ByTom Bacon, writer at
I'm a film-and-TV fan who grew up with a deep love of superhero comics! Follow me on Twitter @TomABacon or on Facebook @tombaconsuperheroes!
Tom Bacon

Who says a delayed train is a bad thing? Back in 1990, a dull wait on the line from Manchester to London gave single-mother J. K. Rowling a chance to sit back, relax, and dream up a wizarding world that would ultimately become an international sensation. No stranger to poverty, by 2008 Rowling was literally the wealthiest author in the world. Incredibly, almost a decade later, she's back at the top once again!

What Wizardry Is This?

has always been a savvy businesswoman. The Harry Potter books may have ended in 2007, but since then, Rowling has carefully kept the brand alive. Take the brilliant Pottermore site, which is a fantastic tool for driving fan engagement while promoting ebooks of the beloved Harry Potter stories. And with 2017 marking the 20-year anniversary of the franchise, Bloomsbury has been republishing the books with exclusive new covers, which have been flying off the shelves. It's the perfect chance for a new generation to fall in love with the Boy Who Lived.

That said, incredibly, Forbes has calculated that Rowling earned $95 million in the last year up until May 31st. To give you an idea, that figure's the equivalent of $180 every minute. In the time it takes you to read this article, J. K. Rowling will have earned roughly $450. No surprise, Rowling's income has increased by an eye-popping $76 million over the last 12 months, a figure that leaves even Forbes staggered.

The trick? Rowling's wizarding world has been revisited on both stage and screen, with the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and the launch of the film series. Both have been supported by Bloomsbury, with the scripts initially published in glossy hardcovers and recently followed up by paperback versions. Alchemists may have dreamed of turning lead into gold, but Rowling might as well have learned a spell to make gold materialize out of thin air!

The Top 10 Richest Authors

According to Forbes, the other richest authors are:

  • Rick Riordan, best-known for the Percy Jackson series. His young adult series is big news, although the film adaptations didn't really pick up as we'd hoped. He's tied with romance author Danielle Steel, who's been a constant presence on this list over the years.
  • E.L. James, author of the Fifty Shades series, who's seen her fortunes fall to "just" $11.5 million. She hasn't published any novels over the last year, and that's hurt.
  • The Girl on the Train brought Paula Hawkins success last year, and was swiftly adapted into a film. Her latest book, Into the Water, is just as successful. She's now clocking in at $13 million, and shows no sign of slowing down.
  • Romance author Nora Roberts and literary legend John Grisham are tied at $14 million. Roberts saw her business boom with Come Sundown, which debuted at the top of the New York times bestseller list, while Grisham's The Whistler was the third-bestselling book of the year.
  • Up next we have another legend, Stephen King. His 55th novel, End of Watch, helped bring his income last year to a stunning $15 million. Meanwhile, King's books continue to be the basis for countless Hollywood adaptations.
  • The latest movie adaptation may have failed to impress, but Dan Brown is still worth an impressive $20 million.
  • A frequent name on Forbes's lists, Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is still going strong after a decade on the bookshelves. Forbes report that he's worth $21 million.
  • Coming in at second place, America's richest author James Patterson is estimated to be worth $87 million. Several of his works are being adapted for films, TV shows, and comics; that value is sure to increase over the next year.

Forbes producer Hayley Cuccinello expects the next year to be an interesting one for this list. She doesn't believe Rowling's income will stay this high:

"Unless Rowling releases another bestselling book in time for next year’s list, her earnings will almost certainly dip dramatically and she’ll likely relinquish first place."

With not due for release until November 2018, Rowling is unlikely the maintain pole position. Of course, she's still likely to take home a considerable chunk of money in 2017. She's also sure to put the money to good use; in 2011, she lost billionaire status after giving away a stunning $160 million to charity in a single year.

Who is your favorite author? Let us know in the comments!

(Sources: Forbes, Guardian)


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