George R.R. Martin is many things to many people. For fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones, he’s a brilliant visionary who birthed this vast and complexly layered fantasy world. For book readers of his seminal A Song of Ice & Fire series on which the show is based, he’s the guy who can’t finish a book to save his life. Regardless of which camp you fall in, one thing can be said about Martin with absolute certainty: he’s filthy stinking rich.
With a significant hand in the most popular book series and television series in the world, it’s clear he’s made a pretty penny in his day. But just how much is the Nerd God worth?
George R.R. Martin’s Net Worth as of 2017: $65 Million
How did this White Walker of an author amass such an impressive fortune before his book series is even finished? Let’s take a look.
As a callow 21-year-old in 1970, Martin began selling sci-fi short stories to magazines. His first sale was “The Hero,” sold to Galaxy magazine and published in 1971. While relatively small scale in the grand scheme of things, Martin’s first few short stories brought him immediate attention from the literary award. In 1973, his short story “With Morning Comes Mistfall” was nominated for both a Hugo Award and a Nebula Award.
In 1977, Martin would publish his very first novel, “Dying of the Light.” While the book didn’t bring him the fame and riches we associate with him today, it did start him down a path that would ultimately lead to international success. In the meantime, however, he continued to immerse himself further in the literary world. Unfortunately, this road was not without its troubles.
In 1984, Martin published the horror novel, The Armageddon Rad. The unexpected commercial flop of the book “essentially destroyed my career as a novelist at the time,” Martin said. However, when one door closes, another opens. Martin quickly recovered by turning his attention to television where he wrote for such shows as Twilight Zone, Beauty and the Beast, and more.
Martin would continue having a hand in several different projects for the next decade plus before striking gold. In 1996, the author returned to novel writing and published A Game of Thrones, the first book in his now iconic series.
1997 – 2010
Over the next 13 years, Martin would continue his work on his epic tale. Following A Game of Thrones would be A Clash of Kings (1998), A Storm of Swords (2000), A Feast for Crows (2005) and A Dance with Dragons (2011).
A Feast for Crows would go on to become The New York Times No. 1 best seller and also The Wall Street Journal No. 1 best seller. A Dance with Dragons quickly became an international best seller and again topped The New York Times list and many others. To date, the A Song of Ice & Fire series has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide, becoming one of the most popular book series of all time and turning Martin into an undisputed A-lister. It is estimated that Martin earns roughly $10 million per year in book royalties alone.
Yet this would not be the highest Martin would climb in his career and in the public eye.
2011 – Present
In 2011, HBO debuted its adaptation of Martin’s book series, Game of Thrones. The show would soon go on to become the network’s most popular series of all-time and the most-watched show in the world with an average of 23 million viewers across all platforms for its sixth season. Game of Thrones is so globally popular that it has become HBO’s flagship series with the network even planning multiple spinoff prequels once the main series wraps up after its eighth season.
Forbes estimates that Martin earns around $15 million per year from HBO. Given GoT‘s global popularity, Martin has also earned significant sums for celebrity appearances as he is now a household name.
Unfortunately, the rise of Game of Thrones has coincided with a fall in Martin’s writing production as fans have been waiting six years and counting for the series’ planned fifth book, The Winds of Winter, to be published. At this time, there is no indication when, if ever, the next novel may hit shelves.