Credited with writing most bestsellers compared to any other author in the history of publishing, James Patterson is arguably the most successful author of all times and certainly one of the richest authors in the world today. In 2011, it was estimated that one-in-four of all hardcover suspense-thriller novels sold were written by James Patterson.
James Patterson was born in 1947 in New York. He studied English literature at Manhattan College, and then did his Master’s in English literature from Vanderbilt University.
Patterson was a Ph.D. candidate at Vanderbilt, but a job offer took him into advertising. He worked in advertising until his retirement in 1996.
It is really amazing that Patterson wrote most of his successful novels only after his retirement. Like most authors, Patterson too struggled to get his first book published.
His maiden book ‘The Thomas Berryman Number’ was rejected by a dozen publishers before being sold to ‘Little Brown’ for $8,500 by his agent, whom Patterson found in a newspaper article.
“On the bookshelves were all of these other Little, Brown books, ‘Catcher in the Rye,’ ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman,’ ‘The Executioner’s Song.’ I’m thinking, They’re going to publish me? This is so cool.” – James Patterson recalling his first visit to Little Brown.
After “The Thomas Berryman Number,” Patterson wrote a few more books, none of them enjoyed commercial success or were considered worthy of critical acclaim.
Success Finds James Patterson
It was after retiring from his job in advertising that Patterson started writing full-time and found commercial success.
Patterson has published 95 novels, 51 of these became New York Times bestsellers and 35 made it to the No#1 spot. No wonder James Patterson is described as ‘The busiest man in publishing’ and one of the most successful authors of all time.
He is the first author to achieve ten million e-book sales and holds the New York Time’s record for most bestselling hardcover fiction titles by a single author (a total of 76!), which is also a Guinness World Record.
Patterson had an amazing run at New York Times bestseller list with 19 consecutive novels of his becoming NY Times bestsellers.
James Patterson Critics
Despite his commercial success, James Patterson is not rated high enough by the critics. He is often described as an Airport writer and a savvy marketer who manoeuvres his way to the bestseller list by appealing to the baser instincts of the public.
In-fact in an interview for USA Weekend, Stephen King referred to James Patterson as terrible but a very successful writer. Patterson appears unconcerned by the criticism and continues to write for the masses – People who like stories more than sentences and those who love to be entertained.
If you want to write for yourself, get a diary. If you want to write for a few friends, get a blog. But if you want to write for a lot of people, think about them a little bit. What do they like? What are their needs? A lot of people in this country go through their days numb. They need to be entertained. They need to feel something. – James Patterson
Patterson has devoted generous amount of time and money for the cause of books and reading. He contributes regularly to his college Bucks Scholarship program and donates thousands of books to schools in United States and to US troops abroad.
He set up the James Patterson Page Turner Awards in 2005, and launched ReadKiddoRead, a website devoted to helping teachers; parents and librarians find books for their children.