THE WORLD’S TOP EARNING AUTHORS
Watch out Danielle Steel and Stephen King – the kids are coming. The world’s top-earning authors list includes three young newcomers who made more than $9 million each in the last year.
In a ranking long-dominated by stalwarts like crime writer James Patterson (who earned an estimated $90 million between June 2013 and June 2014), several of these “youngsters” have joined the ranks of big earners due to the increased commercial appeal of teen literature. Young adult author Veronica Roth‘s ranks 6th on account of her “Divergent” trilogy which sold a combined 6.7 million copies in 2013, earning her around $17 million between June 2013 and June 2014. At just 26, Roth is the youngest newcomer on the ranking, and one of seven women on the 17-person list. 37-year-old newcomer John Green’s ”The Fault in Our Stars” propelled him to an estimated $9 million yearly paycheck. The YA love story, which follows the trials of two cancer-stricken teens, has sold well over 1 million copies in the U.S. and spawned a weepy summer blockbuster. Green is tied for 12th place with Gillian Flynn, who joins the rankings for the first time due to the continued success of 2012′s “Gone Girl.” This New York Times bestseller sold 1.2 million copies in 2013.
Interestingly, a 2012 Bowker Market Research study suggested 55% of YA books are bought by people 18 and older. Adults aged between 30 and 44 accounted for 28% of all YA sales, and the books are purchased for their own reading the vast majority of the time.
With $14 million in earnings, the original young adult tour de force, J.K. Rowling, ranks 8th on the list. She continues to earn from back sales of her iconic Harry Potter series, while Pottermore – a proprietary website she setup to sell Harry Potter ebooks – earns millions. Unlike most authors, Rowling never signed over the digital rights to her books, so she sells directly to readers, earning far more from these digital sales than most authors do through ebooks.
Dan Brown, who first joined the Celebrity 100 ranking in 2004 thanks to the meteoric success of the Da Vinci Code, made an estimated $28 million from his Robert Langdon thriller series. In 2013, his fourth installment, “Inferno,” sold more than 1.4 million copies in the U.S.
Mainstays Nora Roberts ($23 million), Danielle Steel ($22 million) and Janet Evanovich ($20 million) round out the first five. Notably absent from the top: Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins, who ranked third in 2013. This year, she earned a relatively paltry $16 million – a 71% decrease from the $55 million she pulled in between 2012 and 2013 – due to an 88% drop in book sales of her dystopian trilogy.
Collins still fared better than “Fifty Shades Of Grey” author E.L. James. The top earning author on last year’s ranking with a $95 million paycheck, James (No. 11) made just $10 million in this scoring period. Her erotic trilogy sold a meager 1.8 million copies in 2013, compared to more than 29 million in 2012.
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