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JK Rowling jumps to world's third top-earning author

Published 03/08/2016

JK Rowling is pipped to the top slot by James Patterson and Jeff Kinney
JK Rowling is pipped to the top slot by James Patterson and Jeff Kinney

JK Rowling has climbed up the Forbes' ranking of the world's richest authors but still failed to steal this year's top spot from US author James Patterson.

As her Cursed Child stage play takes over London, the legacy of her Harry Potter books, including two Wizarding World theme parks, has seen Rowling leap from seventh to third place, although her estimated earnings of $19 million (£14.2m) remain the same as for 2015.

Crime writer Patterson is the highest-earning author in the world for the third year in a row with $95 million (£71.2m) pre-tax, while Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney comes in a distant second place with $19.5 million (£14.6m).

Patterson will likely claim the title next year too. He launched his own children's imprint with Little, Brown & Company in 2015 and has released a new line of bite-size, low-priced novellas called BookShots.

Forbes' list, which is compiled from Nielsen's official book sale figures and expert analysis for the twelve months from June 1 2015, sees only one newcomer for 2016.

British author Paula Hawkins, who wrote The Girl on the Train, debuts in joint ninth place with an estimated haul of $10 million (£7.5m) alongside Young Adult (YA) authors John Green, writer of The Fault in Our Stars, and Veronica Roth, who penned the Divergent trilogy.

Former financial journalist Hawkins' novel has sold 11 million copies, according to Forbes, and the best-seller is being made into a film starring Emily Blunt, out later this year.

She overtook Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, who came joint twelfth with earnings of $9.5million (£7.1m), despite fans already suffering a five-year wait for the sixth instalment of his A Song of Ice and Fire series.

Martin, who last year was 15th on the ranking with $12 million (£9m), draws level-pegging with Inferno author Dan Brown and YA author Rick Riordan, who released The Hidden Oracle, the first of his new The Trials of Apollo series, in May this year.

John Grisham, known for his legal thrillers, came fourth with $18 million (£13.5m), while horror author Stephen King and romance novelists Danielle Steel and Nora Roberts came joint fifth, amassing $15million (£11.2m).

It is a noticeable drop for Steel from third place in 2015 and marks a hit of $10million to her earnings.

At eighth is EL James, who released Grey, the retelling of her erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey, in June last year and takes home $14million (£10.5m).

Forbes claims the combined earnings of the 14 authors on the list is $269 million (£201.7m).

Just missing out on places on the list were The Martian author Andy Weir and Rachel Renée Russell, who writes children's series Dork Diaries.

Absent from this year's ranking were Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn and Hunger Games's Suzanne Collins, who came joint 13th last year, and mystery writer Janet Evanovich, who was sixth.

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