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Many readers may have started consuming their books in different ways over the past few years, but that doesn’t mean they’re not still shelling out money for their favorites. In fact, the last year has treated the authors at the top of the food chain extremely well, most overtly newcomer E.L. James whose 50 Shades books netted her an astounding haul between June 2012 and June 2013.
According to Forbes, James raked in an incredible $95 million over the twelve-month stretch, good enough for first place on the magazine’s annual World’s Top Earning Author’s list. $5 million of that sum was reportedly for the film rights, but an overwhelming majority of it was from book sales. Between standard editions and e-books, the author reportedly moved some seventy million copies.
Beyond James, reliable standby James Patterson took home the second slot on the list with $91 million in profits. Hunger Games scribe Suzanne Collins finished third with $55 million. Talking head Bill O’Reilly netted $28 million thanks largely to Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln and Danielle Steel rounded out the top five with $26 million thanks to some newly released romances, as well as a back catalog that sells very well. Numbers six through ten on the list went to Jeff Kinney (Diary Of A Wimpy Kid), Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum series), Nora Roberts (various), Dan Brown (Inferno) and Stephen King (various).
James is currently working on a new book. Whenever it’s released, we’ll get a great sense of whether she’ll turn into a stand-by that makes this list year-after-year or will wind up being more of a flash in the pan that never recaptures the one magical year she had. Luckily for her, regardless of what happens, she’ll have more than enough money to satisfy her wants, needs and fetishes for the rest of her life, provided she uses even an ounce of common sense when it comes to spending this extravagant haul.
If nothing else, the previous year in publishing should be a great lesson to publishers that more unusual, under the radar content is sometimes worth the risk. No one including James would have ever guessed she’d sell seventy million copies of her erotica, but that’s the power of the free market. It’s always better to give the general public the chance to purchase something and let the chips fall where they may. If you wind up with a hit, more copies can certainly be printed.