James Patterson made $96 million in revenue last year according to Forbes – that makes him the highest-paid writer in the world by far (the second highest was Jeff Kinney with $19.5 million, and J.K. Rowling made $19 million).
Here’s a breakdown of how James Patterson leverages his brand and ghostwriters to consistently crank out top performing novels. Use this advice to improve your own agency or business processes.
Cracking The James Patterson Code: How does he make it?
At first, James was an advertising executive at J. Walter Thompson (JWT), a big advert until 1996; he’s responsible for the “Toys R Us” TV advertisement and slogan.
We are talking about a guy who really understands branding and advertising and leverages this knowledge in his novels.
His strategy consists in the creation of series, for instance, we have Daniel X, Alex Cross, Maximum Ride and Witch &Wizard, to name a few. Every title has several volumes and each one of them hit bestseller.
Shown below, a short but elemental analysis of the three key rules that boosted James to success.
James Patterson’s Rules
Rule #1 Attack a lot of Genres
Seeing the works of James, we will find thriller novels (i.e. Alex Cross), crime thrillers, fiction and fantasy (i.e. Witches & Wizards, which has a Harry Potter style), mistery (Women’s Murder Club) and much more.
Three wildly different genres for three wildly different audiences. He’s able to attack every single one simultaneously. But how can he make it? Is he a writer superhero or something?
Not exactly, and that’s what rule #2 is about.
Rule #2 Partner and co-author as much as possible
As you may know, his work gets a lot of critics for this. For example, Patterson had a publishing pattern of one book per year from 1993 – 1995, then it increased to three books per year from 1996.
However, from 2006, this number doubled, then tripled on 2009. In 2016, his book rate per year closed in 30 books. All of this was possible thanks to his co-writing team.
The Boston Globe wrote that Patterson is more of an author CEO since he goes out and hires a co-writing team which is composed of highly talented people who can deliver a consistent and top quality book, then he just puts his name on the cover.
This means that his name is nothing but a brand, a fact that takes us to the final rule.
Rule #3 Fully leverage your audience to buy everything you write
James Patterson isn’t the only author with this characteristics, we have J.K Rowling, Stephen King, John Grisham, and more. They all have got strong followers, which guarantee that everything they put on the shelves of the bookstores is going to be bought.
What Patterson does differently is ghostwriting, and while this method delivers high-quality stuff, people will continue to buy and perpetrate his brand.
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I’m Alex Berman, thanks again!
Articles mentioned in the video:
- “Girl on the Train” carries Paula Hawkins into list of world’s richest authors
- J. Patterson books in order
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