Radicals & Visionaries

10 Writers Who Turned Books Into Empires

10 Writers Who Turned Books Into Empires
Image credit: Ben A. Pruchnie/Stringer | Getty Images
J.K. Rowling
Entrepreneur Staff
Executive Editor of Green Entrepreneur
4 min read

For these novelists it wasn’t enough to just write bestsellers -- their books and names became huge brands.

Here’s how they turned their craft into big-time businesses.

10 Writers Who Turned Books Into Empires

J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling
Image credit: Getty Images

Known for: Conceiving the wizardly world of Harry Potter, making her one of the world’s richest author

Net worth: $1 billion

Businesses: Rowling sold the film rights to the Potter series to Warner Bros, and the theme park rights to Universal Studios. She’s the founder of Pottermore, a website, digital publishing, e-commerce and entertainment company.

She said it: “It’s impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well have not lived at all.”

10 Writers Who Turned Books Into Empires

Jim Davis

Jim Davis
Image credit: Hulton Archive | Getty Images

Known for: Drawing and writing Garfield comics, TV shows and movies

Net worth: $800 million

Businesses: President of Paws, Inc., a comic book studio and production company that manages all licensing rights for the lasagna-loving feline.

He said it: “If you are patient...and wait long enough...Nothing will happen.

10 Writers Who Turned Books Into Empires

John Grisham

John Grisham
Image credit: Carolyn Cole | Getty Images

Know for: Making the stories of fictional lawyers insanely interesting and lucrative

Net worth: $200 million

Businesses: His legal thrillers have sold over 275 million copies worldwide and seven have been adapted into films.

He said it: “Don’t compromise yourself—you’re all you have.”

10 Writers Who Turned Books Into Empires

James Patterson

James Patterson
Image credit: Aaron Davidson | Getty Images

Known for: Churning out thrillers at a rapid clip. Patterson broke the Guinness World Record for most New York Times #1 bestsellers.

Net worth: $490 million

Businesses: JIMMY Patterson, a children’s book imprint at Little, Brown & Company. Patterson publishes over a dozen books a year with various co-authors.

He said it: “Failure isn’t falling down, it’s staying down.”

10 Writers Who Turned Books Into Empires

Stephen King

Stephen King
Image credit: KENZO TRIBOUILLARD | Getty Images

Known for: Scaring the bejesus out readers with his terrifying novels

Net worth: $400 million

Businesses: His bestsellers have been adapted into 39 movies, 21 TV series and numerous comics, plays and songs.

He said it:  “The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

10 Writers Who Turned Books Into Empires

Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts
Image credit: The Washington Post | Getty Images

Known for: Being America’s most prolific and popular romance writer

Net worth: $340 million

Businesses: She’s written 219 books and adapted nine of them to Lifetime movies. She and her family own an inn, bookstore, pizza parlor and restaurant in her tiny hometown of BoonsBoro, Md.

She said it:  “If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it. If you don't ask, the answer is always no. If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place.”

10 Writers Who Turned Books Into Empires

Danielle Steel

Danielle Steel
Image credit: Ida Mae Astute | Getty Images

Known For: Romance novels about the fabulously rich and hopelessly doomed

Net worth: $310 million

Businesses: She’s published 99 novels and 18 children’s books— 22 have been adapted to TV—and has a long-term deal with New Line Home Entertainment to develop, produce and distribute straight-to-DVD movies based on her stories.

She said it: “Sometimes, if you aren't sure about something, you just have to jump off the bridge and grow your wings on the way down.”

10 Writers Who Turned Books Into Empires

Stephenie Meyer

Stephenie Meyer
Image credit: Amanda Edwards | Getty Images

Known for: Penning modern-day vampire love stories for teens

Net worth: $123 million

Businesses: The Twilight books and movies were best sellers and blockbusters respectively. Founder of Fickle Fish Films, which produced the Twilight films and The Host.

She said it: “Sometimes ideas feel like they were already there, and that you're just discovering them.”

10 Writers Who Turned Books Into Empires

E.L. James

E.L. James
Image credit: John Lamparski | Getty Images

Known for: Making BDSM acceptable for housewives and business women

Net worth: $80 million

Businesses: The Fifty Shades book trilogy and movie has earned over $50 million. Her Fifty Shades of Grey merchandise ranges from a “Vibrating Love Ring” sold at Target to a Vermont Teddy Bear with handcuffs.

Quote: “Don’t listen to your inner ‘Oh-this-will-never-be-good-enough’ voice – ignore it and keep going,”

10 Writers Who Turned Books Into Empires

George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin
Image credit: Todd Oren | Getty Images

Known for: Reigning over the Game of Thrones empire

Net worth: $65 million

Businesses: Earns $10 million a year in royalties from his book series and $15 million from the HBO series.

He Said It: “Once you’ve accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you.”

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  • 10 Writers Who Turned Books Into Empires
  • 1. J.K. Rowling
  • 2. Jim Davis
  • 3. John Grisham
  • 4. James Patterson
  • 5. Stephen King
  • 6. Nora Roberts
  • 7. Danielle Steel
  • 8. Stephenie Meyer
  • 9. E.L. James
  • 10. George R.R. Martin
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