£12 million payday for 50 Shades author

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EL James

EL James, the author of the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy made an astonishing £12.6 million in just eight months after her trilogy became an international best-seller. The book sold 70 million copies, netting James profit of £8 million after tax and costs.

So how is she enjoying the trappings of success, and how does she compare to the other multi-millionaire authors?


The figures were revealed in a number of newspapers, after scrutinising her returns to Companies House. The £8 million profit came in the eight months to September last year.

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But James (whose real name is Erika Leonard) isn't sidetracked by the trappings of wealth. The Daily Mail revealed she had given £1.1 million of the money away to charity.

The Mirror reported that she and her husband took £3,900 salaries and dividends of £355,000 each in the period. It also said that she still lives in the same terraced house she bought 15 years ago - well before her trilogy brought her fame.

The Sunday Times reported that the only thing she has splurged on has been her new car - a Volkswagen.

However, there's still an opportunity for more money and yet more fame, as the books are set to be turned into a film. The deal is reportedly worth £3 million to James.

How does she compare?

So how does her wealth stack up against the other mega-wealthy authors?

It appears that she has an awfully long way to go if she wants to trouble those at the top of the pile. James Patterson took the top spot in Forbes' latest list of the world's highest-earning authors, making $94 million between the summer of 2011 and 2012. During that time he published an incredible 14 titles.

He was followed by Stephen King, who made $39 million thanks to his book about JFK, and John Grisham who made $26 million. Jeff Kinney, who writes the Wimpy Kid books, made $25 million, Bill O'Reilly $24 million, and both Nora Roberts and Danielle Steel made $23 million.

However, EL James has out-earned a number of other stellar names (at roughly $19 million). Forbes found that JK Rowling made $17 million, George RR Martin made $15 million for the books on which the TV series Game of Thrones is based, and Stephanie Meyer trails by some distance at $14 million.

Of course it's early days for EL James. For authors like JK Rowling, these are earnings from the books she finished six years ago (and started 15 years ago). Whether James will be raking in this sort of cash a decade or more down the line is another question.

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