"50 Shades" Writer No. 1 on Forbes' Top-Earning Authors List

E.L. James' sex-filled trilogy earned an estimated $95 million, beating out list regular James Patterson for the top spot

By Colin Bertram
|  Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013  |  Updated 11:46 AM CDT
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Denis Poroy/Invision/AP

Author E.L. James poses with her book "Fifty Shades of Grey" at a book signing during the first day of Comic-Con convention on July 12, 2012, in San Diego.

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The "sex sells" jokes almost write themselves now that E.L James has topped Forbes magazine's list of top-selling authors.

The "50 Shades of Grey" scribe earned an estimated $95 million in the past 12 months thanks to the sex-filled trilogy that chronicles the relationship between Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele.

James, a former television executive who lives in the U.K., sold more copies faster than any other author in history according to Forbes, with the "Shades" trilogy selling more than 70 million copies in the first eight months it was available for purchase in the U.S.

The kinky tale also earned James $5 million for the film rights which should see a big screen adaptation hit theaters in August 2014.

Originally written as fan fiction based on the "Twilight" franchise, the three tomes are the only thing written and published by James, who is currently at work on her next novel.

The author bumped prolific storyteller James Patterson from his perch atop the top-earning list. Patterson came in second with $91 million ahead of "Hunger Games" writer Suzanne Collins ($55 million), Bill O'Reilly ($28 million) and Danielle Steele ($26 million).

Much of the success of James' novels is attributed to the book's availability in e-book form, allowing the steamy tale to be downloaded and discretely read in public on Kindles, iPads and other electronic devices.

James declined a request for comment from Forbes citing writing obligations.

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