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E.L. James is top author (of five) on Forbes' Celebrity 100 list

AuthorsBookMedia IndustryStephen KingLady GagaOprah WinfreyThe Shining (movie)

When does an author know she's made it? Is it when her first book is published, she gets a deal with a major publisher, her book tops bestseller lists, the movie contracts are signed? All those things have happened in the last year or so to virtually unknown writer E.L. James, thanks to her erotic novels "Fifty Shades of Grey," "Fifty Shades Darker" and "Fifty Shades Freed." Now Forbes has given her another measure of success, placing her at No. 42 on its Celebrity 100 list.

While James isn't at the top -- Oprah is No. 1 -- she is the highest ranking author on the 2013 list.

Forbes methodology has something to do with annual earnings, but that's not all. Social media impact and other more ephemeral measures, like marketability, are part of how the celebrities place on the list. Soccer stars have a large presence; baseball players do not. It's kind of nice that authors make the list at all.

Close behind James is James Patterson. The thriller writer, who has gathered a significant team of co-writers, is tremendously prolific -- Forbes notes that he had 29 different titles on e-book bestseller lists in the last year. He's No. 49 on Forbes' list.

Next up, author-wise, is Stephen King. King, who publishes a big book every year or two, often makes the list; this time he's at No. 75. Forbes cited his upcoming novel -- "Doctor Sleep," a sequel to "The Shining" -- as well as his TV deals. King's "Under the Dome" is a 13-part mini-series airing this summer, based on his novel of the same name.

J.K. Rowling comes in at No. 82. This year, the wealthy author doesn't have any new Harry Potter movie money coming in. Also, Forbes was unimpressed by her first novel for adults, "The Casual Vacancy."

The last author on the list also landed there for her books for young adults: That's Suzanne Collins, author of "The Hunger Games." Her apocalyptic trilogy has two more films left in the franchise, so she may stay on the list -- or in the future, move up from No. 87.

The list is, of course, pretty silly. Lady Gaga is No. 2? Lady who?

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Carolyn Kellogg: Join me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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