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James Patterson Ousts Stephanie Meyer as Highest-Paid Author

Pair combined to earn $110 million in last year, topping Forbes list

James Patterson is the world's highest-paid author, earning $70 million in the last year, according to a list published by Forbes.

And it appears Patterson’s working hard to earn that paycheck. His current $100 million book deal requires him to write 17 books by the end of 2012, according to Forbes. (It’s well worth it for Hachette, Patterson’s publisher, which has pocketed more than $500 million over the last two years from his work.)

Patterson easily flew past “Twilight” author Stephanie Meyer for the top slot. Meyer earned $40 million in the 12 months ended in June — this despite not having a new book released in 2009. (Meyer earned $7 million from the “Twilight” film options — the third of which opened in June and has since grossed $654 million worldwide at the box office.)

Stephen King was number three at placed $34 million – including $8 million from backlist sales. King’s 51st novel, “Under the Dome,” was released in November, selling 600,000 copies, according to BookScan.

Romance novelist Danielle Steel, at four, earned $32 million — including a reported $1 million settlement from a former assistant convicted of embezzling $760,000 from her.

“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, the “world's first author-billionaire” according to Forbes, rounds at the top 10. But, as the magazine notes, Rowling's “financial juggernaut has slowed.”

Here’s the rest:

Top 10 Highest Paid Book Authors

1. James Patterson, $70 million
2. Stephanie Meyer, $40 million
3. Stephen King, $34 million
4. Danielle Steel, $32 million
5. Ken Follett, $20 million
6. Dean Loontz, $18 million
7. Janet Evanovich, $16 million
8. John Grisham, $15 million
9. Nicholas Sparks, $14 million
10. J.K. Rowling, $10 million

[SOURCE: Forbes]