Today on the Menu: From JWT CEO to World’s Best Selling Author

By Matt Van Hoven 

Today on the Menu we spoke with Jonathan Mahler, who wrote the cover piece for this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine &#151 an article on James Patterson (right), who was recently named the world’s best selling author. Back in the 90s, Patterson was CEO of JWT North America before retiring in 1996 to pursue his writing career.

Patterson’s was last in the news after inking a 17-book deal with publisher Hachette (his works are published under a subsidiary, Little,Brown). In the last two years he’s written as many, and over the course of his career has made the New York Times best seller list 51 times, 35 of which were No. 1.

Mahler said Patterson’s marketing experience has played a huge role in his global success. Patterson doesn’t focus on one market, rather writes highly-accessible books that fit into various genres. It’s the style that remains consistent &#151 a point that both keeps his audiences engaged and raises eyebrows from critics who say his works are more guilty pleasure than literary genius.

Whatever the case, Patterson is a runaway success, beating U.S. sales of John Grisham, Stephen King and Dan Brown, combined. Listen to Mahler explain how Patterson did it, and why the author’s latest deal (worth an estimated $150 million) was worth every penny for Hachette.

More: Episodes of the Menu