James Patterson, who is a business all unto himself (it's pretty well known that he doesn't write every single word of every single novel himself, you know--and how could he? He published 11 books last year), tops the list of highest-paid authors overwhelmingly.
Note that these staggering figures are not net worth; they're an estimate of how much each writer earned in 2011.
Forbes magazine reports that the estimates were made by "talk[ing] to authors, agents, publishers and other experts and review[ing] data including Nielsen BookScan sales figures."
Poets, essayists, writers of short stories and literary fiction--I'm sorry. Apparently to crack this list you have to write about torrid romance, dismembered bodies, serial killers, vampires, or, possibly, brilliant attorneys duking in out in high courtroom drama. Selling movie rights doesn't hurt. Or you could try porn; E.L. James is fully expected to make this list for 2012.
Read 'em and weep.
- James Patterson ($94 million)
- Stephen King ($39 million)
- Janet Evanovich ($33 million)
- John Grisham ($26 million)
- Jeff Kinney ($25 million)
- Bill O'Reilly ($24 million)
- Nora Roberts ($23 million)
- Danielle Steel ($23 million)
- Suzanne Collins ($20 million)
- Dean Koontz ($19 million)
- J.K. Rowling ($17 million)
- George R.R. Martin ($15 million)
- Stephenie Meyer ($14 million)
- Ken Follett ($14 million)
- Rick Riordan ($13 million)