J.K. Rowling Is Back to Being World’s Highest-Paid Author, Thanks to “Cursed Child”

Though many fans may have been disappointed by the story of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, we did of course buy the script book, and the play has now catapulted J.K. Rowling back to the top of Forbes’ Highest-Paid Authors list, with her year’s earnings coming in at $95 million.

The last time Jo did so well by Forbes’ estimate was 2008 – the year that covered initial sales of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – when she topped not only Forbes’ Highest-Paid Author list but also its Celebrity 100 list with a whopping $300 million.


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As the bestselling book of 2016, Cursed Child made up nearly half of Rowling’s earnings and also helped to increase sales of the rest of the Potter books. Also contributing to her total is income from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, from which Forbes says she receives “low double-digit millions,” and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which they estimate earned her over $10 million.

Forbes producer Hayley Cuccinello says she was surprised to see the huge increase in Rowling’s earnings (we’re not!) but continues, “Unless Rowling releases another bestselling book in time for next year’s list, her earnings will almost certainly dip dramatically, and she’ll likely relinquish first place.”

As we previously reported, Jo also landed in the third spot on this year’s Forbes list of highest-paid celebrities, outearned only by two musicians. She was of course the first person to become a billionaire by writing books, losing her billionaire status in 2012 because of her philanthropy.

The Forbes list is put together using a combination of book sales, television and film earnings, and input from industry experts. It covers earnings for the period from June 1, 2016, to May 31, 2017, calculated before taxes and management fees.

Forbes Highest-Paid Authors 2017
1. J.K. Rowling – $95m
2. James Patterson – $87m
3. Jeff Kinney – $21m
4. Dan Brown – $20m
5. Stephen King – $15m
6.= John Grisham – $14m
6.= Nora Roberts – $14m
8. Paula Hawkins – $13m
9. E.L. James – $11.5m
10.= Danielle Steel – $11m
10.= Rick Riordan – $11m

Catherine Lai

I have been a fan of Harry since 2000, a fan of MuggleNet since 2005, and a MuggleNet team member since 2013. I believe in the power of stories to bring people together, and nothing does that quite like Harry Potter. I live in Toronto, Canada.