Books: James Patterson: The Man Who Can't Miss

James Patterson writes four best sellers a year. How does he do it? With a lot of help from friends

Literature is not a democracy. In the book world, being popular does not necessarily make you great. But if it were, and if it did, then the man sitting across the table from me in a canary-yellow mansion in Palm Beach, Fla., would be president-for-life of the literary universe, and Philip Roth would be a comptroller in North Dakota.

The man in the mansion is James Patterson. He is the author of 34 books, the last 18 of which have gone to No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list. All told he's sold about 100 million copies; last year they...

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