James Pat­ter­son

LIT­ER­A­TURE AT SCALE: RECORD-SET­TING AU­THOR (87 NO. 1 BEST­SELLERS); FOR­MER CEO, J. WAL­TER THOMPSON

Forbes - - CON­TENTS -

Don’t take “no” when your gut tells you “yes.” Just be­fore Lit­tle, Brown pub­lished Along Came a Spi­der, the first of my Alex Cross books, I said I wanted to do a TV com­mer­cial. They said, “We don’t do TV commercials.” So I just went and did one for noth­ing—$1,500. And then I brought it to them, and they went, “Ooh, we like this.” I said, “Let’s run it.” That started things go­ing. The book and me went on the best­sellers list.

Once I got out of the ad­ver­tis­ing busi­ness, I had a lot more time. I re­mem­ber go­ing to my pub­lisher, say­ing, “I want to do more than one book a year.” I told them one was at a beach house, and it was a mys­tery. And the other one was Suzanne’s Diary for Ni­cholas. The fel­low who ran Time Warner said, “We want to do The Beach House, but we don’t want to do Suzanne’s Diary be­cause it’s not your brand.” And I went, “I don’t think of my­self as a brand. But if I did, I think the brand is when you pick up a James Pat­ter­son book, the pages are re­ally go­ing to fly for you.” It was a big mo­ment in my ca­reer be­cause it was the point at which I went from pub­lish­ing one book a year, to ul­ti­mately 20. And in mul­ti­ple gen­res.

I faced the same re­sis­tance when I started writ­ing chil­dren’s books. Peo­ple have a ten­dency to stay within their com­fort zone, and many thought I could only do adult thrillers. I knew I could write great kids’ books, though, and launched my own chil­dren’s im­print, JIMMY Pat­ter­son. Now I pub­lish nearly as many kids’ best­sellers as I do adult ti­tles.

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