Saturday, February 20, 2010

NYT: "James Patterson, Inc."

The recent NYT Magazine article about prolific author James Patterson has a few key facts relevant to my current Women's Murder Club research project (see previous posts).  Johnathan Mahler interviewed Patterson and wrote the article.

According to the article:
    Guinness World Records 2008
  • In 2009 Patterson sold an estimated 14 million copies of his books.  The novels appeared in 38 different languages.
  • "Since 2006, one out of every 17 novels bought in the United States was written by James Patterson" (Mahler, 2010). 
  • "According to Nielsen BookScan, Grisham’s, King’s and Brown’s combined U.S. sales in recent years still don’t match Patterson’s" (Mahler, 2010).
  • The most recent edition of the Guinness World Records has Patterson listed as the author with the most NYT best sellers.
  • 35 of his books went to No. 1 on the NYT best sellers list.  Patterson has had a total of 51 books on the list.
These stats along with other similar statistics help justify my current WMC study. Patterson's work has reached a large number of people.

In addition to these author stats, the article also talks about the strong role that Patterson takes in writing, publishing and marketing of his work.  Michael Pietsch (editor and the publisher of Little, Brown):  “Jim is at the very least co-publisher of his own books” (Mahler, 2010).

Besides working very closely with the publishers, he works closely with his group of co-authors. "He is part executive producer, part head writer, setting out the vision for each book or series and then ensuring that his writers stay the course. This kind of collaboration is second nature to Patterson from his advertising days, and it’s certainly common in other creative industries, including television" (Mahler, 2010).

According to the NYT article, the writing process for Patterson and his co-authors follows this pattern.
  1. Patterson writes a detailed outline.
  2. Co-author writes the chapters
  3. Patterson reads, revises or sometimes rewrites
  4. Co-author writes next draft.
Michael Pietsch, Patterson's publisher, compares Patterson to past mystery writers like Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett in terms of plotting and pacing.

The NYT article also mentioned that a prof at Harvard Business School (John Deighton) wrote a case study about Patterson and the marketing of his books. I'd like to read that case study.  However, all I could find (online) was a listing for the case in the author's CV.

The article put most of the attention on Patterson's books and very little on his film and TV projects.  The article did mention that Patterson is currently working on a movie project with Avi Arad (producer Spider-Man, X-Men) based on "Maximum Ride," Patterson's young adult novel series.  The article also mentioned that Patterson and his partners had already "raised the financing for a new Alex Cross movie that Patterson is helping to write" (Mahler, 2010).

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