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2018 Highest Paid Authors | Forbes


All earnings estimates are from June 1, 2017, through June 1, 2018. Figures are pretax; fees for agents, managers and lawyers are not deducted. Earnings estimates are based on data from NPD BookScan and Box Office Mojo, as well as interviews with industry insiders, including some of the authors themselves.


10. E.L James (tie)


E. L. James is an English author. She wrote the bestselling erotic romance trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed, along with the companion novels Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian and Darker: Fifty Shades Darker as Told by Christian; and under the name Snowqueen's Icedragon the Twilight fan fiction "Master of the Universe" that was the basis for the Fifty Shades trilogy.

Earnings: $10.5 million


10. Rick Riordan (tie)


Richard Russell Riordan Jr. is an American author. He is known for writing the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, about a twelve-year-old boy who discovers he is a son of Poseidon. His books have been translated into 42 languages and sold more than 30 million copies in the US.

Earnings: $10.5 million


8. Nora Roberts (tie)


Nora Roberts is an American author of more than 225 romance novels. She writes as J. D. Robb for the in Death series, and has also written under the pseudonyms Jill March and for publications in the U.K. as Sarah Hardesty.

Earnings: $12 million


8. Danielle Steel (tie)


Danielle Fernandes Dominique Schuelein-Steel is an American writer, best known for her romance novels. She is the best selling author alive and the fourth bestselling fiction author of all time, with over 800 million copies sold. She has written 165 books, including 141 novels

Earnings: $12 million


7. Michael Wolff


Michael Wolff is an American author, essayist, journalist, and a columnist and contributor to USA Today, The Hollywood Reporter, and the UK edition of GQ.

Earnings: $13 million


5. Dan Brown (tie)


Daniel Gerhard Brown is an American author of thriller novels, most notably the Robert Langdon stories, Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol, Inferno and Origin.

Earnings: $18.5 million


5. Jeff Kinney (tie)


Jeffrey Patrick Kinney is an American cartoonist, producer and author of children's books, including the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series. He is also attributed as the creator of the child-oriented website Poptropica. He also appeared in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid films as Holly Hills' father.

Earnings: $18.5 million


4. John Grisham


John Ray Grisham Jr. is an American novelist, attorney, politician, and activist, best known for his popular legal thrillers. His books have been translated into 42 languages and published worldwide.

Earnings: $21 million


3. Stephen King


Stephen Edwin King is an American author of horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, science fiction and fantasy. His books have sold more than 350 million copies, many of which have been adapted into feature films, miniseries, television series, and comic books.

Earnings: $27 million


2. J.K. Rowling


Joanne Rowling, CH, OBE, FRSL, FRCPE, FRSE, writing under the pen names J. K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith, is a British novelist, philanthropist, film producer, television producer and screenwriter, best known for writing the Harry Potter fantasy series.

Earnings: $54 million


1. James Patterson


James Brendan Patterson is an American author and philanthropist. Among his works are the Alex Cross, Michael Bennett, Women's Murder Club, Maximum Ride, Daniel X, NYPD Red, Witch and Wizard, and Private series, as well as many stand-alone thrillers, non-fiction and romance novels.

Earnings: $86 million