NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 08: James Patterson attends the AOL Build Speaker Series - James Patterson, "MasterClass" at AOL Studios In New York on June 8, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

James Patterson’s Questionable Personal Imprint Looks Even Worse After Unfounded, Racist Comments

I'm not anti-white, I'm anti-James Patterson.

Coming off the heels of a large profile for the New Yorker that deemed him the “World’s Best Selling Author,” James Patterson decided to tell the U.K. press, The Sunday Times, that white men are experiencing “another form of racism” because he’s supposedly struggling to sell to publishers, as well as make deals for adaptations of his work.

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What’s that all about? Can you get a job? Yes. Is it harder? Yes. It’s even harder for older writers. You don’t meet many 52-year-old white males.

Maybe Patterson has recently made some very-high profile Not Politically Correct™ podcast and comedian friends and is experiencing social mimicry, because that’s exactly what he sounds like. Also, he defended an alleged pedophile’s memoir (Woody Allen) in this interview—so, again, on-brand. Before getting into his work specifically, publishing and other media are still overwhelmingly white. When I say publishing, I’m talking about the editorial staff, the agents, and the writers, both indie and picked up by major publishers. In fiction and non-fiction, regardless of genre or age group, publishing is dominated by white writers. Yearly, Annenberg studies back up anecdotal evidence by showing film and television are comparably overwhelmingly white, especially behind the scenes.

@whitbylibrary This isn’t even half of it #jamespatterson #series #conspiracytiktok #librarytiktok #librariansoftiktok #booktok #library #librarian #fypシ #books ♬ original sound – Summer

Some have jokingly referred to Patterson as an “advertising executive” at this point because, for years, it’s been an open secret that he uses ghostwriters. He publishes almost two books a month now, on top of speaking engagements and meetings for adaptations. Even when he does credit writers on the cover, his name is the biggest, with few exceptions, like Dolly Parton. While I’ve never seen his books recommended on TikTok, there’s a whole subgenre within a subgenre of librarians or major booksellers talking about the amount of Patterson books.

The Jimmy Imprint

Of the many conversations sparked from these overblown descriptors by an author, whose whole career is built on word choice, the one most interesting involves people retrospectively looking at the activity of his imprint. James “Reverse Racism” Patterson had his own imprint at Hachette called James Patterson Presents. In 2020, it restructured to only include books written or “written” by him. Now named Jimmy Patterson, many authors were moved to another Hachette imprint: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

This looks pretty bad in light of his recent comments:

https://twitter.com/maeedakhan/status/1536382720703705090?s=20&t=sARiuWUYp1JhPphDCD-k3g

I didn’t realize that Patterson did this with YA and children’s literature until a few weeks back, when I included Natasha Ngan’s Girls of Paper and Fire on a list of sapphic science-fiction and fantasy novels. It can’t even be called “cashing in” for diversity because the original James Patterson Presents had no clear messaging for what made if different from other imprints other than having him as a brand. This is, of course, unlike the legendary middle-grade writer and ally Rick Riordan. Rick Riordan Presents was intentionally made to uplift marginalized writers and share folktales from around the world.

While Patterson (or one of his writers) apologized on Twitter, the damage has already been done, as his legacy is firmly connected with white supremacist myths about reverse racism.

(via Twitter, featured image: Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

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Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.