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Arts & Entertainment

Getting Published

James Patterson

Lesson time 11:12 min

Author of 76 best-sellers and holder of the Guinness World Record for the first person to sell over 1 million eBooks, James knows a thing or two about getting published. In this lesson he shares what he's learned.

James Patterson
Teaches Writing
James teaches you how to create characters, write dialogue, and keep readers turning the page.


I've been through the pain of trying to get an agent, trying to get a publisher, trying to get a good editor, so I know what you're going through, and the best thing I can tell you is one word, which is "persistence." And just be prepared and don't take it personally. My first book turned down by 31 publishers. You're going to get a lot of rejection here, and a lot of it may have nothing to do with your book. [CELLO SOLO] The first novel that I wrote was The Thomas Berryman Number, and I sent it out to a few agents and publishers myself. I got back some rejections, form notices, half-page whatever. A couple of publishers, one publisher, William Morris actually, held it for quite awhile. And I'm like, oh my god, oh my god, William Morris is going to publish it. Then they rejected it. And at that point I just happened to read a little piece in The New York Times Book Review about an agent who was taking on young writers. So I sent it over to that agent and like two days later I get a phone call, and I'm like, I can't believe this agent's turned it down that quickly and the agent actually said, no, no. I want to handle you. And this may happen to you. The agent said, "This is a terrific book. We're going to sell it. You've done a great job. But there are some changes that should be made." And he said, "I have an editor who I work with sometimes who's really good at working with young writers, Jay Acton, and let me send it over to Jay and see if Jay wants to work with you." OK, so I go over and meet Jay Acton. A nice guy, a smart guy. He has some thoughts. I go back and rewrite for a month or so. We submit it back to Jay. Jay rejects it. I'm heartbroken. The agent says, "Don't worry. This book is in great shape now. We're going to sell it." They got like four offers within the week for The Thomas Berryman Number. Then I went in and this actually was so much fun. Little, Brown wanted it the most. In those days Little, Brown was still in Boston, and I went up on Beacon Hill and went to their offices. And I'm sitting in this room filled with all the books they've published in there's Catcher in the Rye, and there's Herman Wouk, Youngblood Hawke, and all this stuff. And the fire's burning in a fireplace. It's real old-time stuff. And it was the best. I mean I'll never forget being in that office and thinking, oh my god, they're going to publish my damn book. [CELLO SOLO] You need to reach out. You need to reach out to mentors. Just trying to get some contacts. Contacts are really important. Introductions are important. If you can get introduced to an editor or publishing executive or an agent somehow, or any kind of an introduction, it helps. A former professor, a writing teacher, writer friends with published books, media executives, lawyers in the space. Those are all useful in terms of you're j...

Set out to write a best-selling book

James Patterson, the author of 19 consecutive No. 1 New York Times bestsellers, reveals his tricks of the trade. In his first online writing class, he guides you from the start to the finish of your book.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Thank you, Mr. Patterson. This was an excellent experience and the first time I've enjoyed having homework.

Very informative on both technique and what steps need to be accomplished to be successful with a writing career.

The class help to build confidence and get moving with my work. James Patterson is a great writer and the way he talks about things is very inspiring. Thanks James!!

I have the passion to write. If I come away from this course with the tools to craft a story, I will consider this to be time and money well spent.


Michelle H.

I'm wondering the same as Faye's post. What are the thoughts in today's changing media with regards to indie publishing and indie authors?

Faye L.

I would be curious on James Patterson's thought on self publishing agencies such as "iUniverse" (to name one)...

Stephen A.

A fabulous chapter. I so often wonder whether I can make the deal. I have reason to think that I write well, but so what?


I am the founder of a writer's group with over 2k members and I wish I could give them all of JP's lessons as a gift. We've been meeting since 2014 here in Akron, Ohio and we self-published four (4) anthologies, one for each year we've been together. Now that I have taken this Master Class, I look forward to our next (5th) anthology. So much advice!


I love how real you are with your lesson. Writing is not a sugar-coated business, and I like that you did not sugar-coat this lesson. Priceless advice!

Scott L.

Good advice about finding an agent and crafting the perfect letter to the agent. The first line in the query letter is as important as the first line in your book. MY advice to authors is get 'Jeff Herman’s Guide To Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents'

Rapha R.

Hi everyone! I’d like your opinion on self-publish (ebook) while searching for agent / publisher. Should I do it? Do publishers dislike a book that has already been digitally release?


Tears! This class is SO good and this has to be my favorite lesson so far...James Patterson is freaking awesome.


Have a high school classmate, Green Bret Steve Yedniak "HARD TO FORGET." Has published his own books.

Dee D.

I have learned a great deal so far from Mr. Patterson. Just wanted to know if anyone here have any thoughts on self publishing whether it be on Amazon, Book Baby or with any other self publishing company. Have anyone here have done it and what's your success. Thanks.