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Monday, August 27, 2012


Each year, Forbes estimates the earnings of writers based on conversations with authors, publishers, and others, as well as reference materials like the Nielsen BookScan numbers. On the 2012 list of top-earning scribes you'll see some familiar names but there's at least one big headline: Female authors are making in-roads on a list that some years has seemed to be an old-boys club. Check out the 15 writers who made the cut in 2012.

15. Rick Riordan

The author of children's series like the "Percy Jackson" books and the "Kane Chronicles" is estimated to have pulled in $13 million this year. Riordan's "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" was adapted into a film of the same name in 2010.

14. Ken Follett

Follett is known for his fantastic fictional book "Pillars of the Earth," which was adapted into a Starz miniseries in 2010. He has also written numerous thrillers such as "Lie Down with Lions." Forbes estimated that Follett earned $14 million this year. The second book in his "Century" trilogy, titled "Winter of the World," is due out this September.

13. Stephenie Meyer

Although the last book of her "Twilight" quartet was released in 2008, Meyer is still estimated to have earned $14 million this year. The adored and reviled series about a teenage girl who falls in love with a vampire is often credited with kicking off a craze for the undead.

12. George R.R. Martin

Martin's "Game of Thrones" – the first book of "Song of Ice and Fire" series – was adapted into a hit HBO series that began in 2011 and is still running. The book series still has two installments to go, according to the writer. Forbes estimated Martin earned $15 million this year.

11. J.K. Rowling

The creator of the "Harry Potter" series released her last book (maybe) about the boy wizard in 2007 and the final "Potter" movie came out in 2011, but the magic continues as Forbes estimates Rowling's 2012 earnings at $17 million.

10. Dean Koontz

Koontz has penned many thrillers and is currently in the middle of his "Odd Thomas" series, with the next title due out in 2013. Many of his books, including "Demon Seed," have been adapted into movies, and plans are afoot to turn "Odd Thomas" into a film starring "Like Crazy" actor Anton Yelchin. Forbes estimated Koontz's 2012 earnings at $19 million.

9. Suzanne Collins

The "Hunger Games" author released the last book of her trilogy in 2010, but the first movie adaption of the series – "The Hunger Games" – came out this March. Forbes estimates that Collins earned $20 million in 2012.

8. Danielle Steel

Steel is known for her romance novels and has had many of her books turned into TV or feature movies, with an adaptation of "Hotel Vendome" set to be released in 2013. She most likely earned $23 million in 2012, according to Forbes.

7. Nora Roberts

The prolific author publishes many romance novels and is set to release two more books before the end of the year. Many of her books, including "Carolina Moon," have become feature films, and Forbes estimated that Roberts earned $23 million in 2012.

6. Bill O'Reilly

The conservative TV host, who hit it big this year with his book "Killing Lincoln," is due to release another title called "Killing Kennedy" in October. He most likely pulled in $24 million this year, according to Forbes.

5. Jeff Kinney

The writer behind the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series – which has a new installment due out this November – saw his series adapted for the big screen for the first time in 2010. This summer, there was a sequel titled "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days." Forbes estimates Kinney's 2012 earnings at $25 million.

4. John Grisham

Previously known for his legal thrillers, this year Grisham released "Calico Joe," a novel built around a drama originating on the baseball diamond. Several of Grisham's books have been adapted for the screen, including "Runaway Jury," and Forbes estimates he took in $26 million this year.

3. Janet Evanovich

Evanovich is the author of the "Stephanie Plum" series, about a bounty hunter from New Jersey. The 19th installment of that series is due for release this November. A "Stephanie Plum" novel was adapted for film for the first time this January with "One for the Money," starring Katherine Heigl. Evanovich earned an estimated $33 million this year, according to Forbes.

2. Stephen King

The horror writer released a sci-fi title, "11/22/63," this year as well as a new title in his "Dark Tower" series, and he's due to publish a novel, "Joyland," as well as a sequel to his classic novel, "The Shining." Multiple adaptations of his works – including a TV or feature film version of "The Dark Tower" that has languished in development – are planned. King most likely took in $39 million this year, said Forbes.

1. James Patterson

The crime novelist ranked as No. 1 on Forbes' list. This should come as no surprise considering that Patterson published 13 novels this year, including a new installment in his "Alex Cross" series, about a psychologist who often works with the government. Titles of his such as "Along Came a Spider" have been adapted for TV and film, and a movie adaptation of his "Maximum Ride" series is planned for 2013. Forbes estimates Patterson's 2012 earnings at $94 million.

Molly Driscoll

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