20 Highest-Paid Authors and Their Astronomical Fortune

Many people say that writing is not a lucrative career, but these highest-paid authors beg to differ. Not only have they penned novels that landed on the New York Times bestsellers list multiple times, but they’ve also raked in millions with TV shows and movie films. 

So, who are the richest authors? Is your all-time favorite novelist on our list? Stick around because we’re rounding the highest-paid authors and their net worth. 

Jeff Kinney

Photo of Jeff Kinney at a book signing event.

Net Worth: $70 million

Jeff Kinney made his name after releasing the Diary of a Wimpy Kid, a kids’ book series. The book became a #1 New York Times bestseller, making him among the highest paid authors. However, Jeff earned his money not just in books but also in TV production, animations, and game design.

He has several awards and recognitions, including Time’s 50 Best Websites for Poptropica, Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, and six Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, among others. He owns and runs the An Unlikely Story bookstore in England.

Stephenie Meyer

photo of Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight saga

Net Worth: $120 million

Stephenie Meyer is the author behind one of the most successful book series, Twilight. The book sold more than 100 million copies worldwide, and between 2010 and 2011, she made about $40 million from her books. She has several other books, including The Host and The Chemist, among others.

Dan Brown

Photo of Dan Brown, one of the highest paid author.

Net Worth: $160 million

The Da Vinci Code made Dan Brown one of the most recognized authors in the world. The book later found its way into two movies starring Tom Hanks. Over time, Brown has sold more than 250 million copies of his books. But Brown was not always a writer. He started as a musician. He later took up teaching before he started writing in 1993. 

The Da Vinci Code was his fourth and the most successful novel selling about 6,000 copies on its first day. In 2009, he released The Lost Symbol, which sold over a million copies on its first day. Another famous book by Dan Brown is his Angels and Demons.

Jackie Collins

Photo of author Jackie Collins

Net Worth: $180 million

Collins wrote books about her personal life and the challenges she had gone through. Her marriage was short-lived, and she was alone with a child.

Her second husband pushed her to publish her first novel, The World Is Full of Married Men, in 1968. The book had explicit descriptions of sex, which led to its ban in South Africa and Australia. However, the ban only made the book more popular in the UK and increased sales. Later, an adaptation of this book into a film by Robert Young made her even more popular.

She succumbed to breast cancer in 2015 with 32 novels under her name, eight of which were available as films.

Jeffrey Archer

Author Jeffrey Archer speaking on stage.

Net Worth: $200 million

Jeffrey Archer never planned to be an author. In 1970, after resigning from his post as a Member of Parliament, he decided to write a novel and see how writing goes. Six years later, he published his first novel, Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less.

Since then, Archer has been among the best-selling authors, selling more than 250 million copies of his books.

Dean Koontz

Photo of author Dean Koontz

Net Worth: $200 million

American author Dean Koontz is a suspense genius. His novels are about mystery, horror, and science fiction. He has more than 105 novels under his name. He continues to create compelling novels, most set around Orange County, California. To date, he has sold more than 450 million copies of his books.

Dave Ramsey

Headshot of author and entrepreneur Dave Ramsey

Net Worth: $200 million

By the time he was 26, Dave Ramsey was making about $500,000 a year. He was also the owner of about $4 million in real estate portfolio, but he lost it all when he was 28. Today, he runs The Dave Ramsey Show, which has more than 13 million listeners. His first book, Finance Peace, was a gift to his growing number of radio listeners. He uses biblical principles in his books and his radio show.

Tom Clancy

Black and white photo of Tom Clancy, one of the highest paid authors

Net Worth: $300 million

Unfortunately, Tom Clancy died in 2013. He created dozens of books, some of whose adaptations turned into very popular video games and movies. His money was not from just books, however. He co-owned and served as the Vice-Chairman of the Baltimore Orioles Baseball Team.

Before trying his luck as a writer, Tom worked with a private insurance agency. After years of writing, he received the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award in 1990 from the Navy League of the US. From then, most of his work found its spot in successful films, such as Patriot Games, The Hunt For Red October, The Sum Of All Fears, and Clear and Present Danger.

Barbara Taylor Bradford

A photo of one the highest paid authors, Barbara Taylor Bradford

Net Worth: $300 million

Barbara Taylor Bradford, a British-American novelist, wrote her first novel, A Woman of Substance, in 1979. Today, Barbara has 35 novels with more than 30 million copies sold worldwide. Her first book anchored the success of 10 of her bestselling novels.

Pleasant Rowland

Net Worth: $335 million

Pleasant made her name as the creator of the American Girl dolls. Before creating the dolls, Pleasant served as a school teacher. She then worked as a reporter and later a news anchor for ABC Affiliate. The idea for the dolls came much later, and she created books and merchandise. In 1998, Pleasant sold her company for $700 million, making her one of the richest self-made women.

Nora Roberts

A photo of Nora Roberts

Net Worth: $390 million

Born Eleanor Marie Robertson, Nora is one of the most prolific romance authors. She has more than 200 romance novels under her name and pseudonyms, such as Sarah Hardesty, J.D. Rob, and Jill March.

Roberts first fell in love with the writing process in 1979 after spending so much time restricted in her house. By 2011, Nora was one of the highest paid authors, and she joined the Romance Writers of America’s Hall of Fame. She has several awards and recognitions, including Quill, RITA, and Golden Medallion awards.

John Grisham

Black and white photo of John Grisham

Net Worth: $400 million

Grisham, an American writer, was a practicing attorney when he released his first novel, A Time To Kill. His books are famous for their fast-paced, action-packed stories on crimes and mysterious cases. His book, The Firm, became one of the best sellers and was later adapted into a movie starring Tom Cruise.

Today, he has over 300 million copies of his books sold, with several being adapted into movies, including The Pelican Brief and The Client.

Michael Crichton

Picture of author Michael Crichton wearing a suit

Net Worth: $400 million

Television producer, film producer, and author, Michael Crichton, is famous for CongoJurassic ParkRising Sun, and Sphere. He has more than 200 million copies of his books sold. Most of his novels turned into successful films.

Unfortunately, Crichton died in 2008 due to cancer.

Danielle Steel

Photo of author Danielle Steel

Net Worth: $400 million

Danielle Steel is one of the most recognizable names. You may not have read her work, but the name may sound familiar to you. The romance novelist spent most of her childhood in France and started writing poetry.

Today, she has more than 174 novels to her name. Her work draws inspiration from her marriages and divorces, but she also has children’s literature and picture books.

In 1989, Danielle set a Guinness Book of World Record by having a New York Times Bestseller for 318 weeks.

Danielle Steel’s net worth is $400 million. 

Stephen King

Photo of highest paid author Stephen King

Net Worth: $500 million

Stephen King is a prolific writer with 58 novels. He also has six non-fictional books to his name. King is popular for screenwriting fantasy, horror, and gothic novels, most of which are now successful mini-series and films. His best novels include CarrieThe Shining, and It, and he also has a successful short story, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. Over the years, King has sold over 350 million copies of his books and won over 50 literary awards.

Stephen King’s net worth is currently $500 million. 

Paulo Coelho

A photo of author Paulo Coelho

Net Worth: $500 million

Paulo Coelho knew he had a passion for writing at a tender age. However, his parents never saw a writer in him and instead sent him to a mental institution. He escaped from the institution several times, and four years later, he was let free. Coelho traveled from Brazil to America and Spain, a journey that inspired his novels The Alchemist and The Pilgrimage.

His book, The Alchemist, is available in 67 languages and holds the Guinness Book World Record for the most-translated book by a living author.

James Patterson

Photo of author James Patterson writing on a yellow pad

Net Worth: $800 million

Vanity Fair calls James Patterson “The Henry Ford of Books.” Jim became popular with his fictional novels surrounding the character Alex Cross. He also wrote books, such as Women’s Murder ClubMaximum RideDetective Michael BennettWitch and Wizard series, and Daniel X.

Since 1976, he has written more than 140 novels and has more than 350 million copies of his books sold in 14 different languages. Over the years, Jim has won many awards, including The New York Times record for the highest #1 bestselling books and a Guinness World Record.

Jim Davis

Photo of Jim Davis, cartoonist and author

Net Worth: $800 million

Jim Davis goes by many titles. He is a cartoonist, screenwriter, film producer, TV producer, and TV writer. He rose to popularity for his comic strip “Garfield,” for which he produced several TV series since 1976. From the success of Garfield, Jim started working on several other comic strips, including TumbleweedsMr. Potato HeadU.S. Acres, and Gnorm Gnat. By 2013, Garfield entered the Guinness World Record for most-syndicated comic strip after appearing in more than 2,500 newspapers.

J.K. Rowling

Photo of J.K. Rowling, one of the highest paid authors.

Net Worth: $1 Billion

J.K. Rowling is the author of the famous Harry Potter series. With a net worth of $1 billion, she is one of the wealthiest private citizens in Britain. Before she made billions as a writer, J.K. Rowling was a researcher and an English teacher.

Unknown to many, 12 publishers rejected Rowling’s Harry Potter manuscript. Today, her work is available in 65 languages, and the Harry Potter movies brought in about $7.7 billion.

Earning a Living as a Writer

By now, you’re probably wondering how much money does an author make per book anyway? Well, authors can earn between 10% and 60% from royalties. Of course, more sales can mean more money. 

So, who is your favorite among the highest-paid authors in the world? Leave a comment below.

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