Top 25 Richest Writers: Learn From Their Success

Yes, you really can make quite a living as a writer — and this list of the top 25 richest writers in the world proves it.

While not everyone who puts a pen to paper becomes a millionaire (or a billionaire, in the case of J.K. Rowling), plenty of writers earn a pretty penny showing off their literary expertise. 

Here, we'll explore the top 25 richest writers in the world — you may be surprised to see who made the cut. 

Top 25 Richest Writers 

Top richest writers

1. J.K. Rowling

Net worth: $1 billion

British author J.K. Rowling is best known for the Harry Potter series — the series has sold more than 500 million copies, cementing Rowling's place in the billionaires club. The blockbuster movie franchise went on to wow muggles around the world. 

Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.

J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter: The Complete Collection (1-7)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Rowling, J.K. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 4069 Pages - 12/14/2015 (Publication Date) - Pottermore Publishing (Publisher)

2. James Patterson

Net worth: $750 million

Bestseller James Patterson is known for his thriller novels, including The Noise: A Thriller and the bestselling legal thriller The Jailhouse Lawyer. Patterson's fictional hero, Alex Cross, keeps readers on the edge of their seats throughout each of the American author's best-selling books.hyv

Somebody said the key to life is to work hard, play hard, rest hard, and I’ve pretty much adopted that.

James Patterson
The Noise: A Thriller
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Patterson, James (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 433 Pages - 08/16/2021 (Publication Date) - Little, Brown and Company (Publisher)

3. Candy Spelling

Net worth: $600 million

Wife of famed screenwriter Aaron Spelling, Candy Spelling's wealth isn't just from her books. The American writer's tell-all book, Stories from Candyland, tells the stories of growing up as the wife of one of Hollywood's greats. 

It's a constant work in progress. Ours is just more exposed, I think. People just have to keep that in mind. It's not that it's so bad.

Candy Spelling
Sale
Stories from Candyland: Confections from One of Hollywood's Most Famous Wives and Mothers
  • Hardcover Book
  • Spelling, Candy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 248 Pages - 03/31/2009 (Publication Date) - St. Martin's Press (Publisher)

4. Paulo Coelho

Net worth: $500 million

Coelho's best-known novel, The Alchemist, was originally written in Portuguese and was later translated to English and 79 other languages. The best-selling author is also known for The Pilgrimage and Warrior of the Light: A Manual.

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

Paulo Coelho
Sale
The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Paulo Coelho (Author) - Jeremy Irons (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 12/26/2004 (Publication Date) - HarperAudio (Publisher)

5. Stephen King

Richest Writers: Stephen King
Suspense thriller author Stephen King is known for his New York Times bestsellers

Net worth: $400 million

From Carrie to Billy Summers to The Shining, suspense thriller author Stephen King is known for his New York Times bestsellers — the American author has sold more than 350 books worldwide.

If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write.

Stephen King
Sale
Billy Summers
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Stephen King (Author) - Paul Sparks (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 08/03/2021 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster Audio (Publisher)

6. Danielle Steel

Net worth: $385 million

American novelist Danielle Steel is a bestselling romance author. From her first novel, Summer's End, published in 1979, fans have kept coming back for more from this American author. 

I wrote because I needed to and wanted to. It never occurred to me that I'd become famous.

Danielle Steel
Sale
The Right Time
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Danielle Steel (Author) - Victor Bevine (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 09/18/2017 (Publication Date) - W. F. Howes Ltd (Publisher)

7. Nora Roberts

Net worth: $370 million

With bestsellers like Playing the Odds and The Liar, Nora Roberts's romance novels have spent a combined 176 weeks at the number one slot on the New York Times bestseller list.

I don't think you can write – at least not well – if you don't love stories, love the written word.

Nora Roberts
Sale
Legacy: A Novel
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Nora Roberts (Author) - January LaVoy (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 05/25/2021 (Publication Date) - Macmillan Audio (Publisher)

8. Pleasant Rowland 

Net worth: $310 million

The founder of the American Girl series of books worked to create a world in which young girls could see their heroines as capable and strong. Many fans of the series remember how Rowland's books taught them about history while also delivering a captivating story.

You can spend your life looking over your shoulder or looking ahead. I choose to look ahead. 

You can spend your life looking over your shoulder or looking ahead. I choose to look ahead. 

Pleasant Rowland
Adventures of the Superkids - Reader - Level 3 (Superkids reading program)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Pleasant T. Rowland (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 144 Pages - 12/04/2021 (Publication Date) - Rowland Reading Foundation (Publisher)

9. Barbara Taylor Bradford

Net worth: $300 million

Her first novel, A Woman of Substance, set author Barbara Taylor Bradford's career on fire. Six more books followed in the series, cementing the English author's place in literary history. The series follows Emma Harte, a young, poor woman determined to rise above her circumstances. 

I work eight hours a day, but I'm not writing all that time. I'm thinking, editing, looking something up. Thinking is what I do a lot of.

Barbara Taylor Bradford
Sale
A Man of Honor
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Barbara Taylor Bradford (Author) - Peter Campion (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 12/28/2021 (Publication Date) - Macmillan Audio (Publisher)

10. John Grisham

Net worth: $300 million 

Today, John Grisham has sold more than 300 million books worldwide. His rise to fame started with his first book, A Time to Kill. Grisham wrote the book when he was still a practicing attorney. 

In life, finding a voice is speaking and living the truth. Each of you is an original. Each of you has a distinctive voice. When you find it, your story will be told. You will be heard.

John Grisham
Sale
The Judge's List: A Novel
  • Audible Audiobook
  • John Grisham (Author) - Mary-Louise Parker, John Grisham (Narrators)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 10/19/2021 (Publication Date) - Random House Audio (Publisher)

11. Tom Clancy

Net worth: $300 million 

Many of Tom Clancy's best novels have been made into hit Hollywood films, including The Hunt for Red October. Sadly, Clancy passed away in 2013.

The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.

Tom Clancy
Sale
Tom Clancy Target Acquired
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Don Bentley (Author) - Scott Brick (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 06/08/2021 (Publication Date) - Random House Audio (Publisher)

12. Olivia Harrison 

Net worth: $275 million 

The widow of famed Beatle George Harrison, Olivia Harrison, has worked as a producer, author, and philanthropist. Beatles fans love how Harrison provided an insider's look at her famed husband. 

The moment you’re talking about is now. I can’t say I’m really prepared. I almost don’t want people to see it. It’s like showing everybody into your most private place. But at the same time, I think it’s important.

Olivia Harrison
Sale
George Harrison: Living in the Material World
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Hardcover Book
  • Harrison, Olivia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages - 09/27/2011 (Publication Date) - Harry N. Abrams (Publisher)

13. Allison DuBois

Net worth: $200 million 

Allison DuBois isn't just an author — she's also a psychic. The TV series Medium was based on DuBois and how she used her psychic prowess to solve crimes. 

Figuring out our gifts in life is part of our journey to becoming enlightened human beings.

Allison DuBois
Sale
We Are Their Heaven: Why the Dead Never Leave Us
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Allison DuBois (Author) - Allison DuBois (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 05/08/2006 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster Audio (Publisher)

14. Jeffrey Archer

Net worth: $200 million

London-born Archer is most famous for his writings while incarcerated for perjury. After his release from prison, he continued to write bestsellers, including the series Clifton Chronicles

Making a million legally has always been difficult. Making a million illegally has always been a little easier. Keeping a million when you have made it is perhaps the most difficult of all.

Jeffrey Archer
Sale
Nothing Ventured
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Jeffrey Archer (Author) - George Blagden (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 09/03/2019 (Publication Date) - Macmillan Audio (Publisher)

15. R.L. Stine

Net worth: $200 million 

Kids around the world remember R.L Stine's Goosebumps series as a spooky, riveting part of their childhood. To date, Stine has sold over 400 million books worldwide. 

Many adults feel that every children's book has to teach them something… My theory is a children's book… can be just for fun.

R.L. Stine

16. Jackie Collins

Net worth: $180 million 

A multi-hyphenate, Jackie Collins is known for her writing skills and her acting chops. All 32 of her books have become New York Times bestsellers.

Do not copy my style! The first rule of writing is write about what you know, not what you think you know. So, think about what you've done in your life and write about that.

Jackie Collins
Hollywood Wives (1)
  • Collins, Jackie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 560 Pages - 08/01/1987 (Publication Date) - Pocket Books (Publisher)

17. Michael Crichton

Net worth: $175 million 

Before his death in 2008, Crichton's work was known around the world. Both The Andromeda Strain and the Jurassic Park series were turned into Hollywood hits. Crichton also worked as a producer and director. 

Books aren't written – they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.

Michael Crichton
Sale
The Andromeda Strain
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Michael Crichton (Author) - David Morse (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 05/26/2015 (Publication Date) - Brilliance Audio (Publisher)

18. Dan Brown

Richest writer: Dan Brown
Dan Brown's name is synonymous with Hollywood hits

Net worth: $160 million 

With bestsellers like The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, Dan Brown's name is synonymous with Hollywood hits. The American author has sold over 200 million books worldwide. 

Nothing is more creative… nor destructive… than a brilliant mind with a purpose.

Dan Brown
Sale
The Lost Symbol
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Dan Brown (Author) - Paul Michael (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 09/15/2009 (Publication Date) - Random House Audio (Publisher)

19. David Oyedepo

Net worth: $150 million 

A Nigerian preacher, Oyedepo's religious texts have made him one of the richest writers in the world. Oyedepo currently serves as the Bishop of Faith Tabernacle in Ota, Nigeria. 

When you know and understand what God is saying, and walk in the light of it, you live in the realm of the miraculous.

David Oyedepo
Success Systems
  • Bishop David Oyedepo (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 235 Pages - 12/04/2021 (Publication Date) - DOMINION PUBLISHING HOUSE (Publisher)

20. Dean Koontz

Net worth: $145 million 

Author of bestsellers including Intensity and Watchers, Koontz is known as the Master of Suspense. Koontz had success from the start of his writing career, with his first novel, Whispers, hitting the bestseller list. 

I like to deal with EVERY aspect of our condition, and that means terror and humor in equal mix. Some books have more room for humor than others.

Dean Koontz
Sale
The Other Emily
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Dean Koontz (Author) - MacLeod Andrews (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 03/23/2021 (Publication Date) - Brilliance Audio (Publisher)

21. Mary Higgins Clark 

Net worth: $140 million 

American suspense author Mary Higgins Clark got a late start in her writing career, releasing her first book at age 43. Since then, she's had 51 bestsellers in the United States and has sold more than 100 million copies of her books around the world.

When someone is mean to me, I just make them a victim in my next book.

Mary Higgins Clark
Sale
Piece of My Heart
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Alafair Burke (Author) - January LaVoy (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 11/17/2020 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster Audio (Publisher)

22. Stephenie Meyer 

Net worth: $125 million 

Author of the Twilight series, Stephenie Meyer had teens (and adults) on the edge of their seats for years with both her books and the blockbuster hits that followed. In 2021, Meyer released Midnight Sun, the tale of the Twilight saga from a previously untold perspective.

Sometimes, fact mixed with fiction so thoroughly that, though no lies were told, it was hard to remember what was strictly true.

Stephenie Meyer
Sale
Midnight Sun
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Stephenie Meyer (Author) - Jake Abel (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 08/04/2020 (Publication Date) - Hachette Audio (Publisher)

23. Clive Cussler

Net worth: $120 million 

Cussler wasn't just known for his writing — he was also known as an underwater explorer. Cussler wrote thriller-style novels following the adventures of main character Dirk Pitt. Sadly, Cussler passed away in 2020.

I am not like Stephen King, who writes one book, then writes another. I finish a book and go off and… look for wrecks. Then, six months later, I might start another book.

Clive Cussler
Sale
Fast Ice: The NUMA Files, Book 16
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Clive Cussler (Author) - Scott Brick (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 03/09/2021 (Publication Date) - Penguin Audio (Publisher)

24. Janet Evanovich

Net worth: $120 million 

Evanovich writes quick romance novels that give readers a much-needed escape from the mundanity of day-to-day life. The American author has sold over 100 million books, and 25 of her novels have become bestsellers. 

Romance novels are birthday cake and life is often peanut butter and jelly. I think everyone should have lots of delicious romance novels lying around for those times when the peanut butter of life gets stuck to the roof of your mouth.

Janet Evanovich
Sale
Game On: Tempting Twenty-Eight (A Stephanie Plum Novel, Book 28)
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Janet Evanovich (Author) - Lorelei King (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 11/02/2021 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster Audio (Publisher)

25. Wolfgang Puck 

Net worth: $90 million

World-renowned chef Wolfgang Puck is dedicated to helping budding culinary phenoms in home kitchens by sharing his knowledge in a variety of cookbooks. The Beverly Hills-based chef has many top cookbooks, including Wolfgang Puck Makes It Easy and Live, Love, Eat!

A good chef has to be a manager, a businessman, and a great cook. To marry all three together is sometimes difficult.

Wolfgang Puck
Wolfgang Puck Makes It Healthy: Light, Delicious Recipes and Easy Exercises for a Better Life
  • Hardcover Book
  • Puck, Wolfgang (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 03/18/2014 (Publication Date) - Grand Central Life & Style (Publisher)

Final Word on Richest Writers

It's clear: writers who want to make a living from their novels need to hone in on their chosen genre and work to develop their individualistic style. Next time you head out to see the latest hit movie, be sure to learn more about the book that inspired it — and maybe even pick up the book to hear the story directly from the writer. 

FAQs on Richest Writers

Who is the richest writer in the world?

J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, is the richest writer in the world with a net worth of $1 billion. 

Who is the most surprising person on the richest writers list?

Many people are surprised to find that chef Wolfgang Puck is one of the richest writers in the world due to the sales of his beloved cookbooks. 

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