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JK Rowling tops World’s Highest-Paid Authors; top five gross US$235 million

The World’s Highest –Paid Authors were revealed by Forbes today, and while their annual fortunes are magical, presidential and positively criminal, in the literary sense, there were no real surprises.

JK Rowling earned US$92 million over the year. (Photo: forbes.com)

Popular books, and their usually profitable films, merchandise and inevitable sequels, have assisted some authors in dominating the conversation and make bank year on year.

According to Forbes Magazine, the top five authors earned an estimated US$235 million combined before tax and sold 18.6 million print books during the review period, June 1, 2018 to June 1, 2019.

Broadway production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. (Photo: washingtonpost.com)

Taking the top spot once more is JK Rowling, creator of the popular Harry Potter wizarding world, complete with books, films, theme parks, plays and merchandise. Rowling earned US$92 million over the period but with the final book in the primary series being released 12 years ago, book sales no longer account for much of her earnings, said Forbes. That said, Rowling still sold 2.8 million print units in the US and continues to earn big from the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Broadway production.

Next on the list is the prolific James Patterson who sold 5.5 million print units and made US$70 million, Forbes reports. He counts among his works for the period The President is Missing, a book co-written with former US President, Bill Clinton.

James Patterson sold 5.5 million books during the review year. (Photo: jamespatterson.com)

Another author who once called the White House home, former First Lady Michelle Obama, rounds out the top three thanks to the remarkable sales performance of her book, Becoming. Obama’s memoir sold in excess of 10 million copies during the review period and was the top-selling book for 2018, even though it was released with less than two months left in the year. Her US$36 million payday was bolstered by a ten-city tour which saw her speaking to sold-out venues across the US.

Author of the popular series Diary of a Wimpy Kid Jeffrey Kinney took the fourth spot, earning US$20 million and selling 3.6 million books in the US alone.

Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ sold 10 million copies during the year under review.

It took an income of at least US$17 million to make the top five, as horror marvel Stephen King rounds out the list. King sold 2.1 million domestic units during the period, said Forbes but it wasn’t enough to keep him on pace with his previous performance which was US$10 million better.

Forbes estimates earnings using information from NPD BookScan, Box Office Mojo and Pollstar Pro, industry insiders and the authors, at times.