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The 10 Richest Authors In The World

Celebs October 25, 2016 By Hugo

Most writers will never know what it feels like to reach the upper echelons of their industry so you'll probably be hard-pressed to find a writer who isn't a tad envious of those who do. 

Here, we profile 10 writers who turned their artistic hobby into multi-million dollar fortunes and a readership beyond their wildest dreams. 


10. John Grisham- $300m 

The lawyer-turned-novelist John Grisham is one author who remained loyal to the age-old literary saying 'Write what you know.' Indeed, in a law career spanning over a decade, Grisham was inspired to write his first novel, A time to Kill following the brave testimony of a 12-year-old rape victim. While it didn't sell as many copies as Grisham would have liked, the experience encouraged him to write his second novel, the 1991 thriller The Frim, which would go onto the become a best seller.


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The success of Grisham's second novel, which would later be adapted into a film starring Tom Cruise, allowed the lawyer to turn to writing full-time, which, in a literary career spanning almost 30 years, has seen his books translated into 42 languages and accumulate sales of around 275m copies.


9. Barbara Taylor Bradford- $300m

The British-American author is perhaps known most for her 1979 classic A Woman of Substance. Selling over 30 million copies since its release, the book, according to many, is among the top 10 best-selling novels of all time and cemented her reputation as a romance novelist. 


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To date, Bradford has over 92m sales to her name, with many of her 29 novels published being turned into TV movies by her producer husband.


8. Nora Roberts- $350m

The second romance novelist featured is Nora Roberts. The American, who is famed for her work ethic (she writes 8 hours a day, 7 days a week) has proven equally adept at turning her productivity into a lucrative career with over 400m copies sold in a career spanning almost 35 years.


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More astonishingly, however, is the count of Nora's books. In fact, in 35 years, Roberts has written over 209 romance books which are mind-boggling numbers and a significant factor in Roberts' $350m net worth. 

However, while Roberts will likely write until her death, the figures are paltry in comparison to others. For instance, Isaac Asimov wrote over 400 volumes while L.Rob Hubbard, the sci-fi writer and founder of the Church of Scientology published 1084 works.  


7. Danielle Steel- $385m

Romance is already proving a common theme in this article and there's a reason: it sells in its bucketloads. But before the likes of Nicholas Sparks and John Green came onto the scene, romance novels were very much the property of one author: Danielle Steel. Still going strong at the age of 69, the pulp author shows no signs of letting up, and after publishing over 70 novels, Steel's books have sold around 800m copies.


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Such an other-worldly figure makes Danielle Steel the highest selling living author and the fourth of all time, trailing behind only Barabara Cartland (500m), William Shakespeare (2bn) and Agatha Christie (2bn.) 


6. Stephen King- $400m

The King of Horror churns out novels with such frequency you wonder if he has time for anything else. Nonetheless, King wasn't always in such an enviable position. For most of his 20s. he was an English teacher and received numerous rejections for his first novel, "Carrie". 


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Such rejection was hard to stomach, which led the author to throw the entire manuscript in the bin before his wife found it. Encouraging him to revise it and resubmit it to different publishers, Carrie would go on to sell 1 million copies in its first year of release. The rest, as you probably know, is history and King has since sold over 350m copies of his books, with the majority of them, whether they be short stories, novellas or novels, being adapted into films and television series.


5. James Patterson- $450m 

Unlike most authors on this list, Patterson was one of the few writers who studied English at both undergraduate and master's level before he finally forged a career for himself as a writer following an unsuccessful spell in advertising. Not that Patterson thinks too much about the past. After all, with 95 books to his name and an estimated 300m books sold, Patterson is probably too busy writing and breaking records to ever be reminded of a time when he wasn't successful. 


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Of the 95 novels to his name, Pattinson, who is famed for his thriller series Alex Cross, boasts 19 consecutive No. 1 New York Times bestselling novels and in recent years has sold more books than both Stephen King, Jon Grisham and Dan Brown combined.


4. Paulo Cohelo- $500m

One of the main lines in Paulo Coelho's famous novel, The Alchemist is, "It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting."  So when the story sold only 800 copies in its first print run, the Brazillian author decided to take matters into his own hands and eventually found a new publisher. As of today, "The Alchemist" has sold over 75 million copies and is the primary factor behind the Brazilian's $500m fortune.


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Because of the spiritual themes of the book, the plot has resonated with many famous faces and those who have gone on to success have often credited it with changing their lives. The book's influence has also seen the writer rack up over 39m fans on social media, making him social media's most followed author. 


3. Candy Spelling- $600m

Admittedly, Candy Spelling's wealth can be attributed to the death of her husband Aron Spelling, one of Hollywood's most prolific producers. Still, a small part of the entrepreneur, socialite and writer's wealth can still be attributed to her works, which include her autobiography Stories from Candyland. 


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As well as her best-selling autobiography, Spelling has written for numerous publications including The Huffington Post, Los Angeles Confidential and TMZ. 


2. Jim Davis- $800m 

The cartoonist and writer Jim Davis is the brains behind one of America's most beloved cats: Garfield. Beginning as a comic strip, the illustrations and stories that went with them were quickly scouted by Hollywood producers, and it wasn't long before Davis saw his creation come to life. In fact, the Garfield TV series won a plethora of Emmy's, with Jim Davis serving as a co-writer on every episode, as well the spin-off series that spawned from the show's success.


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But the world's richest male writer isn't only known for the creation of a cheeky cat. Other shows Davis has written and illustrated include Tumbleweeds, Gnorm Gnat, as well as a strip about Mr. Potato Head. 

Because of his producer and writing credits and the level of merchandise that came from the Garfield series, not to mention the comic strip being the most syndicated in print history, Jim Davis has accumulated a mind-blowing $800m fortune.


1. J.K. Rowling- $1bn

The most famous living author became the first writer to accumulate wealth beyond a billion dollars when her seven Harry Potter novels were turned into films. However, Rowling struggled to get published when she completed the first draft of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone", and when a publishing house finally accepted her at the 12th time of asking, the Scottish writer was told that there was little money in children's books.


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Years later, Rowling's last four books in the series became the fastest-selling novels of all time and gave the writer sales of well over 500m. Most recently, Rowling also broke another record when the script of the sold-out stage play 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' became the fastest selling script of all time. In the US and Canada alone, the play sold over 2m copies on its first day of release.


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