Marketing The Patterson Way

James Patterson

Lesson time 7:32 min

Before publishing his first book, James was an executive at a top ad agency in New York. Find out what James learned from his time in advertising and how he used it to change the book marketing game.

James Patterson
Teaches Writing
James teaches you how to create characters, write dialogue, and keep readers turning the page.
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Bizarrely, there is a Harvard case study on me, and I think one of things that the professors found interesting is that they could write about me the way they write about Coca Cola as a brand. I don't particularly think of myself as a brand, but they at least found that angle to be interesting. It's been written that I've changed publishing somewhat. I think what I changed was just common sense things. Like a lot of businesses, once it gets into a groove, new people come in and they don't change with the times. They just kind of keep doing what they've been doing. And in a lot of cases I just question everything. It's not necessarily that I want to change anything. [CELLO SOLO] There was always this thing you should just publish the one book every year and you publish it the same month and that became a model. And it worked for a publisher, Putnam, for a number of years, and it just became this little machine. And here was Robin Cook, and every April or whatever the month was he would publish the next novel. I said I don't really understand why that should be, and I remember going into the publisher one point I said, I want to do three novels this year, and it was like oh, I don't know about that. I said, Well, let me tell you the books. I gave him the idea for Beach House, which was a thriller set out in the Hamptons. And then I gave them an idea for a couple a book called Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas, and when I went through that story the publisher actually cried when I was telling the story. And then afterward he said, OK, we want to do Beach House, but we don't want to do Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas because we don't think it's your brand. And I said, look not that I know everything about brands, but such as it is, here's what I think a brand is. A brand is a relationship between a product or in this case me and customers. It's just a relationship. I know that Crest toothpaste gets my teeth clear, or acceptably clean, or I think it does, and does a little something for my breath. So I have a relationship. I've been using it since I've been a kid, and I don't really want to think about toothpaste so much, and that's just fine. In the case of my books, I think the relationship that I have is I know that if James Patterson writes a book the pages are going to turn themselves. That's the relationship. That's the expectation. That's what I'm going to deliver. So that's my opinion about what a brand is, and the fact that I could write in different genres was kind of mind-blowing for a lot of publishers. Then the notion of oh, he's writing two books a year. Oh my god, he's writing four books a year. Oh my god, 10 books a year. If I stop writing 10 books a year at this point, a lot of people at the publishing house would have heart attacks. So we've gone from like, how can you do that? To please don't stop. [CELLO SOLO]...

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.

An excellent way to start, now I just need to make sure I follow the rest of the course and listen to the learning.

It seems that the info that James supplies for his journey will be helpful/encouraging to those on their journey to be a writer. My big take-away: consistently work on your art--those muscles can't be built without it. Thanks! :)

I learned a great deal. Dove into a completely new genre for me with the confidence and direction he gave me. It should be a must for every writer.

I've learned I need to rewrite my manuscript because there was no suspense, not enough conflict and no clearly defined villain. While I'm not looking to rewriting (for the millionth time), I will do so armed with the knowledge of the weaknesses of the story and do everything I can to eliminate them! Thank you Mr. Patterson and thank you MasterClass!


Dorothy N.

Loved your class James Patterson. So genuine in your presentation. Loved the pearls you so freely shared. Thank you!

Louis S.

This is a tagline for a Thriller/Mystery Novel called: 'Darkness Falls' This is set in a picture-perfect town where young women disappear and no one knows why. "It was a full moon and the ritual begun with chanting, the offering lied motionless on the alter, her milky white skin blended with her robes, as the high priest approached dagger in hand, there were footsteps in the distance, they became louder and louder - The doors burst open and there stood Detective Walker, he was white as a ghost not believing what was about to unfold..." PS - This has so many 'twists and turns' and you will not believe who is behind it all.

Bonnie A.

I was interested in what James Patterson said about pushing your publisher. Specifically that they need to communicate that enthusiasm for your book to book stores, reviewers and readers. What I have been told is that writers must to do all of their own promotional work and that the publishing houses do none of that. Can anyone tell me their experience?

Georges S.

My book should be published in two years. My publisher asked me to build my following and personal brand further in the meantime. One idea i have is to start a 1 minute weekly video on a related topic that i cover in my non-fiction book that i post on social media. Should i start this now - two years before the book is out? Or should I wait until i have the manuscript written and start publicity a year before the book is out? Am I putting the cart ahead of the horse?

James B.

This is a tagline for a novel I'm writing I have in mind: Is the world truly as you see it?

Shayne O.

A memoir which may be sold as a work of fiction to save feelings. Tagline 1: One woman’s journey of self-discovery and escapade that will plummet you into the unfathomable smoke & mirrors world of today's Middle East. Tagline 2: A cross-cultural love affair for the digital age of passion, heartbreak, honor and betrayal across continents and the great age divide. Tagline 3: A modern tale for the digital age, a romance where old world east and new world west meet and clash across cultures, continents and the great age divide. Tagline 4: A modern-day romance explores the developing relationship between an urbane Australian woman and her traditional Jordanian Bedouin lover. From the height of passion to the depth of despair.

Margot B.

Mine is a fictionalized women's memoir: 1. Seeking herself. Seeking God. Finding love. But that kind of gives away the final twist... 2. Jen's search for self and God is ultimately the quest for love. 3. Jen, a young American sets out in search of herself and God. What she finds, is beyond her wildest dreams. and one more for good measure... this is kind of fun... 4. Jen's quest to escape the American dream in India leads her to find more than she could have ever dreamed of. 5. Setting out to escape the American dream, Jen finds healing, meaning and more than she could have ever desired, in India. Would love your views. Thanks.

Autumn D.

Oh I got it! The Tag line for the series: "The urban cozy you're been waiting for." (Since James Patterson's brand is "the pages turn themselves," I was thinking of a brand tag line for my series. I really like it.

Autumn D.

Tag Line and book blurb: Mystery. Mistaken Identify. Burnt Cookies. When bakery clerk Lexi Fagan's lover, firefighter Jerry Stevens, turns up dead in a devastating hotel fire, Lexi has no time to mourn. Homicide detective Robert Reiger discovers Jerry’s death was no accident. Caught up in the investigation, Lexi uncovers a shocking secret that just might get her killed.

Michael W.

To save his failing marriage, Tyler gets a job at San Diego’s biggest charity. But he’s got a little secret they can never find out...and even more importantly, neither can his wife.