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Fifty Shades author says she originally aimed to sell 5,000 copies

Fifty Shades author E. L. James says she originally aimed to sell 5,000 books when she wrote the erotic novel that sold more than 125 million copies – and doesn’t rule out revisiting the series

  • E. L. James, 58, recently released latest in the latest in the Fifty Shades franchise
  • Original erotic trilogy sold 150 million copies worldwide after first book in 2011
  • Latest book follows Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele from the original trilogy 
  •  Bestselling author says dream was simply to see her first novel ‘in a book shop’ 

Fifty Shades of Grey author E. L. James said that she originally aimed to sell just 5,000 copies of the bestselling erotic novel. 

Her latest novel in the Freed series was published this week and marks the latest in the hugely successful Fifty Shades franchise – with the original trilogy selling 150 million copies worldwide. 

The novel is the latest in the Freed series, which re-tells the story of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele from the male protagonist’s point of view, and fans were ‘hounding her’ to write the novel. 

Appearing on Lorraine today from her London home, the author said she never dreamed ‘in a billion years’ that her novel would be so popular, and that her success has ‘shattered’ any expectations she had. 

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Fifty Shades of Grey author E. L. James said that she originally aimed to sell just 5,000 copies of the bestselling erotic novel during an appearance on Lorraine 

Her latest novel in the Freed series was published on earlier this month and marks the latest in the hugely successful Fifty Shades franchise. She is pictured in 2018 

‘My only ambition for all of this was to sell 5,000 copies and maybe one day see the books in a book shop’, said James. ‘My dreams have completely shattered [expectations]. It was extraordinary and this journey has been such a wild ride and here I am with my final book.’ 

She later added: ‘I never thought in a million years it would have that kind of influence at all’.  

James says that she enjoyed getting into the psyche of Christian, and that writing novel offered a much-needed escape during lockdown. 

‘I think part of the joy for me of writing it is, he’s a complicated character completely, and trying to fit what he says with what he thinks from 50 Shades Freed was quite a challenge. But it seems to be going down well, so I’m really pleased with the reactions I’ve had so far.  

The story has been adapted into a film series starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan. The pair are pictured in the 2015 film

Speaking of her fans she said: ‘Basically they were hounding me to write the book. We had three books from her point of view and only two [from his]. 

‘So during my lockdown this is what I did, I escaped to Seattle with these two characters who were out there not socially distancing and wearing masks – well, wearing a different kind of mask but we won’t get into that!’  

The final chapter of the trilogy sees the two protagonists eventually marry, and the author admitted that while she was reluctant to explore the storyline – it made her ‘very emotional’.

‘I personally find weddings incredibly dull,’ she said. So in 50 Shades Freed, I wrote it in flashbacks and people said “I want the wedding”, so I wrote the wedding. 

‘I actually felt very emotional doing it, which really surprised me, and there’s a few little surprises in there for readers. It was fun and I’m glad I got to pick a menu and do all the things you do for a wedding.’

The final chapter of the trilogy sees the two protagonists eventually marry, and the author admitted that while she was reluctant to explore the storyline – it made her ‘very emotional’

While it may be her last novel in the series, James doesn’t think she’ll ‘ever say goodbye’ to the characters she’s created. 

‘I think we leave them in a very good place,’ she said. ‘They’ve had such an exhausting time. I’ve thrown the kitchen sink at this couple, so I’d like to leave them in this place for a long time, but never say never.’  

The story has been adapted into a film series starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, and mother-of-two James recalled a moment at the film’s 2015 premiere where her son made her ‘burst into tears’. 

‘They’re not particularly interested [in the series] which is appropriate. But have been incredibly supportive’, she said. 

‘At the after party of the film premiere in London my eldest son, we were in a swanky bar, and everyone was there following the film’s release and he grabbed me and said “Look at all these people, they’re all here because of you. I’m so proud of you”.’

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