Earnings of the wealthiest authors worldwide 2018

The statistic shows a ranking of the highest paid authors worldwide. In the period from June 2017 to June 2017, Stephen King was the third wealthiest author worldwide, with earnings amounting to 27 million U.S. dollars. Topping the list was James Patterson with an annual income of 86 million.

Authors and film adaptations – additional information

Forbes has documented the novelist Stephen King’s annual earnings from May 2010 to June 2018. King began writing in the 1970s and published his novel, ‘Carrie’ in 1973 for an advance of 2,500 U.S. dollars. It is considered one of his most popular books and inspired two Hollywood film adaptations in 1976 and 2013. The author's earnings have fluctuated over the years but as of 2018 King has earned the most recorded since the year ending May 2012.

Another author whose works have led to blockbuster films is also J.K. Rowling, the author of the epic fantasy ‘Harry Potter’ series. Between May 2010 and April 2011, Rowling earned five million U.S. dollars. This figure would rise gradually before hitting 95 million as of June 2017, and stayed strong in 2018 at 54 million U.S. dollars.

Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’ series consists of seven books which were published between 1997 and 2007. The literary series, once adapted into film, generated eight films in total, with a further two films now made and based on the 'Fantastic Beasts' books. The first film, entitled ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ which was released in 2001, generated a box office revenue of 974.76 million U.S. dollars worldwide. The final film in the series ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2’ was released ten years later in 2011 and generated 1.34 billion U.S. dollars worldwide making it the highest earning film of the series.

Earnings of the wealthiest authors worldwide from June 2017 to June 2018

Earnings in million U.S. dollars
James Patterson86
J.K. Rowling54
Stephen King27
John Grisham21
Jeff Kinney18.5
Dan Brown18.5
Michael Wolff13
Nora Roberts12
Danielle Steel12
E.L. James10.5
Rick Riordan10.5
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Release date

December 2018



Survey time period

June 1, 2017 to June 1, 2018

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Statistics on "Book market in the U.S."

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