James Brendan Patterson (born March 22, 1947) is an American author and philanthropist. Among his works are the Alex Cross, Michael Bennett, Women's Murder Club, Maximum Ride, Daniel X, NYPD Red, Witch and Wizard, and Private series, as well as many stand-alone thrillers, non-fiction, and romance novels. His books have sold more than 300 million copies, and he was 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, with an income of $95 million. His total income over a decade is estimated at $700 million.
In November 2015, Patterson received the Libertarian 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 was a Ph.D. candidate at Vanderbilt but acquired a job in advertising. He was an advertising executive at J. Walter Thompson. After he retired from advertising in 1996, he devoted his time to writing. His greatest influence, he said later, was probably Evan S. Connell's 1959 debut novel Mrs. Bridge. He published his first novel in 1976 called The Thomas Berryman Number. The novels featuring his character Alex Cross, a forensic psychologist formerly of the Washington DC. Metropolitan Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation, who now works as a private psychologist and government consultant, are his most popular and the top-selling U.S. detective series in the past ten years.
Patterson has written more than 200 novels since 1976. He has had more than 114 New York Times bestselling novels, and holds The New York Times record for most #1 New York Times bestsellers by a single author, a total of 67, which is also a Guinness World Record. His novels account for one in 17, roughly 6%, of all hardcover novels sold in the United States; in recent years his novels have sold more copies than those of Stephen King, John Grisham, and Dan Brown combined.
His books have sold approximately 305 million copies worldwide. IN 2008, he replaced Jacqueline Wilson as the most borrowed author in Britain's libraries. He retained this position at least until 2013. In 2018, he worked with Stephen David Entertainment on the true crime television series James Patterson's Murder Is Forever.
Patterson works with a variety of co-authors, such as Candice Fox, Maxine Paetro, Andrew Gross, Mark Sullivan, Ashwin Sanghi, Michael Ledwidge, and Peter de Jonge. In May 2017, it was announced that Patterson would also co-author a crime fiction book with former U.S. President Bill Clinton. Patterson said the novel, The President Is Missing, would provide a level of detail that only a former U.S. president can offer. Patterson has often said that collaborating with others brings new and interesting ideas to his stories. Of his process, he has stated that he is simply more proficient at dreaming up plots than crafting sentence after sentence.