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Riches in Writing: The World's Wealthiest Authors

They wrote their way to the top

We don't generally equate profession writing with loads of wealth. There are, however, plenty of exceptions. While we don’t see too many novelists on the cover of Forbes Magazine, plenty of our favorite writers are members of the multimillionaires club and there’s even a name on the billionaire’s list. For any and all aspiring writers with a side gig, take note that every writer on this list had a non-writing job before their books made it big.

J.K. Rowling

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Rowling had a bit of a rocky start. She received several rejections from publishers, but ultimately success hit and when it did, it hit hard. Years after the earth-shattering success of her Harry Potter series (which made book sales history) and the film adaptions that followed, Rowling has accumulated a net worth of one billion dollars. She is the first author to reach the billionaires club and has one of the largest private estates in the United Kingdom.

James Patterson

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Rowling may be the only billionaire in the literary world, but James Patterson has come pretty close. He’s currently listed among the world’s wealthiest celebrities and for good reason; his yearly salary is roughly 90 million dollars which has added up to a net worth of roughly $470 billion. It goes without saying that Patterson has written many bestselling books, but that wouldn’t even cover it. He’s also the author of many bestselling series and has seen several of his works adapted into feature films. Patterson began his career at an advertising agency but retired as soon as he was able to write full time. It looks like he certainly made the right choice. 

Stephen King

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Is it really good to be a king? Stephen King would probably say so. We all know how many novels he’s published. Of those vast numbers, over 50 have spent considerable time on the bestseller list. He’s sold over 350 million books so far and shows no signs of slowing down. Many of his books have been adapted into films as well. He's also experimented with bold publishing techniques with works such as The Green Mile, with great feedback. For someone who started out as a high school teacher, King hasn’t done too badly. His current net worth is roughly $400 million. 

Danielle Steel

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King’s net worth is impressive, but Danielle Steel isn’t too far behind. Her current book sales reach over 800 million and are steadily increasing. Before finding incredible success as an author, Steel worked in both advertising and public relations, not unlike Patterson. These days she’s doing pretty well, though, with a net worth of roughly 385 million. It should be noted that she’s been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for remaining on the bestseller list for 381 weeks in a row.

John Grisham

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Not every writer starts out with the goal of becoming one. Such was the case for a young Southern lawyer named John Grisham, who was inspired to try his hand at writing after being moved by a 12-year-old girl’s testimony. Like Rowling, Grisham faced initial rejection from several publishers. That didn’t last too long, though. Since the publication of his bestselling 1991 novel, The Firm, he’s put out at least one novel per year and has had many other bestsellers. Several of his works have been adapted into successful films, and several more will be coming within the next few years. With a yearly salary of $20 million, Grisham’s current net worth is roughly $220 million and still growing. 

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