Wednesday, February 27, 2008

When does a writer stop being a writer?

Blechta here, a day late and a dollar short. Read on, please...

Vicki's discussion about James Patterson's manner of working (notice that I didn't use the term "writing") -- I'm talking about his use of other unnamed writers on his staff to write at least parts of his novels -- is because he has ceased to be an "author" and has instead become a "brand". These are two completely different things.

There are other writers like this. Robert Ludlum is still cranking out books and he's been dead for several years now. Good trick.

The funny thing is that Patterson keeps churning out the books and people keep snapping them up. The action in them is really gruesome. I read two several years ago (can't remember the names -- which says something) and they made me really uncomfortable. I don't get uncomfortable very easily, either. I'd be really curious to know the demographics of his readership. I don't think it's little old ladies from Davenport, Iowa.

I think the bottom line thing is this: is it really honest to put your name on a book you didn't write? Does Patterson give his writers the basic plot and let them go at it? Is he involved in the writing as it's ongoing? Does he do the final polish on the manuscripts?

At the end of the day, what's the point? Is making a gazillion dollars a year that important? This isn't sour grapes here. If someone offered me the same deal, I would not take it. I might kick myself later, but I have more pride in my writing than that. Patterson's books are the equivalent of fast food. That's not what I'm interested in producing. Most writers I know are the same way.

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