Disclaimer: The following is an emotionally fueled rant from the perspective of the artistic side of writing. Check out the followup post, What We Can Learn from James Patterson, for some thoughts on his work as a businessman.
If you're a reader, you've probably heard of James Patterson. He's written almost a hundred bestselling novels, and his sales numbers are off the charts. He's skipped around through different genres and categories, but some of his credits include the Alex Cross series and Maximum Ride.
This post is about the three reasons why I hate him.
I do not appreciate his book covers.
Just look at this. LOOK AT THIS.
Is there any question that these books are all by *cue super large font* JAMES PATTERSON?
Didn't think so.
Look at that. The title is even smaller than his name on many of those covers--and this is a consistent trend for him. I know that cover design is done by multiple artists and that his name is very recognizable, so for sales purposes, this works. But I consider it to be very tacky, especially given the following two points::
He works for money, not the craft.
I'll expand on this in the next point, but first, I would like to point out his apparent disregard for the quality of his writing. His books, especially the ones in a series, tend to get worse and worse over time. Just look at how the Maximum Ride series, originally meant to be a simple trilogy, evolved into an overly preachy, low-quality epoch with over twenty books.
On top of that, Patterson carelessly works cross-genre and cross-category as he puts out many low-quality books every single year. They're enjoyable, a lot of them, and he's good at marketing, hence his sales, but it shows no respect for the art of writing. He isn't dedicating his time and energy to the craft of each book the way that authors ought to. He doesn't seem to have any particular focus or passion either.
Except, perhaps, for money. That seems to be what he loves, more than creating good books. He's said as much, about not caring if his works are "trash", which normally I'd respect because I'm not a fan of book snobbery, but when you're saying that about your own books? Authors ought to be devoted and dedicated to whatever they write, even if others see it as "trash," and they ought to be able to say what makes them love their category/genre/style. That's not the case with him.
No matter how many literacy-related causes Patterson stands for, it doesn't erase his disregard for the actual written word as an art. He seems to appreciate the industry in a practical way, with his initiatives for small bookstores, children's literacy, and reluctant readers, but his other actions, his words, and his output indicate that he doesn't really respect writing.
This point leads us into the central reason why I'm not a fan of this author.
He doesn't actually write his own novels.
Nope. James Patterson doesn't write his own books. He just puts his name across their covers in THREE HUNDRED BILLION POINT FONT. Instead of being an actual novelist, he's the entertainment producer of what people sometimes refer to as "James Patterson Inc," which is a whole team of ghostwriters who create novels based off of his "trash" ideas and then give him most of the credit.
Now, yes, they do sometimes get cover credit, and industry members know about his team (because he talks about it all the time.) But James Patterson is the biggest name on the front cover, dwarfing everything else, as seen in my first point. Seriously, go look again. Often, the "co-writer's" name doesn't show up at all. He's the one everyone knows, the face of the corporation, and anyone who hasn't looked him up has no clue about the others on his team. They think he's the real writer.
Yet he's done so little of the work that even the others being given credit as "co-writers" isn't accurate. From what I understand, he gives them the basic idea, maybe an outline, and then they actually do the writing, painstakingly developing the characters, hammering out the prose, writing a story the way the rest of us authors do.
Patterson isn't an author. He's not even close.
As I said, James Patterson openly talks about his team, and he appears unashamed of it. Consider this: in a USA Today interview, they read two excerpts from books with his name on them. He identified the titles incorrectly for both. He didn't even know the content of the books he 's taking credit for. A direct quote from the interview is as follows:
"'You wrote this stuff,' Lauer said.
'Yeah. So what?' Patterson replied."
So what? Well, see my second point again. Also, dude, you didn't write it. YOU ARE NOT THE WRITER. You are a... collector.
In basis, I hate James Patterson because he offends my artistic sensibilities as a writer. He's a fantastic businessman, obviously. I imagine there's a lot we can learn from him in that aspect. But his works are often badly written, he treats writing as a throwaway hobby, and he puts a minuscule amount of personal effort into his books compared to the credit and money he gets.
Patterson is not a writer or artist, and he seems to consider the actual art of writing unimportant, which offends everything that I work for and believe in.
YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED, JAMES PATTERSON.
For the comments: What are your thoughts on Patterson's writing choices? No personal attacks or name-calling, please, as this isn't meant to actually be about Patterson as a person, but rather about his artistic choices.
Also, those of you on my Facebook page already know this, but I have a new idea and am planning on participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this July! My profile name is the same there as for regular NaNo. Friend me if you'd like!
Thank you for reading!
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