Chapter 17 of 22 from James Patterson

Getting Published

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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.

Topics include: Publishing The Thomas Berryman Number • Find the right agent • Send query letters • Don’t give up • Enjoy the victories

James Patterson

James Patterson Teaches Writing

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

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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 for the very first time. In this course, he guides you through every part of the book writing process.

22 lessons totaling 3+ hours of video from James covering everything from starting your outline to getting published.

Each video lesson is paired with notes, reading materials, and assignments to make sure you get the most out of your class.

Submit your rough drafts and assignments for feedback from other students taking the class (and possibly James himself!).

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James Patterson

James Patterson Teaches Writing