On this day…
22nd March, 1947 – James Patterson
It’s no surprise that today’s KYH of Writing is dedicated to James Patterson. Although his novels wouldn’t necessarily be the first I’d pick up at the library, you cannot fault this man’s dedication to reading, writing and all the amazing things associated.
Did you know like most authors, James Patterson started out with one book, released in 1976, that he struggled to get published?
It sold about 10,000 copies, a modest, if respectable, showing for a first novel. Last year, an estimated 14 million copies of his books in 38 different languages found their way onto beach blankets, airplanes and nightstands around the world. Patterson may lack the name recognition of a Stephen King, a John Grisham or a Dan Brown, but he outsells them all. Really, it’s not even close. (According to Nielsen BookScan, Grisham’s, King’s and Brown’s combined U.S. sales in recent years still don’t match Patterson’s.) This is partly because Patterson is so prolific: with the help of his stable of co-authors, he published nine original hardcover books in 2009.
One inspiring story for all wannabe authors is this remarkable tale (and it’s actually amazing how many of these types of stories there are about Patterson).
Michael Ledwidge, grew up in a large, working-class Irish family in the Bronx. He wanted to be a cop, but when he applied in 1993, the Police Academy was oversubscribed. So he worked as a doorman and started writing a heist novel on the side. When Ledwidge learned that he and James Patterson shared an alma mater, Manhattan College, he delivered his half-finished manuscript to Patterson one morning at J. Walter Thompson. That night, his phone rang.
“It must be James Patterson,” Ledwidge joked to his wife.
It was. Patterson helped Ledwidge get his first book published and his writing career started. A few books later, Ledwidge had garnered some critical acclaim but not much commercial success. In 2003, Patterson suggested that they collaborate on “Step on a Crack,” his first Michael Bennett novel. Ledwidge leapt at the opportunity. The book went straight to No. 1 on the Times best-seller list.
Another amazing example of this man’s generosity could be seen in a recent Telegraph Article –
Patterson, who last month said he was giving away nearly £1million of his personal fortune to support local bookshops in America, also writes young adult fiction and recently wrote a special short story set in London to encourage children to read as part of World Book Day.
Is there anything this man can’t do? According to this article, maybe not – James Patterson: how the bestseller factory works.