So much for the starving-writer stereotype. In a story published Monday, Forbes listed the best-paid authors in the business—and their incomes are enough to make just about any office drone reconsider their boring desk job for a life of fiction writing.
Industrious thriller writer James Patterson topped the list, earning a staggering $90 million before taxes between June 2013 and June 2014. The author, who has written 10 or more books every year since 2010, has earned $700 million in the last decade.
Many familiar airplane-bookstore and poolside names made the list, including Dan Brown ($28 million), Nora Roberts ($23 million), Janet Evanovich ($20 million), and John Grisham ($17 million). J.K. Rowling ($14 million) and Stephen King ($17 million) also continued to ride the popularity of their earlier work.
But the list’s real highlights were its new additions. Bolstered by impressive showings in print and on the silver screen, John Green ($9 million), Gillian Flynn ($9 million), and Veronica Roth ($17 million) enjoyed massive years.
Some authors of books with film and TV adaptations—including Diary of a Wimpy Kid’s Jeff Kinney ($17 million) and A Song of Ice and Fire’s George R.R. Martin ($12 million)—sustained their success. The same can’t be said, however, for Suzanne Collins ($16 million) and E.L. James ($10 million), whose trilogies aren’t burning quite as hot as they used to. Sales of Collins’ The Hunger Games series dropped by 88 percent in the last year. After James’ Fifty Shades of Grey plummeted from 29 million copies sold in 2012 to 1.8 million in 2013, the author probably hopes the novel’s 2015 film adaptation will provide a boost. (If Beyoncé’s ultra-sexy endorsement of the film is any indication, James can likely count on it being a blockbuster.)