J.K. Rowling's story is truly one with a magical ending, despite its humble beginnings. Rowling first conceived the idea of the first Harry Potter novel while on a delayed train in 1990. However, it would be five years before she finished the book and two more before it would be published.
During that time, Rowling had to overcome a lot of adversity, as she was a single mother living on welfare, and even had to write that first book on an old manual typewriter. Those tough times aside, she persevered, and though the first book was rejected a dozen times by publishers, it was finally published in 1997. That book, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" (which was marketed in the U.S. as "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"), went on to top The New York Times best-seller's list and launched J.K. Rowling's writing career.
How much money did J.K. Rowling make from Harry Potter?
Joanne Rowling, writing under the pen name J.K. Rowling, has now written seven books in the Harry Potter series, which have sold more than 400 million copies. All seven books have been turned into feature films, with eight films having been produced under the watchful eye of Rowling. The franchise also led to the creation of over 400 licensed products, 11 video games, and two theme parks. All told, Rowling created a $15 billion brand. While her net worth is a fraction of that, as it is estimated to be just less than $1 billion, that's still enough to make her the world's richest author.
While Rowling's last Harry Potter book was released in 2007, she continues to earn royalties from book sales. Furthermore, she has written three books for adult readers, under the pen name Robert Galbraith, over the past few years, which have added to her earnings. In fact, in 2014 alone, she made $14 million. However, the bulk of those earnings, about $13 million, comes from her proprietary website Pottermore, where she exclusively distributes Harry Potter e-books. In fact, it was her decision not to sign over the rights of e-books to publishers that enables her to capture the vast majority of every e-book sale, boosting her earnings and net worth.
That said, over the past couple of years, Rowling's net worth has trended lower. Some of that downward pressure on her net worth has to do with the fact that she hasn't released a Harry Potter book since 2007, and it has been a few years since the final movie. While that has affected her Harry Potter-related earnings, she has also become very philanthropic in recent years, giving away more than a hundred million dollars of her wealth to charity.
Life lessons from J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling's story reminds us all that we must persevere through the tough times if we want to see a little magic in our lives. It took her seven years to write and publish the first Harry Potter book. She could have given up at any point during that time, whether it was while she was pecking away on an old typewriter or after any one of the dozen rejections. Instead, she chose to keep pressing on through her own personal hardship. As a result of that, she created the best-selling book series in history, which catapulted her from welfare to unimaginably wealthy.
Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.