Pub Rants

World’s Best Paid Authors

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STATUS: I’m actually heading out of the office early to finish up a client edit. It’s just easier to do that when I’m not answering the phone or checking emails.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? HALFWAY HOME by TV On The Radio

At least according to Forbes. I imagine all of you can guess who heads the top of that list.

Harry Potter anyone?

I have to say that I was a little surprised not to see Nora Roberts’ name there. Seems to me that she overtook Danielle Steele years ago. Maybe that’s only in volume of novels published per year rather than in dollar signs. I really don’t know.

And before y’all get stars in your eyes, I wouldn’t buy into the idea that writing is your path to riches. It can be but it’s probably up there with getting struck by lightening or winning the lottery.

It has to happen to somebody (of course) but if you’re a writer, I wouldn’t count on it. Writing has to be your passion and if good things follow, monetarily, for you—hooray!

I know. I know. You are all going to dream big anyway. Can’t say I blame you.

22 Responses

  1. Anonymous said:

    It’s more than a little sickening to know that James Patterson made 50 million last year. He doesn’t even write half his own books anymore — simply writes an outline and then lets a “co-author” actually do the hard slog of writing.

    Doesn’t seem like that should count, for some reason.

    Or am I just being bitter?

  2. C.D. Reimer said:

    I’m happy to get paid for my first published short story. An astounding $3.02 but no contributor’s copy. But that will add my mystique in ten years when I’m raking in the funny money.

  3. Kasie West said:

    I’m not asking for much. I just want to see my book in print…and maybe get a little money for it…and possibly enjoy a tiny bit of fame…a few stalker fans…a billboard in Times Square with a huge picture of my smug face on it…an appearance on Oprah…Is that too much to ask for? Maybe I’ll start with the first thought mentioned and go from there. 🙂

  4. nomadshan said:

    I already get paid to write — as a grant writer. I just want to earn a greater percentage of my income through fiction and less from writing proposals. If I can earn a modest living through fiction, I’ll be very happy. 🙂

  5. Kathleen said:

    I wondered where Nora fit in, too. Her names up there continuously… a lot more often then Danielle Steele, I thought.

    But who knows. Danielle Steele doesn’t seem to have the respect that Nora has, and of the two, I’d take the respect. (Not that I don’t respect her, it’s just that people don’t call her “The Danielle.”)

  6. Amy Nathan said:

    Gotta dream, I just try to do it with my feet on the ground. I appreciate that you understand a writer’s need to think beyond the probable — because I believe if an author works with an agent who doesn’t want her (or him) todream, the motivation and the best work will stop — on both their parts.

  7. Heidi the Hick said:

    Just wanna get paid for all the work I’ve done, so I don’t have to get a job at the coffee shop and can pay for groceries and hay for the large critters. Oh, and not have to work at the coffee shop, therefore having more time to WRITE!

  8. jeanoram said:

    Stars are now officially in my eyes!

    I now have something to measure myself against. I know where others are topping out and where I want to aim. It is always good to have a goal or idea of where you would like to go. 🙂

  9. Suzanne said:

    I’d be happy with a measly $1 or 2 million a year, I’m not greedy.

    I was happy to see Stephen King’s name on the list because his books have provided so much guilty pleasure over the years and he’s a hard worker!

  10. doortoriver said:

    *laughs* Dream big, yes – but as long as I’m published (and staying in print, and distributed), being paid the Most in the World isn’t quite as big a deal to me. There are a lot of us who just want people to glean from our writing from what gleaned from others’.

    (Though I most certainly would not say ‘no’ to a very high-paying contract!)

  11. Anette J Kres said:

    As you said… It will happen to someone… We may as well hope/dream/fantisize that it will be us, right?

    Odds are bad, but still… it COULD be…

  12. AC said:

    JKR can keep her Scottish castle; I mostly just want people to read what I write. But if I could earn enough as a novelist to quit my day job (where, ok, I’m a journalist so people are reading what I’m’s not the same) I’d be thrilled.

  13. Yoda47 said:

    I must admit, I have daydreams of making it big…

    The reason I write, however, is because I enjoy it, and I have a story I have to tell. Even if the only ones to read it are my family, I’ve still had fun writing.

  14. Anonymous said:

    I think if you are talented, have an interesting platform and a good agent there’s no reason why writing can’t lead to a comfy upper-middle class life. My parents both did it and, enshallah, so will I…

  15. Sara Merrick said:

    Just heard a sobering story in my writer’s group about a talented first time author who earned a huge advance, “Never has to work again,” but the book hasn’t sold in the numbers it needs to justify that advance. There’s a real concern that the next book won’t be published. I’d love to be financially successful — but I also want to continue to write and have readers. Readers — that’s my dream.

  16. Anonymous said:

    I’d be happy with just seeing my books on bookstore shelves. I’d be freakin’ ecstatic if I somehow managed to make enough money to maintain a moderately comfortable middle-class lifestyle without working my day job. So no, not dreaming all that big.

  17. Deaf Brown Trash Punk said:

    sigh. So mainstream fiction writers make more $$$ than literary fiction writers…

    I can write literary fiction, but you can’t pay me to write commercial paperback $5.99 novels. Not that I’m knockin’ these writers, but I just can’t.