10 Writers Who Turned Books Into Empires These men and women are blessed with the ability to write great novels and land really big checks.

By Jonathan Small

Ben A. Pruchnie/Stringer | Getty Images
J.K. Rowling

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.

Getty Images

J.K. Rowling

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."

Hulton Archive | Getty Images

Jim Davis

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.

Carolyn Cole | Getty Images

John Grisham

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."

Aaron Davidson | Getty Images

James Patterson

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."


Stephen King

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."

The Washington Post | Getty Images

Nora Roberts

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."

Ida Mae Astute | Getty Images

Danielle Steel

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."

Amanda Edwards | Getty Images

Stephenie Meyer

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."

John Lamparski | Getty Images

E.L. James

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,"

Todd Oren | Getty Images

George R.R. Martin

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."

Jonathan Small

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor in Chief of Green Entrepreneur

Jonathan Small is editor-in-chief of Green Entrepreneur, a vertical from Entrepreneur Media focused on the intersection of sustainability and business. He is also an award-winning journalist, producer, and podcast host of the upcoming True Crime series, Dirty Money, and Write About Now podcasts. Jonathan is the founder of Strike Fire Productions, a premium podcast production company. He had held editing positions at Glamour, Stuff, Fitness, and Twist Magazines. His stories have appeared in The New York Times, TV Guide, Cosmo, Details, and Good Housekeeping. Previously, Jonathan served as VP of Content for the GSN (the Game Show Network), where he produced original digital video series.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics

Business News

Amazon Is Hiring 250,000 Workers Ahead of the Holidays, With Some Making Up to $28 an Hour. Here Are the Roles It's Filling.

The call for new hires includes a mix of full-time, part-time and seasonal employees, reflecting the company's need for a substantial labor force during the busy holiday period.

Business News

Man Caught Stealing $9,000 Worth of Gas from Gas Station As Fuel Prices Skyrocket

The Orlando, Florida man was caught stealing from three different Wawa locations.

Business Process

This Illegal Practice is Strangling Hospitality Businesses — Here are 9 Things to Do About It

From fresh ingredients to financial integrity, here's how to ensure your business isn't short-changed.