Cole becomes 15th member of £50m club

Martina Cole has become the first British female adult-audience novelist to surpass the £50m sales mark since records began.

Thanks to the solid sales of her 18th thriller, The Faithless (Headline), which hit shelves last month, the amount spent on physical editions of her books since records began in 1998 now stands at £50.3m according to BookScan.

Cole joins an elite group of just 15 other writers who are members of the £50m-plus club, of which only seven are writers of novels for adult audiences. Of those seven, just two, Terry Pratchett and J R R Tolkien, are British.

Cole's agent Darley Anderson said: "This is fabulous. Martina is very pleased and very thrilled, as is her agent. Martina Cole is a storytelling genius, and nobody else writes the kind of books she writes, she is her own genre, and part of the appeal is the authenticity of her books, and part of the appeal are the strong female characters that always finish triumphantly at the end of each book."

Headline m.d. Jane Morpeth said: "Martina is quite simply a phenomenon. In the 20 years since Headline acquired her first novel Dangerous Lady, Martina has broken all manner of records. This news about her record-breaking sales is an extraordinary testament to her unique voice as a storyteller and her special relationship with her readers."

Cole added: "That's wonderful news. I've always said I've got the nicest readers in the world and this proves it."

Helped by its TV adaptation, Cole's The Take has been her bestselling novel in the UK since records began, scoring sales of 601,300 copies. Her 2009-published Hard Girls sits second in the chart with sales of 548,400 copies and remains her bestselling hardback to date with sales of 253,650.

On average, £70,500 has been spent on Cole's books every week since records began. If you were to stack every single copy of her 7.3m books sold into a single pile, it would reach 183 miles into the air and, laid end-to-end, would stretch for 902 miles.

However, Cole has some way to go to match the sales of J K Rowling, who tops the overall chart with gargantuan UK print sales of £235m. Jamie Oliver sits second in the list with sales of £120m, while James Patterson is third on £93m.

Cole's top 10 bestsellers:

1) The Take 601,300 copies sold
2) Hard Girls 548,400
3) Close 511,800
4) The Graft 546,700
5) The Know 520,400
6) The Business 486,900
7) Faces 477,700
8) The Family 483,400
9) Faceless 473,900
10) Maura's Game 418,400

Total: 7.3m