Building an Empire from a Book: The Most Successful Writers in the World

J. K. Rowling

Every book genre has a writer who eclipses the rest in terms of overall success. But what is the measure of success for any given author? Critical acclaim and accolades? A popular television series? A website based on your lore? Movie franchise? How about a theme park featuring locations and characters from your books?

The following authors have accomplished some of these benchmarks, and little did they expect to amass a wealth of money and adoring fans.

Children’s books: J. K. Rowling

Estimated Book Sales: 500 million

Remember the previously-mentioned theme park? One exists to her credit – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The Harry Potter series is not only one of the most successful book series of modern times but also one of Warner Bros. highest-grossing franchises. The movie license has been so successful that it spawned yet another set of “Potterverse” films in the form of prequels, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. Her empire continues to grow despite not having to write a single page these days. A remarkable feat for a writer once told by a publisher to take a writing course.


Horror and Fantasy: Stephen King

Estimated Book Sales: 350 million

One of the most prolific writers of all time, Stephen King has written more than 50 novels in his lifetime. His horror novels include such classics like The Shining, It, Salem’s Lot, Carrie, and Cujo. Not only have they all made it to the big screen but they also have become a permanent fixture in the nightmares of many readers. This is a testament to the macabre mind of King, who has expressed feeling at home while reading a H. P. Lovecraft book.


Romance: Danielle Steel

Estimated Book Sales: 800 million

If you have ever waited in line while grocery shopping, chances are you have seen one of her books displayed on a book stand. The writer who redefined the romance genre, she has perfected the formula for the reading pleasure of romance-lovers everywhere. Her track record of releasing at least one romance novel per year started in 1977 and continues to this day. The frequency of book releases may be the reason she is the fourth best-selling fiction writer of all time.


Suspense-Thriller: Dean Koontz

Estimated Book Sales: 400 million

Despite being a popular name in the suspense-thriller genre, Dean Koontz’s adaptations have underperformed both critically and financially. But that hasn’t stopped Koontz from reaching the fame and literary acclaim that he has. His book sales alone have made him one of the richest authors alive, with a net worth of approximately $125 million.



Alex Correa | The Edge Blog

Photo credits: Daniel Ogren / pinguino k


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