That’s the amount of novels James Patterson is releasing this year. Now while authors like Danielle Steel, Mary Higgins Clark and Stephen King are known for their prolific output, writing fifteen novels in one year is next to impossible. But see, that’s the key to James Patterson’s success. The best-selling has been very candid on this method of “writing,” revealing to magazines and newspapers that he outlines his stories and hires a co-writer to do the grunt of the work. When they finish with a manuscript, Patterson gives them some notes and then returns it to them.
Now as someone who is trying to break into the publishing industry, this method of “writing,” seems so cheap. It’s clear that Patterson is not writing this many novels because he loves telling stories; he’s doing it for the money. There’s no other explanation. Why must he release a novel every month? Can’t he release a book every year or two? I’ve never read a James Patterson novel, but I doubt they are all quality stories. How can they be with one person creating the story and another writing it?
I know what you’re going to say. Films are written by multiple people. So why can’t novels? While I agree that film is a collaborative medium, novel writing, for the most part, has always been about one person telling a story. That’s what so intimate and special about it. To think that your favorite author is simply slapping his name onto another person’s work is quite heartbreaking.
Of course, Patterson isn’t the only author who employs the help of a co-writer. Janet Evanovich, author of the Stephanie Plum series, has hired co-writers to work on some of her more recent novels. While her yearly output barley matches Patterson’s, it’s still a worrisome trend.
Unfortunately, this is nothing new. In the 1930’s, ghostwriters were hired to pen novels for the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mystery series under the collectives pseudonyms of Carolyn Keene and Frank W.Dixon respectively. They never received the recognition they deserved. But unlike the situation with Patterson, Carolyn Keene wasn’t a real person taking the lion’s share of credit.
I hope that this trend is only isolated to certain authors and doesn’t become popular amongst other popular names. I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the matter. Is it fair that James Patterson barely does any writing but still considers himself a writer?