Fifty Shades of Grey's E L James Leads Forbes' List of Top-Earning Authors

Best-selling scribe, who is trailed by James Patterson and Suzanne Collins, reportedly pocketed $95 million within the last year

By Alexis L. Loinaz Aug 14, 2013 3:50 PMTags
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Grey is turning into loads of green for E L James.

The Fifty Shades of Grey author has topped Forbes' list of top-earning authors, her kink-laden literary saga fueling a pop-culture phenomenon that has since spawned a merchandising blitz, culinary spoof and high-profile movie adaptation that's currently in production.

Not too shabby for a tome that started out as Twilight fan fiction.

Per Forbes, James, who became the fastest-selling author in history after moving 70 million units of Grey in its first eight months, pocketed a cool $95 million between June 2012 and June 2013, including a reported $5 million for the movie rights. The film adaptation, which is being directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, is expected to hit theaters in August 2014.

Coming in second on the list is James Patterson, with $91 million in earnings buoyed by his Witch & Wizard and Maximum Ride series, followed by Suzanne Collins, whose Hunger Games YA saga funneled $55 million into her coffers.

Other authors who made the cut include Fox firebrand Bill O'Reilly ($28 million, goosed by his Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy books), four-decade romance mainstay Danielle Steel ($26 million), conspiracy theorist extraordinaire Dan Brown ($22 million) and the prolific Stephen King ($20 million).

And although Harry Potter is far, far behind in her rear-view mirror, J.K. Rowling still managed to score a berth on the list.

She earned $13 million last year and stayed on the radar thanks to her first non-Potter novel, The Casual Vacancy, as well as her surprise crime thriller The Cuckoo's Calling, which she wrote under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. Sneaky, sneaky.