James Brendan Patterson (born March 22, 1947) is an American author. He is largely known for his novels about fictional psychologist Alex Cross, the protagonist of the Alex Cross series. Patterson also wrote the Michael Bennett, Women’s Murder Club, Maximum Ride, Daniel X, NYPD Red, and Witch and Wizard series, as well as many stand-alone thrillers, non-fiction and romance novels. His books have sold more than 300 million copies and he holds the Guinness World Record for being the first person to sell 1 million e-books. In 2016, Patterson topped Forbes‘s list of highest-paid authors for the third consecutive year, earning $95 million. His total earnings over a decade are estimated at approximately $700 million.
In November 2015, Patterson received the Literarian Award from the National Book Foundation, which cited him as a “passionate campaigner to make books and reading a national priority. A generous supporter of universities, teachers colleges, independent bookstores, school libraries, and college students, Patterson has donated millions of dollars in grants and scholarships with the purpose of encouraging Americans of all ages to read more books.”
Patterson has been criticized for co-authoring many of his books, and for being more of a brand that focuses on making money than an artist who focuses on his craft.
In an interview for USA Weekend, Stephen King referred to Patterson as “a terrible writer but he’s very successful”. Patterson said of King in a Wall Street Journal interview, “He’s taken shots at me for years. It’s fine, but my approach is to do the opposite with him—to heap praise.”
Legal thriller writer Lisa Scottoline said in a review of Patterson’s Kill Alex Cross, “They used to say that 50 million Elvis Presley fans couldn’t be wrong, and James Patterson makes 50 million fans look like a good start. He has sold more than 230 million books, and his fans aren’t wrong, either.”
In 2013 Patterson drew varied reactions when he took out ads titled “Who Will Save Our Books? Our Bookstores? Our Libraries?” in Publishers Weekly and The New York Times Book Review, which employed the text, “If there are no bookstores, no libraries, no serious publishers with passionate, dedicated, idealistic editors, what will happen to our literature? Who will discover and mentor new writers? Who will publish our important books? What will happen if there are no more books like these?” Patterson called the ads an attempt to “stir the pot a little bit.” Digital Book World called the ads, “refreshing, really. And brave.” Maureen Sullivan, president of the American Library Association, told the Tampa Bay Times she was in the process of writing James Patterson a thank-you letter.
In 2016, at Oxbridge Academy of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Patterson said, “Never become a writer, you’ll never make it.” Teachers at this school became extremely angry, as they were worried this would discourage students who were writing novels at the time.
“James Patterson Explains Why His Books Sell Like Crazy”. Wall Street Journal. March 30, 2012. Retrieved May 24, 2013.