James Patterson: Publishing Phenomenon


Publishing data experts Nielsen have revealed that James Patterson has been the world’s top-selling author since January 2001. His biggest-selling title was 1st to Die. One out of every 17 hard-cover novels bought in the United States has his name on the cover.

James Patterson: Nine Writing Quotes

  1. I write first thing in the morning, about 360 days a year.
  2. I find that I’m working on three or more projects at any given time. For some reason, this is a very comfortable way for me to work.
  3. Stop trying to write sentences and start trying to write stories.
  4. I’ve always concentrated on the product. There are very few cases where people or enterprises or franchises have succeeded unless the product is really good for that audience. [Writers] always want to hear it’s the advertising. It isn’t—it’s the product.
  5. As I do with all of my books, I outlined The Beach House from the beginning to end.
  6. I’m always pretending that I’m sitting across from somebody. I’m telling them a story, and I don’t want them to get up until it’s finished. I’m very conscious of an audience. I’m very conscious that I’m an entertainer. Something like 73 percent of my readers are college graduates, so you can’t condescend to people. You’ve got to tell them a story that they will be willing to pay money to read.
  7. Knowledge is valuable, but imagination is invaluable.
  8. People that really know me consider me to be an incredible underachiever. Because I was supposed to, you know, really write nice, serious books. And… I don’t know, got derailed, and here I am.
  9. If it’s commercial fiction that you want to write, it’s story, story, story. You’ve got to get a story where if you tell it to somebody in a paragraph, they’ll go, “Tell me more.” And then when you start to write it, they continue to want to read more. And if you don’t, it won’t work.

Here are some interesting statistics from an article in The Telegraph.

The 10 best-selling authors with the biggest-selling book since 2001:
Top: James Patterson, JK Rowling, Nora Roberts, Dr. Seuss, John Grisham
Bottom: Stephenie Meyer, Dan Brown, Nicholas Sparks, Janet Evanovich and Jeff Kinney

Their 10 Biggest-Selling Books

  1. James Patterson (1st to Die)
  2. JK Rowling (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)
  3. Nora Roberts (Red Lily)
  4. Dr Seuss (Oh, the Places You’ll Go!)
  5. John Grisham (A Painted House)
  6. Stephenie Meyer (Twilight)
  7. Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code)
  8. Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook)
  9. Janet Evanovich (One for the Money)
  10. Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid)

List compiled by Nielsen (US) Book Data

James Patterson is also the sixth best-selling author in the UK since 2001. He has sold books to the value of £86,534,077 in the UK.

How does he do it?

Patterson has paid 23 authors to co-write with him. The author’s name is on the cover under Patterson’s name. Patterson is responsible for the vision and plot line of each novel and series. He gives a detailed outline to the co-author  who drafts the early chapters. Patterson then reads, revises and requests new drafts until he is satisfied. These authors become instant best-sellers and often attract book deals of their own.

James Patterson in numbers

Number of novels to date: 130
Number of pages published: 45,651
Years working entirely as an author: 18
James Patterson series: 10
Number of co-authors: 23
Total book sales: 350 million
New York Times hardback best-sellers: 76
Consecutive New York Times best-sellers: 19
Cost of home: $17.4 million
Full-time publisher employees dealing solely with Patterson’s work: 3 (plus assistants)
Maximum length of outlines for co-authors: 50 pages
Years spent publishing novels: 38

Source for photograph

by Amanda Patterson