Monday, August 13, 2012

Patterson tops Forbes' top-earning authors' list

Forbes has recently published its annual list of the year’s top earning authors, and despite a couple of new faces, the results aren't really going to be that eye-opening for anyone keeping even a mild eye on the bestsellers lists etc. The Forbes list ranks the 'world's top-earning authors' - combining estimated income not only from books (advances, royalties), but also from the sale of rights for TV and film adaptation etc. So in many cases the authors doing extremely well aren't only those selling truckloads of copies, but those whose work has reached a broader audience via TV or film or both (eg Suzanne Collins' "Hunger Games" books).

Not a shock to many, I imagine, but James Patterson continues to ride high at the head of the list. Pumping out 14 books in a year, all of which seem to be gobbled up by an eager audience, will do that, it seems. Plus there's the further film adaptation (with Tyler Perry taking on the Alex Cross role) of his adult thrillers.

Here's the Forbes list:
  • James Patterson: $94 million (published 14 new titles in 2011)
  • 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 (The Hunger Games)
  • Dean Koontz: $19 million
  • J.K. Rowling: $17 million
  • George R.R. Martin: $15 million (writer of the books that became HBO's Game of Thrones)
  • Stephenie Meyer: $14 million
  • Ken Follett: $14 million
  • Rick Riordan: $13 million
Several crime/thriller writers on the list. I guess I've drunk the Kool Aid too, as I've read books by the top four listed authors, in 2011. So despite the fact I might recommend many other crime authors far over and above some on this list, there is a reason the authors on this list are there. A few authors I'm not as familiar with, too. What do you think of the Forbes list? Have you read any of the authors? Comments welcome.


  1. Kiwicraig,

    You are right--there aren't any surprises here. I've read about half of the authors on the list, but I've read only one book by each, with one exception. I found them to be competently written and mildly interesting, but nothing to make me go out and search for others by that author.

    They are like chain restaurants: standard flavors, edible, OK if I'm in a hurry and or somewhere I'm not familiar with and I want something to eat. However, if it's fine dining or something exotic I'm interested in that evening, I'd never go there.

    The one exception is Stephen King. I've read a number of his works; almost all, though, were part of his "Dark Tower" series, roughly? loosely? described as a fantasy western. It is the best work that he's done, and I think that his long-lasting reputation will be built on that series.

    As for his others, well, _The Stand_ was interesting, and I've tried several others but soon lost interest.

  2. I love books and authors, as a reviewer I've come to call many authors my personal friend so I'm not going to knock anyone but have to say that I am disappointed in the general public really because of lists like this. There is so much fantastic fiction being published by small press and even indie authors for that matter that the fact that someone who doesn't even write his own books and pumps out 14 in a year mass produced practically is just a shame. In this day and age of the internet it's not hard to find out about authors and really try something different so why stick to an author who is just about making the money like to the point of stupidity and not about the quality of his work. I say that and Patterson is one author my mother loves and insists on reading each time he has a new book. Course she's also Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey crazy. I don't know what happened to the woman but her reading habits are just plain odd to me. I review books on my blog almost all indie press and authors, I love the hard work those authors put in and I love that my blog brings me into contact with authors I'd never have read or even heard of other wise. Readers are stuck in a rut and have no clue how many great books they are missing out on but to each their own I guess.

  3. Oh and I should add I've read books by some of the authors on the list I'm not saying one shouldn't I simply wish that readers would open their minds to other authors not just the same ones they go to all the time. I haven't read a big 6 published author in some time and while I will of course I like discovering all the fantastic authors out there.

  4. Patterson is not an author; he's an industry. Not only does he employ a clutch of hard-working collaborators he manages with an all-seeing eye, resulting in the production of several bestsellers a year, but he totally dominates the publishing department of Little-Brown that is dedicated to putting out and pushing the results of their combined efforts.

    He does occasionally acknowledge the "real" writer of the book on the jacket, but altogether it would be possible to say that he has changed the face of publishing as much as Amazon. And that includes skewing the figures, which are supposed to show the earnings of a single author.

    For an interesting view of the way he operates, read this fascinating NYT story (which I hope is still online):

  5. And I am so out of that bestseller loop that, although I had read his name before, I really only know the man from his playing poker with Castle. :<) Guess he doesn't need my money though.