Three years after J.K. Rowling released her last Harry Potter novel, she has finally been dethroned from the top on the richest writers’ list. The new champion, somewhat controversially, is American James Patterson, who—with a posse of five co-authors—cranks out up to eight new novels a year in genres ranging from thrillers to teen romance. According to Forbes magazine, one in every 17 books sold in the U.S. Is written (or co-written) by Patterson. Last year he brought in $70 million, and a new $100-million contract with publisher Hachette calls for 17 more books to be ready to go by the end of 2012. Vampire queen Stephenie Meyer came second, while horror master Stephen King—who once called Patterson a “terrible writer” of “dopey thrillers”—was No. 3. The rest of the top 10: veteran romance novelist Danielle Steel; Ken Follet; King’s arch rival, Dean Koontz; Janet Evanovich; John Grisham; Nicholas Sparks; and Rowling, who doesn’t have to write new books to stay in the first rank—as children grow into readers, they get Harry Potter novels along with their Narnia books.
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