Writing is a career in which it is notoriously difficult to achieve success. May authors spend years writing novels and sending them to publishers only to receive letters of rejection. Having the ability to think of a storyline that will captivate a reader and write it in such a way that publishers are keen to work with you and readers are compelled to buy your books is something that many writers find close to impossible. However, those who do make the big time in the world of publishing can find that their efforts are extremely fruitful. In fact, the top authors often rank in lists of the world’s richest people. These talented writers have the ability to create interesting books that encourage people to buy the next books they write. The richest authors have also often created a story that is worthy of adapting into a movie or having products manufactured.
Here are the 20 richest authors in the world, their net worth and how they have made their fortunes.
20. Dean Koontz
Dean Koontz has a net worth of $145 million and he is best-known for writing novels in the genre of suspense thrillers. He was born in Everett, Pennsylvania, on July 9, 1945. Most of his novels incorporate elements of satire, horror, mystery, and science-fiction. They are also often based in Orange County. During the early years of his career, Koontz wrote under pen names, including Leigh Nichols, David Axton, and Brian Coffey. To date, he has sold over 450 million copies of his books globally and his work has been published in 38 languages.
19. David Oyedepo
Worth $150 million, David Oyedepo is a Nigerian pastor who is the founder of Living Faith Church World Wide, which is also known as Winners Chapel. Members of his congregation call him ‘Papa’. He was born in Nigeria on September 27, 1954. He has published over 70 books and these are generally motivational and inspirational books relating to the Christian faith. These books are published by his own church’s publishing company which is called ‘Dominion Publishing House (DPH). This was established on December 5, 1992. It also publishes many other types of publications, such as magazines and educational resources. He is married to Faith Adiola Oyedepo and they have four children.
18. Dan Brown
This American author earns $20 million a year and has accumulated a net worth of $160 million. He was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, on June 22, 1964. He is best-known for writing ‘The Da Vinci Code’. This best-selling novel was published in 2003 and sold almost 6000 copies on the day it was released and made it on to the New York Times’ Best Seller List in the first week of publication. It was later adapted into a movie that was directed by Ron Howard. He was inspired to write thrillers after reading ‘The Doomsday Conspiracy’ by Sidney Sheldon.
17. Michael Crichton
Born on October 23, 1942, Michael Crichton is an American author who amassed a net worth of $175 million before his death on November 4, 2008. His career as an author began in 1966 when he wrote a novel called ‘Odds On’. This was about the robbery of a hotel that was planned by a computer program. In 1969, he wrote the bestseller ‘The Andromeda Strain’. This science-fiction novel was about a killer virus from outer space. This famous book was later adapted into a movie. The novel he is probably most famous for is ‘Jurassic Park’. This book also became a movie and gave Crichton true blockbuster status. In addition to working as an author, Michael Crichton also worked as a screenwriter, a film producer, a film director, and a television producer.
16. Jackie Collins
Jackie Collins is one of the most prolific British authors of all time and this is led to her having a net worth of $180 million. She was born in Hampstead, London, on October 4, 1937 and is the sister of actress Joan Collins. She is not just an author as she has also worked as a screenwriter, an actress, and a film producer. In 1968, she published her first novel, ‘The World is Full of Married Men’. During her career as an author, Jackie Collins has written 32 books and all of these were included on the New York Times’ Best Seller list. A total of eight of her books have been adapted into films, including ‘The Stud’ and ‘The Bitch’. She wrote a series of five novels called the ‘Hollywood Series’. She was married twice and had three children. She lost her battle to breast cancer on September 19, 2015 when she was 77 years of age.
15. R.L Stine
This American author and producer has a net worth of $200 million. Robert Lawrence Stine was born in Columbus, Ohio, on October 8, 1943. He is best-known for writing children’s books in the horror genre. When he graduated from Ohio State University, he moved to New York where he began writing children’s comedy books. In the 1980s, he wrote his first children’s horror novel called ‘Blind Date’. He is famous for writing the ‘Fear Street’ and Goosebumps’ series of books and has sold over 400 million copies of his novels worldwide. He has the accolade of being the best-selling author of children’s book series.
14. Jeffrey Archer
This English author and politician has a net worth of $200 million. He was born in London on April 15, 1940. He has sold over 250 million copies of his books internationally. However, he is most famous for serving a prison sentence for perjury and perverting the court of justice. His time in prison inspired the series of prison diaries. Another famous series of books written by Archer was the ‘Kane and Abel’ series. Most recently, he has written a series of books called the ‘Clifton Chronicles.
13. Allison DuBois
Allison DuBois is worth $200 million and she is an author and medium. She was born in Phoenix, Arizona, on January 24, 1972. The TV series ‘Medium’ was based on Allison DuBois and her books. She is known for helping to solve crime through her work as a medium . She has written four books, all of which are based on the psychic phenomena.
12. Olivia Harrison
This British author, actor, film producer, and philanthropist has a net worth of $275 million. She was born in Mexico City on May 18, 1948 and is the widower of George Harrison who was in the famous band, ‘The Beatles’. She has written content for books relating to The Beatles and also co-wrote the book ‘George Harrison: Living in the Material World which was published in 2011.
11. Tom Clancy
Tom Clancy has a net worth of $300 million. This American author was born in Baltimore on April 12, 1947. This writer and film producer has had many of his books turned into movies and video games. Some of the most successful films that are based on his books include ‘Patriot Games’, The Hunt for Red October’, ‘The Sum of All Fears’, and ‘Clear and Present Danger’. Clancy passed away in 2013.
10. John Grisham
Worth $300 million, John Gresham earns approximately $50 million a year. He was born on February 8, 1955 and is an author, screenwriter, film producer, TV producer, and a lawyer. Throughout his career, this American author has sold in excess of 300 million books internationally. He wrote ‘A Time to Kill’, his first novel’ in 1987. Initially, this was rejected by many publishing houses before it was finally published in 1988 by Winwood Press.
9. Barbara Taylor Bradford
This British-American novelist is worth $300 million. Barbara Taylor-Bradford was born in Leeds, England, on May 10, 1933. Her debut novel was ‘A Woman of Substance’ which was published in 1979 and remains one of her best-known books. It was the first book in the Emma Harte saga and six books followed in this series. In addition to her novels, Bradford-Taylor has also authored a series of children’s books and a series of interior design books.
8. Pleasant Rowland
Pleasant Rowland was born in Chicago in 1941 and has a net worth of $310 million. She is an American author, educator, entrepreneur, and reporter. She is best-known as the creator of the American Girl brand which includes dolls, books and related merchandise. While she clearly hasn’t made most of her money from her writing, it’s safe to say that her writing endeavors most certainly contributed to the American Girl brand and inception.
7. Nora Roberts
Nora Roberts has a net worth of $370 million and reportedly earns $20 million a year. This American author was born in Silver Spring, Maryland, on October 10, ‘950. She began writing in the late 1970s and her work was initially rejected by Harlequin. However, Silhouette Books accepted her submission and went on to publish 23 of her books between 1982 and 1984. Her first bestseller was ‘Playing the Odds’ which was published in 1985. She has now written a total of 209 novels.
6. Danielle Steel
Born in New York City on August 14, 1947, Danielle Steel has a net worth of $385 million. Although she wrote her first manuscript at 19, she didn’t publish her first book until nine years later following her divorce from first husband, Claude-Eric Lazard. She then had a short marriage to a man who was later convicted of rape followed by an equally short marriage to a drug addict. Steele married and divorced two further times. She has written over 70 novels, picture books, children’s literature and works of fiction.
5. Stephen King
A prolific American author, Stephen King has an estimated net worth of $400 million. He has sold over 350 million copies of his novels around the globe. His books and screenplays usually fall into the genres of horror, fantasy, gothic and suspense. Some of his most popular books have become movies. Some of these include ‘It’, ‘Carrie’, ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, ‘The Shining’, ‘Misery’, and ‘Stand By Me’. Throughout his career, King has received bountiful critical acclaim for his work and has won over 50 literary awards.
4. Paulo Coelho
This Brazilian novelist, musician, journalist, theater director, and lyricist has a net worth of $500 million. He was born in Rio de Janeiro on August 24, 1947. At the age of 16, his parents sent him to a mental institution and he escaped several times before he was released after spending four years there. He studied at law school for a year before dropping out so he could travel. He initially wrote lyrics for bands before publishing his first book 1982, although this had only limited success. He then traveled around Spain and chronicled his experiences in one of his books, ‘The Pilgrimage’. One of his most famous books is ‘The Alchemist’. Not only was this a best-selling book, it is also the most translated book by a living author.
3. Candy Spelling
Candy Spelling has a net worth of $600 million. However, not all her fortune is from her work as an author. She is also an heiress, an entrepreneur, actor, philanthropist, theatrical producer and a socialite. She was born in Beverley Hills, California, on September 20, 1945. She was married to producer and entertainment mogul Aaron Spelling until he died in 2006. When she wrote her autobiography, ‘Stories from Candyland’, it was listed as a New York Times bestseller.
2. James Patterson
James Patterson has a net worth of $750 million and earns an estimated $90 million per year. This novelist was born in Newburgh, New Jersey, on March 22, 1947. His best-known work is his books about Alex Cross, a fictional psychologist. His first novel in this series was The Thomas Berryman Number which was published in 1976. In addition to the Alex Cross series of books, he has also written the series Witch and the Wizard, Women’s Murder Club, Maximum Ride and Michael Bennett. Patterson has also written many stand-alone books. He studied for his B.A. in English at Manhattan College and received his M.A. in English from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee.
1. JK Rowling – Topping the list of the richest authors
With a net worth of $1 billion, JK Rowling currently has the accolade of being the richest author in the world and is also the first author to ever achieve this level of financial success from their writing. She is best-known for writing the Harry Potter series of books from which she has made money from book sales, the movies and the wide range of Harry Potter related merchandise that is available. This British author has also written several adults books using the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. She has homes in London, Edinburgh, and Aberfeldy in Scotland. She is married to David Murray and they have two children together. She also has an older daughter from a previous relationship.