These days, it isn’t just about writing that perfect book that resonates with readers and then suddenly takes off to stratospheric sales heights, netting the author a nice piece of coin to stash away for a rainy day or to change the family ‘stagon wagon’ still standing valiantly in the driveway but clearly on its last legs. Nope. Today, it’s about movie deals, video game deals, TV deals and theme parks. If you’re lucky enough that your bestseller, optioned as a movie, becomes the movie hit of the season, well then, you’re practically a shoo-in for a spot on the fabled Forbes list. The following list of authors have managed to segue strong book sales into lucrative movie franchises, earning them a coveted spot on Forbes’ 2016 list which examined each author’s earnings for the period between June, 2015 and June, 2016:
12. Dan Brown – 9.5 Million Dollars – The author who brought us The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons and Inferno, Brown published a YA version of The Da Vinci Code in September of this year.
12. Rick Riordan – 9.5 Million Dollars – Riordan writes Greek mythology fiction aimed at younger readers.
12. George R.R. Martin – 9.5 Million Dollars – He spent half a decade writing the sixth installment of A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series that spawned HBO’s Game of Thrones.
9. Paula Hawkins – 10 Million Dollars – What can we say? This talented British author has managed to bring the term ‘complex female protagonists’ to a whole new level of literary gold with The Girl on the Train.
9. John Green – 10 Million Dollars – He hasn’t written any new books within Forbes’ review period yet the Young Adult author is hugely popular, thanks to the tearjerker, The Fault in our Stars, Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska.
9. Veronica Roth – 10 Million Dollars – Born in 1988, she’s the youngest author on Forbes’ list whose fortunes have shrunk after book sales of her Divergent trilogy dropped and the third movie in the franchise didn’t do as well. The poor thing…
8. E.L. James – 14 Million Dollars – Ms. James brought kink into mainstream with Fifty Shades of Grey, the book and movie, and then topped up her financial coffers with the release of Grey, a retelling of Fifty Shades, but from the guy’s perspective.
5. Nora Roberts – 15 Million Dollars – She pens five or more manuscripts a year under her own name or under J.D. Robb, with her romance and crime novels popular sells as ebooks.
5. Danielle Steel – 15 Million Dollars – The Grand Dame of Romance fiction has published 129 books and has sold 650 million copies – and she types her manuscripts on a 1946 Olympia typewriter!
5. Stephen King – 15 Million Dollars – According to Forbes, the King of Scaremeisters has earned over 450 Million Dollars in his prolific writing career. An adaptation of The Dark Tower hits screens in 2017.
4. John Grisham – 18 Million Dollars – This former criminal attorney’s legal thrillers are the perfect vehicles for movie blockbusters. Anyone remember The Firm, starring Tom Cruise? Eight of Grisham’s other novels have been adapted to film with his most recent literary offering, Rogue Lawyer.
3. J.K. Rowling – 19 Million Dollars – Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past few decades, you’ve read, heard about or seen one or more of the Harry Potter books or movies in the franchise or have visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Universal Studios theme parks and know all about the rags to riches story of the woman behind Harry Potter. Since the Harry franchise, Rowling has tried her hand at adult books with limited acclaim. It is said that most of her moolah during the relevant period has come from the theme parks.
2. Jeff Kinney – 19.5 Million Dollars – Who knew that writing about the everyday life of a wimpy kid could mean literary gold? The cartoon and text series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid has an eleventh installment published in November, 2016 and has become a bestseller on Amazon.
1. James Patterson – 95 Million Dollars – The very prolific Mr. Patterson who by himself, or with other authors, wrote or co-wrote a dozen books within the relevant period. His latest endeavor is Bookshots, a new line of short novellas that cost less and can be read in a single sitting – in other words, shorter, cheaper, more plot-driven and more attractive for the masses.
So there you have it. The secret to getting on Forbes’ highest paid author list is to write a great book, sell lots of copies, option the book for a movie and hope that it’s a blockbuster…