Forbes ranks E.L. James as world's top-earning author

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 28: Author E. L. James attends the E. L. James Book Signing For "50 Shades Of Grey" at Barnes & Noble bookstore at The Grove on September 28, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Frederick M. Brown

Writing all those steamy passages has paid off for E.L. James.

The 50-year-old "50 Shades of Grey" author has landed at the top of a very exclusive list.

On Monday, Forbes magazine named James 2013's highest-paid author in the world.

The finance publication points out just how difficult it can be for an author to land on their list, most of whom have been on it for decades.

Take Danielle Steel and Stephen King. Both authors were born in 1947 and released their first novels in 1973. Steel came in at No. 5 while King landed at No. 10.

James Patterson, who almost always makes it into the top spot each year, was knocked off his perch and came in at No. 2 due to the enormous success of James' erotic fantasy series. Forbes expects Patterson will be back at No. 1 next year. As the magazine points out, one out of every 17 hardcover novels sold in the U.S. is written by Patterson. His young adult series "Maximum Ride" and "Witch & Wizard" helped Patterson make $91 million between June, 2012 and June, 2013.

Suzanne Collins landed in the No. 3 spot, also largely thanks to a young adult series. The "Hunger Games"author earned $55 million, thanks in part to the film adaptations of her novels.

In the No. 4 spot was Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, whose books "Killing Lincoln" and "Killing Kennedy" have both became New York Times best-sellers.

There wasn't a single literary presence this year who was able to compete with Christian Grey. James, a former TV executive born and raised in the U.K., began writing the first "50 Shades" novel as erotic fan-fiction based off of the "Twilight" series." She self-published her first novel in the series as an e-book in 2011. A film adaptation is on its way and scheduled for a 2014 release.

Forbes' complete list of top-earning authors can be found here.

Tell us: Do you think James deserves to be at the top of the list?

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    Ken Lombardi is an entertainment reporter for CBS News. He has interviewed over 300 celebrities, including Clint Eastwood, Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks.