Wealthy Authors Perpetuate Myth of Successful Writing Careers

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Stephen King and J.K. Rowling are better than the rest of us, because they are insanely rich. Photo: Getty Images

While no one becomes a writer for the money, that hasn’t kept a bunch of them from raking in a crapload of ducats and making the rest of us feel more inadequate than usual. In a Forbes article ranking authors by income made between June 2007 and June 2008, J.K. Rowling made $300 million, but she has an unfair advantage with the last Harry Potter book. She makes James Patterson’s $50 million seem so … paltry. Stephen King made $45 million by rereleasing The Mist on its own and writing a novel, Duma Key, about a messed-up guy who lives on a scary island. That steady gig as an EW columnist adds up, too! The rest of the list is familiar to anyone who reads the book ads on the subway: Tom Clancy, Dean Koontz, Nicholas Sparks, et al. Our favorite success story is Janet Evanovich, whose series about “a lingerie buyer turned bounty hunter” earned the author $17 million. Finally, Ken Follett owes Oprah at least a muffin basket. By choosing Pillars of the Earth for her book club, he not only made $20 million from a book originally out in 1989 but also just signed a $50 million, three-book deal. Somewhere, Jonathan Franzen’s agent is weeping.

The World's Best-Paid Authors [Forbes]