Learning from James Patterson

I have a copy of a Harvard Business School case study titled Marketing James Patterson. Published in 2006, the facts and figures are dated but Patterson’s quote concerning brand remains relevant.

Brands are nothing more than trust. I trust I’m going to pick this up and I’m not going to be able to put it down. There will be tension. And pace. And some kind of human identification not just with the heroes but also with the villains. Above all, my brand stands for story. I became successful when I stopped writing sentences and started writing stories. Editors think it’s about style. It’s not. It’s all story.

In May 2012, Patterson’s book 11th Hour was fourth on the New York Times combined print and e-book bestsellers list. I, Michael Bennett, Guilty Wives, Maximum Ride: Nevermore and Zoo are some of his latest releases. With a superb marketing machine and a well-honed formula for working with co-authors, he has at least six more novels coming up and more than 3.4 million Facebook fans.

I wonder what I could learn from studying his model?

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The historical fiction author behind A Writer of History...

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4 Responses

  1. This is great. One thing I take away from it is that before one can worry about marketing and brands, one needs to have a solid product (i.e. story) that people will actually want to buy.

    I’ve never read any of Patterson’s books. What’s a good one to start with?

    1. Hi Janna … I have to confess that the latest James Patterson I’ve read is probably more than ten years ago. But I would enjoy hearing what you think when you do read one of his novels! When I used to write about the business side of writing, I thought it would be interesting to look at how he operates. He’s a former, very successful advertising executive who changed careers a number of years ago. I imagine he earns tons of money – regardless of whether you like his style, it is interesting to look at what he does. I also think that the notion of ‘story’ correlates with the book called Hit Lit which I mentioned a week or so ago.

  2. It is true. Look at Twilight, Harry Potter, Fifty Shades of Grey, The Hunger Games…or any other Mega Best-seller released within the last ten years (and you know what? I’ll even throw in the good best-sellers released in the post-Kindle age): no one goes on and on about the writing–the attention is solely focused on the characters and the plot. I would say the love for Downton Abbey is the same: we may moan about Fellowes’ cliches or anachronisms, but continue to tune in each week because we love the characters and want to see how it all turns out for them. Reading–and loving Fifty Shades of Grey–in spite of the criticism over the writing really brought home how important story is for readers.

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