James Patterson on churning out bestsellers (video)

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James Patterson, Inc.: Alex Cross author on churning out bestsellers - Rock Center with Brian Williams: " The 65-year-old crime and thriller author has written 106 books, sold more than 260 million copies and boasts 76 bestsellers, a Guinness World Record. His characters and franchises have become household names- Alex Cross, Michael Bennett, The Women’s Murder Club, Private. “Somebody says you’re lucky if you find something you like to do and then it’s a miracle if somebody will pay you to do it,” Patterson told Harry Smith in an interview airing Thursday, Dec. 20 at 10pm/9 CT on NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams. A glimpse inside the inner sanctum of Patterson’s office reveals shelves stacked with paper. They are manuscripts in progress with everything from screenplays to a Christmas themed Alex Cross book to his latest passion, writing children’s books. Click here to read an excerpt of James Patterson's upcoming book, "Private Berlin." The author is one of the most prolific of our time and has done it in a way that’s garnered criticism from his literary rivals. Patterson often works with co-authors. By the end of this year, he will publish 13 books, most of them written with co-authors. Some critics say that Patterson is less of a writer and more of an assembly line. Patterson defended his work. “You’ve been in my office, it ain’t a factory. It is an artist studio. I’m deeply involved. I’m doing this thing seven days a week,” Patterson said. “Nobody looks at Mercedes and goes, ‘It’s an assembly line.’ They go, ‘It’s a Mercedes,’ you know? And I think the books are good reads.” Patterson said that he usually does an initial outline of a story and a co-author will take a stab at a first draft. Then, armed with a sharpened, yellow pencil, Patterson fine tunes the draft into what he hopes is a page turner. “People are looking for entertainment, that’s what I try to do. I don’t consider myself to be a super serious writer, but I think I do write entertaining books,” he said. “I think there are a limited number of things that really are consistently entertaining and I think my books are consistently entertaining so people read them a lot.” Of his millions of readers, 70 percent of them are women, he says. Traces of his hometown, Newburgh, N.Y., can be found in his work. Patterson returns there to visit and has named characters after childhood friends. In college, Patterson said he became a voracious reader and dreamed of writing, but never thought he could make a living from it. After being rejected 31 times, Patterson’s first novel, “The Thomas Berryman Number,” was published in 1976. The mystery received the prestigious Edgar Award, but sold only 10,000 copies. After the book’s commercial failure, he made a decision that changed the way he approached writing. “I made the decision I’d like to write books that sell better,” Patterson said. Patterson chose to write bestselling books and not the next great American novel, he said. “I don’t have those chops and I don’t want to write something that’s halfway there. I don’t want to write a well-received literary novel that sells 5,000 copies and that people that I don’t particularly want to talk to like it,” Patterson said. “I don’t want to write for those people. I could, but I don’t want to.”. . . Despite his success, Patterson has no plans to slow down. “I love stories, that’s it. I love storytelling. I’m addicted to it. I think it’s a harmless addiction and one that’s worked out very well for me,” he said. . . . "

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