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Forbes List of Best Paid Authors

It doesn’t surprise you that JK Rowling is at the top of the list, does it? According to Forbes, Rowling has made over $300 million in the last year. Forbes says that the Potter series has sold 375 million+ copies worldwide. James Patterson comes in a distant but respectable second with a $50 million earning for the same fiscal year. I’m not sure Patterson should be counted since he runs a little mini factory in which he outlines the books and someone else writes them. Stephen King was third, followed by Tom Clancy, and finally, Danielle Steele.

I noted that in the last few publicity papers for Nora Roberts’ and JD Robb’s books that all the marketing was geared toward men. All the cover quotes were by notable male authors. If so many more women read than men, why are men selling the most books?

There are five others on the list if you are interested.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. DS
    Oct 01, 2008 @ 14:25:47

    Obviously it is the books sold plus the subsidiary rights to movies, games, etc., that count. Maybe Nora Roberts should license her bobble head. For that matter what about Nora Roberts inspired computer games?

  2. veinglory
    Oct 01, 2008 @ 19:38:25

    My best guess is that more women also write books and the supply and demand works against us. Oh, that and institutionalised sexism.

  3. Jane
    Oct 01, 2008 @ 19:49:36

    Are you saying that women have more choices and thus are more diversified?

  4. CHH
    Oct 01, 2008 @ 20:46:19

    There’s also the fact that while women will buy books written by men, men are less likely to buy books written by women. Male authors have a larger reader base than female ones. I see women reading Grisham, Patterson, and King all the time while the same cannot be said for men reading Roberts, Steele, and Johansen. The only female author who seems to be read by both males and females is JK Rowling.

  5. Persephone Green
    Oct 02, 2008 @ 00:41:49

    What CHH said.

    I read King, Patterson, and Grisham as well as JKR. Damned if I see many guys reading Steele, though.

  6. top of their game… « Collection Developments @ Sno-Isle
    Oct 02, 2008 @ 10:46:15

    […] released a list of the world’s authors who are making bank.  Jane at Dear Author raises an interesting question: “If so many more women read than men, why are men selling the most books?”  i suspect […]

  7. Ann-Kat
    Oct 02, 2008 @ 12:51:06

    The only female author who seems to be read by both males and females is JK Rowling.

    And that can also have something to do with her having used only her initials rather than her full name. I still encounter people who assume Ms. Rowling is a man. Despite the excellent writing, it makes you wonder if she’d have experienced such success if she’d gone with Joanne Rowling in the beginning. *sigh*

    I’m also noticing that other female authors may be catching on and either using their initials or shortening their names (*cough*Rob Thurman*cough*).

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