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Category: Romance

James Patterson: the $84-million author

James Patterson
James Patterson made $84 million in the last year, making him the world's best-paid author, according to a list released by Forbes magazine Wednesday.

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.


2008: Biggest-earning authors

Kathryn Stockett and Janet Evanovich become Kindle million-sellers

Pottermore: It's an interactive reading experience

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: James Patterson. Credit: Reuters

Bristol Palin! Advice for the new author! (Fewer exclamation points!)


Some children lead extraordinary lives because of their great intellectual gifts or performance in the face of adversity. Helen Keller and Anne Frank come to mind. Other children linger in our collective consciousness because of their ability to leverage charisma. Shirley Temple, for example, or Michael Jackson (circa 1971).

But most of us spend our childhood in ordinary fashion, in the grip of our parents, attempting to obey, circumnavigate or flaunt their rules. Our adolescent accomplishments and failures are commonplace -- of interest, in most instances, only to our families and close friends.

And that’s a good thing. Childhood, after all, remains the time we attempt to forge identity. We flop around a lot and do silly and sometimes inappropriate things. If we are lucky, that behavior remains unnoticed by most of the world and forgiven by those closest to us.

Bristol Palin was a child whose behavior was noticed by much of the world. Her story is undoubtedly familiar to most: In 2008, at the age of 17, with her mother the GOP nominee for vice president, she was paraded in front of the nation, pregnant and unmarried but engaged to Levi Johnston, the baby’s father. Her son Tripp was born later that year. Bristol and Johnston broke up in 2009 and got back together, briefly, in 2010. Last fall, Bristol became a contestant on  “Dancing With the Stars” (and placed third with her partner, not bad for a girl who played basketball and football -- that’s right, football -- and ran track in her younger days). In December, she bought a home in Arizona.

Now Bristol has written a book “Not Afraid of Life: My Journey So Far,” with Nancy French. It’s not a particularly well-written book (too many exclamation points, among other sins) and the anecdotes within speak to a pretty ordinary childhood -- until the national spotlight/pregnancy thing.

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Mom's bathroom reading, in the Owchar house

Bylovefulfilled Back at the end of the shelf containing all the books I’ve read in my life, there’s a worn-out paperback with yellow pages called “By Love Fulfilled” by Noreen Nash. How is it that I read a book by one of the 1970s queens of romantic historical novels? A simple three letters.


My mom’s a devoted student of English and French history -- in some other world, with more educational support, I'm sure she would have become a successful professor of European history. Her enthusiasm for books kindled my own and has been a connection we’ve always shared, aside from our blood, aside from my being a part of her.

As a kid, I can remember reading what she left in the bathroom wastebasket. It wasn’t a wastebasket used for trash: She kept books there for, well, you know, those times when you need a book.

And that’s where “By Love Fulfilled” came in. I still remember my, er, regular visits to read about Nostradamus’ dire prediction that a French king would meet tragedy in a joust and how his dread prophecy comes true; and the terrible punishment a jealous husband takes on his adulterous wife -- he cuts off her nose -- and the way, nursed to health in a convent, the wound heals and her appearance is somewhat restored, though she’s not a ravishing beauty anymore. One night at the dinner table, I asked my mom about the nose-cutting scene and she gave me a startled look.

“You’ve been reading my book?” she said.

She didn’t scold me, though -- I think she forgot that the book included some racy scenes, but that’s OK, I was a kid and skipped those parts anyway. Instead, she started talking about royal houses and ancient lineages and wouldn’t stop. Little by little, as I finished the book, each night our dinner conversation was full of talk about kings and queens, and to this day I still bring up the book to her sometimes -- it’s a special little reminder of the unexpected ties that bind people.

So, this weekend, after our usual family gathering for Mother’s Day, I think I will serve her an after-dinner cup of coffee, sit down beside her and then ask a simple question, “So, Mom, how did Nostradamus know that the joust would go so badly?”

I want to see what she says. I can’t wait. No one else in the house will understand what I’m talking about, of course, but she will. She’s my mom.

-- Nick Owchar

Romancing the tome: Saturday's book fair for the bodice-ripper

Most of the attendees at the annual RT Booklovers Convention, which runs through Sunday at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, have been in the thick of the romantic fiction frenzy since Wednesday, attending an ambitious slate of author panels and theme parties (Wednesday was Bollywood Nights, Thursday was the Venetian Masquerade Faery Ball, and Friday is the Vampire Ball -- which happens to have the Zombie Dancers from Planet 9 on the bill).

But if your interest in the romantic fiction genre is a little less hard core -- or this is the first you've heard about the convention -- day passes are still available (of the two major annual conventions in the U.S. each year, this one is the more reader-oriented).

The biggest open-to-the-public event, taking place on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., is a romantic fiction book fair ($5 at the door), during which some 300 authors will be autographing books, posters and bookmarks.

Since Saturday is also "Teen Day" at the convention, with various events focusing on the young adult market, any teen who purchases a $25 day pass not only gets admission to the book fair (an accompanying adult will get in free) but can attend the teen workshops and a teen mixer from 6:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. as well.

Additional details, a complete list of authors and a convention schedule can be found online at rtconvention.com.

RT Booklovers Convention Book Fair is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, 404 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles.

-- Adam Tschorn

Photos: Romantic fiction authors Genella DeGrey, left, and Amanda McIntyre, center right, at the "Saucy Sirens Through History" meet-and-greet at the RT Booklovers Convention at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday. The convention, which runs through Sunday, includes an open-to-the-public book fair on Saturday. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times.




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