James Patterson made $86 million in 2018, topping the list of the world’s highest-paid authors

Former President Bill Clinton, left, and author James Patterson speak during an interview in May about their new novel, "The President Is Missing," in New York.
(Bebeto Matthews / AP)

James Patterson, the famously prolific thriller author, was the highest-paid writer in the world this year, earning an estimated $86 million in royalties, Forbes magazine reports.

Patterson, who collaborated on the novel “The President Is Missing” with former President Bill Clinton this year, is a perennial on the magazine’s annual highest-paid author list. He’s taken the No. 1 spot 10 times in the 20 years Forbes has been ranking the world’s richest authors.

Coming in second was “Harry Potter” creator J.K. Rowling, who took home an estimated $54 million. She was the highest-paid author last year, when she collected $95 million from her fantasy and mystery books.


Horror master Stephen King, mystery scribe John Grisham and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” creator Jeff Kinney rounded out the top five.

There weren’t many surprises in this year’s list, but there was one newcomer to the rankings: journalist Michael Wolff, whose “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” became a huge bestseller after its release in January. Wolff, ranked No. 7 on the list after author Dan Brown, earned an estimated $13 million from the book, Forbes reports.

Rounding out the list were romance authors Danielle Steel and Nora Roberts, young adult writer Rick Riordan and “Fifty Shades of Grey” author E.L. James.

One author dropped out of the rankings this year: Paula Hawkins, who had made the list previously on the strength of her bestseller “The Girl on the Train.”