovich (number seven), and young adult was represented by Stephanie Meyer (number two) and J.K. Rowling (number 10).

Within the young adult genre, Stephanie Meyer’s hugely successful “Twilight” series is about vampires and mixes elements of the horror, romance and fantasy genres; while Rowling’s best-selling “Harry Potter” series about a boy wizard growing into manhood squarely fits into the fantasy genre.

Most Authors on List Well-Established
Most of the top 10 highest-paid authors have been writing books for some time. Dean Koontz published his first novel (a science fiction story) in the 1960s, while Follett, King, Patterson and Steel all published their debuts in the 1970s. Evanovich and Grisham began publishing books in the 1980s, while Rowling and Sparks released their first novels in the 1990s.

Only Meyer, whose first novel “Twilight” was published in 2005, started her publishing career in the 21st century.

Americans Prefer US Authors
Eight of the 10 authors on the list are residents of the US. Follett and Rowling are British.

Grisham, Meyer among Best-Selling Authors of 2009
Interestingly, only two of the top 10 highest-paid authors released books in 2009 that made The Nielsen Company‘s best-seller lists that year. The hardcover and paperback versions of Grisham’s “The Associate” were both on the New York Times Top 10 adult fiction book list, while books from Meyer’s “Twlight” series held five of the spots on the Top 10 juvenile fiction book list.

About the Data: Forbes’ rankings of the top-earning authors are based on earnings from books, film rights, television, gaming deals and other income from June 1, 2009, through June 1, 2010.

Explore More Articles.

Marketing Charts Logo

Stay on the cutting edge of marketing.

Sign up for our free newsletter.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This