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Rich get richer dept: James Patterson signs 17-book deal

September 9, 2009
James Patterson striking a literary pose

James Patterson striking a literary pose

James Patterson, author of the Alex Cross thrillers and two other crime series, as well as young adult books, has signed a mind-boggling deal with Hatchette Book Group for 17 new books between now and 2012, Publishers Weekly reports. I wonder who will write them?

Actually, that’s not the cheap shot it might appear. Patterson, one of the bestselling novelists of the day, has never been coy about relying on co-writers, among them Maxine Paetro, Andrew Gross, Liza Marklund and Peter DeJonge, saying working with other writers brings new ideas to his stories.

So don’t think of James Patterson, who lives in Palm Beach, as a lonely scribe pecking at a keyboard somewhere. Think of him ensconced in a tropical mansion, CEO of a corporation which produces best sellers instead of widgets.

In fact, Patterson is former chairman of the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency and coiner of the slogan “Toys R Us Kid.” He retired in 1990, turning his marketing smarts to fiction, first with Alex Cross, an African-American forensic psychologist and consultant formerly with the Washington, D.C. police department.

Patterson established his gimmick of naming the books after nursery rhymes with the first Cross novel, Along Came a Spider. The Cross series, written with the simplicity of a fourth-grade chapter book, is the bestselling detective series of the past decade. Indeed, Patterson’s success overall is stunning.

He holds The New York Times bestsellers list record with 45 bestselling titles (and counting), including 19 No. 1’s. In 2007, one of every 15 hardcover novels sold in the U.S. was written by Patterson– 16 million total. From June 2007 to June 2008 he reportedly earned $50 million. He’s sold 150 million books worldwide. He’s the first novelist to simultaneously hold the No. 1 spot on the Times‘ adult and children’s bestsellers lists.

There’s more, but you get the idea. No wonder Hatchett wants to nail him down. The deal, according to PW, includes 11 adult titles to be published in hardcover by Little, Brown, and reprinted in paperback by Grand Central, plus six YA and/or children’s books to be published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

That means more Alex Cross action in D.C., more Women’s Murder Club set in San Francisco, and more New York grit with Det. Michael Bennett. Patterson books for young readers will include Maximum Ride and Daniel X titles, plus further entries in the Witch & Wizard series that debuts in December. Also promised: new stand-alone thrillers, nonfiction books and “surprises.”

“I love writing stories,” Patterson said in a statement. “I have more to tell, and I’m thrilled that the wonderful Hachette Book Group will continue to be my partner in exciting readers with these stories that I love.”

No kidding. Money details of the deal were not disclosed, but I can’t help wonder if Hatchett will have any dollars left over for its other writers, or should we envision a time, say just before the Mayan Apocalypse, when every book published will have James Patterson’s name on it?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Kris M permalink
    September 9, 2009 12:11 pm

    Hey Chauncey:
    I am going to do something that would make my mom proud: If I can’t say anything nice, I will say nothing at all.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      September 10, 2009 10:39 am

      Kris — What uncharacteristic restraint! Congratulations. I always say: If you can’t say anything nice, then come sit by me.

  2. Candice Simmons permalink
    September 9, 2009 1:47 pm

    I’m not crazy about Patterson myself. But I sure see a lot of people reading books with his name on them, as you put it.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      September 10, 2009 10:41 am

      Yes, I have always believed it better to read bad books than no books at all. Of course, I do not know that all Patterson’s books are bad, only the one that I have read. But still, when one author is taking up so much of the literary oxygen, I can only see it as an ill for all.

  3. rachel permalink
    September 9, 2009 2:00 pm

    Oy vey. I think I’m with Kris on this one.

    Okay I lied. I can’t help myself. I think it is disturbing how many books he’s published, how much money he’s made, the spots he’s held on the bestsellers lists and all the people who gobble up his work.

    Also, I had no idea he was responsible for Toys R Us Kids. So he is also to blame for the jingle that surfaces in my brian without provocation?

    I don’t wanna grow up…

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      September 10, 2009 10:41 am

      Thanks, Rachel, now it’s in my head, too.

  4. Oline permalink
    September 9, 2009 6:57 pm

    The sad thing is at one time he actually had talent. He won an Edgar when he was 29 years old and then disappeared for years until Along Came a Spider, not a bad book but….Now…now I will say nothing else.

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