Forbes magazine has published a ranking of the most successful authors of last year. They managed to earn more than others on sales, firstly, of books, and secondly, of rights. We talk about those who took the first five places on the list.
Not everyone succeeds in turning their literary opuses into a source of stable income. Often, for a published book, writers receive only symbolic fees. And yet, some authors boast tens of millions of dollars in revenue. In December, journalists Forbes estimated earnings of the most popular authors before tax for the period from June 2017 to June 2018 and identified 10 leaders who have earned more than $10 million. The total sale of their products exceeded $200 million. Places from 10th to 6th occupied E.L. James, Rick Riordan, Nora Roberts, Daniela Steele, Michael Wolf and Dan Brown. Places from 5th to 1st took the following authors.
No. 5: Jeff Kinney: $18.5 million
The American cartoonist Jeff Kinney has become famous thanks to a series of children's books, “The Diary of a Wimp.” The main character is a boy Greg Heffley, who is disastrously unlucky. He keeps a diary in which he describes his every day. Teenage life stories are complemented by pencil illustrations. Work on the first book, which was based on Kinney’s childhood memories, took eight years. Initially, this story was intended for adult readers, but the editor convinced the author to change the concept. Which brought the works of Kinney success.
Since 2007, 12 parts of the “Diary” have seen the light, four of which were filmed. In one of the films, Jeff Kinney even played a supporting role. Today, his books have been translated into 50 languages, and their circulation exceeds 200 million copies. According to the writer, the most difficult thing was to move into the consciousness of the student and remember how the child thinks. The most severe critics of the writer are his sons Will and Grant. Once, instead of a bedtime story, father used to read them a new story from Greg’s life. Today, Jeff Kinney is not only a writer, but also a developer of video games and online games Poptropica. In addition, together with his wife Julia, he owns a small bookstore and cafe An Unlikely Story.
No. 4: John Grisham: $21 million
Another popular American writer was once a successful lawyer. He lived in the town of South haven and worked 60–70 hours a week. At a meeting in 1984, the jury examined the case of rape of two black girls. The testimonies of the 12-year-old victim intrigued Grisham so much that on their basis he wrote his debut novel “It's Time to Kill” three years later. The book received a modest response, but this did not stop the writer. His second work became a bestseller. For a couple of years, 1.5 million copies of the novel The Company were sold, and Paramount Pictures bought the rights to film adaptation for $600 thousand. The main role in the film was played by Tom Cruise.
After the success of the Firm, Grisham quit his legal career and began publishing a new book every year. Nine of them were interested in Hollywood, including “It's Time to Kill.” In the film adaptation of the novel, Matthew McConaughey, Samuel L. Jackson, Sandra Bullock played. Today, John Grisham is called the king of the judicial thriller — in this genre most of his books are created. He expertly uses the once acquired legal knowledge and techniques. Each writer takes about six months to work on each novel. Today he is actively involved in charity work, fighting for the rights of unjustly convicted people and cheering on his favorite baseball teams.
No. 3: Stephen King: $27 million
The “King of Horrors” tried his hand at writing as early as seven years old. It all started when he climbed into the attic and found there a whole box of horror films and science fiction. At 12, Stephen King and his brother began to publish their own newspaper. It was distributed among neighbors and relatives. A little later, he began to create the first stories. A turning point in King's work happened in 1971. Then he began to write the novel “Carrie”, which he considered unsuccessful and even threw out his drafts. King's wife found crumpled sheets. She persuaded him to finish the book. As a result, “Carrie” brought fame to the writer and the first major fee.
Today, King is the owner of many prestigious awards and the author of 56 novels, 200 short stories and 5 popular science books. King has long set a creative minimum for himself: he does not stop until he writes at least 2 thousand words a day. Last year, 2.7 million of his books were sold in the United States. At the same time, the bulk of the revenue came from the sale of the novel “It.” Interest in the 1986 book was revived by the 2017 film adaptation. With a budget of $35 million a film Argentine Andres Musketti grossed more than $700 million. This tape recognized the most cash among the classic horror films in history.
No. 2: Joan Rowling: $54 million
Books about Harry Potter have become the best-selling in the UK and sold around the world in the amount of 500 million copies. In addition, the novels formed the basis of film franchise. In 1998, the rights to the film version of the first two books were bought by Warner Brothers. It was Rowling who insisted that the shooting take place in England, and her compatriots should play all the roles. In the future, the writer herself approved the scripts of the films and became the producer of the two final parts. The last Potteriana novel was released in 2007. In the first day alone, more than 11 million copies were sold.
Since then, the income of the writer has become lower. Nevertheless, Rowling makes good money on amusement parks created based on her books. Part of the revenue comes from the play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” and the play put on it, which is shown in London and New York. Another source of profit is the Fantastic Beasts and Where They Live franchise, designed for five films. In addition, in September, Rowling released the novel Deadly Whiteness, which continued a series of books about private detective Strike. By the way, the writer created her first work at the age of six. It was a fairy tale about a rabbit who got measles.
No. 1: James Patterson: $86 million
American James Patterson tops the list of the richest writers for the tenth time. In addition, he is included in the Guinness Book of Records as an author who has created an unprecedented number of bestsellers. But once 31 publishing houses refused to print his debut novel. Then Patterson worked in an advertising agency. There he achieved great success and for several years combined the career of an advertiser with writing. In 1993, Patterson released the novel “And the Spider Came.” It is in it that the forensic psychologist Alex Cross first appears. Later, he became the central hero of the best-selling series of detective stories in the United States.
The success of the novel was largely determined by the advertising campaign, skillfully organized by the author himself. Today, his works have been sold with a total circulation of more than 300 million copies. Interestingly, Patterson only takes about a month to complete one book. The fact is that he himself does not write, but only outlines the plot and characters of future novels. This description usually takes 60–80 pages. And to create the text, he hires a writer. As a result, the co-author receives a decent fee, and James Patterson — a finished book. For this, many colleagues criticize him and consider it a more profitable brand than an artist. Be that as it may, Patterson's readers love. In the United States alone, they have already bought 660,000 copies of his new June book, The President is Missing.