Top Ten Earning Authors
Nope, the top selling author is E. L. James, the author of Fifty Shades of Grey. I've never read her book. I'm not sure I want to.
James Patterson is right behind her, but while her fame is fleeting (only one book), James Patterson is a classic - he out-earns other authors because he writes so many books. One fifth of all hardbacks sold in the US are written by him. He's written at least 70 books spanning the genres from children's and young adult to murder mysteries and thrillers and speculative fiction.
The author of The Hunger Games is pretty hot right now. Suzanne Collins wrote an entire other series called the Underland Chronicles. The Underland Chronicles was written for a younger audience than the Hunger Games, and are delightful books that deserve much more recognition than they are getting.
In 4th place is Bill O'Reilly. It's kind of odd to see a political commenter as a best selling author, but there it is. He doesn't have an author's page to link to so I'll link to his publisher's page.
Danielle Steel is another long haul high earning author like James Patterson - her prolific output is what earns and keeps her in the Top Ten of authors. She's written nearly 100 books. Her upcoming book is one I am anticipating: Pure Joy. It's about her long haired Chihuahua, Minnie Mouse. It's also about some of her other dogs, too; a personal memoir through her pets.
And that's the top five earning authors.
The others in the Top Ten are:
Jeff Kinney - young adult SF (Diary of a Wimpy Kid series)
Janet Evanovich - Stephanie Plum detective series
Nora Roberts - Romance
Dan Brown - Suspense thriller
Stephen King - Horror
Note that 5 of the Top Ten earning authors are prolific authors. They keep their names out there, write lots of books (decent ones, that remain well edited). The other 5 have a hook, a marketing scheme, a movie tie-in and their earnings aren't just their royalty checks.
The lesson, boys and girls, is that to earn lost of money in writing, you must not just be good, you must be prolific or have an excellent marketable product that translates into movies, T-shirts, posters, mugs, figurines, playsets, games, and other collectible things.
Being a great author isn't enough. You gotta be good and prolific or good and have a marketable hook. You have to be good and.