Patterson is the author of the Alex Cross novels and dozens of other thrillers; he's so popular these days that he often has co-writers help produce his books. His most recent (unless another has been published since this blog post was begun) is June's "Now You See Her."
Forbes' list tallies author income from May 2010 to April 2011. Patterson's earnings are so high that they more than double the No. 2 author, romance queen Danielle Steel. Steel earned $35 million in the same period.
The rest of the top six authors earned between $20 million and $30 million. Horror-and-more novelist Stephen King comes in at No. 3 with $28 million, mystery writer Janet Evanovich is No. 4 with $22 million and tied close behind, with $21 million each, are "Twilight's" Stephenie Meyer and Rick Riordan, who writes (mostly) for younger readers.
Who's next? Dean Koontz with $19 million, John Grisham with $18 million, Jeff "Wimpy Kid" Kinney with $17 million, Nicholas Sparks with $16 million and Ken Follett with $14 million.
Suzanne Collins, author of the "Hunger Games" trilogy, is on the list with $10 million and can probably look forward to an appearance on the list next year, as the film adaptation of the second book has been greenlighted even before the first has made it to screens. The last of the top 10 is J.K. Rowling -- once the highest-earning author on the list, her movie dollars seemed to have trickled. That's OK. She hasn't yet let anyone buy a Harry Potter e-book -- which might just make for a new magical revenue stream.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: James Patterson. Credit: Reuters