Is your favorite genre writer one of the top-earning scribes of the year?
It's no secret that writing sci-fi, fantasy and horror can turn into big business, but in the world of books there are bestsellers, and then there are mega-bestsellers, authors selling millions of copies of their novels while also often raking in cash from movie and TV deals, merchandising and more. Yesterday Forbes unveiled its list of the top-earning authors between June 2013 and June 2014, and genre writers were a big part of the rankings. So, which writers are pulling in the most cash?
While no one on the list could touch the number-one author -- thriller juggernaut James Patterson, who earned a whopping $90 million -- and the top five positions on the list were filled out by the likes of Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown ($28 million), romance legends Nora Roberts ($23 million) and Danielle Steel ($22 million) and mystery novelist Janet Evanovich ($20 million), genre authors still sold a lot of books. Horror legend Stephen King, who's been on the list for years, tied for sixth, as did Divergent author Veronica Roth (as well as Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney and legal thriller writer John Grisham), each earning $17 million last year. Roth's Divergent trilogy of dystopian YA novels has sold millions of copies, and earlier this year the film adaptation of the first book was a box-office hit, which will lead to a sequel. King released his sequel to The Shining, the #1 bestseller Doctor Sleep, last fall, and continues to sell a load of books from his back catalog because, well, he's Stephen King.
Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins came in seventh on the list with $16 million, thanks to the continued popularity of both the Hunger Games novels and the films they inspired. The third film based on her dystopian saga, the hugely anticipated Mockingjay Part 1, arrives this fall, so it wouldn't be surprising to see her back on the list next year. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling also continues to be a top earner, coming in eighth with $14 million, thanks in no small part to the direct sales of Potter ebooks (she owns the ebook rights to the series) she hosts on Pottermore.com. Her Potter empire isn't done expanding, either.
In ninth place we've got fantasy titan George R.R. Martin ($12 million), who's still earning big bucks thanks to the success of his A Song of Ice and Fire novels and the TV series, Game of Thrones, based on them. Thrones shows no sign of slowing down as a television phenomenon, and whenever Martin finally releases the long-awaited sixth Ice and Fire novel, it's guaranteed to be a super-bestseller. Rounding out the list for genre writers at number 11 is Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan ($10 million), whose mythology-driven children's books remain perennial hits with readers of all ages.
Many of these authors have also built media empires of a kind on the success of their novels, and their names alone are often enough to sell books, so expect many of them to be back on the Forbes list next year. As for new arrivals on the list next for 2015, what do you think? Whose genre work is about to propel them onto this list?