Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Discussion: Why I Can't Read James Patterson's Books


It's no secret that James Patterson doesn't write his own books, in fact he's probably the writer most known for it. And while that may not bother the millions of people who pick up his books, it bothers me... sooooo much. I get people coming into my work and telling me how big a James Patterson fan they are and I just look at them confused. How can you be a fan of his work if it's written by somebody else?

I must admit he's a smart man because whilst other authors are getting out one book a year if they are lucky, he's churning out bestseller after bestseller - children's fiction, young adult fiction, Alex Cross novels and romance books all in one year. It used to blow my mind before I learned about how he writes them.

Patterson is the ideas man, he comes up with an idea and writes out a basic 80 or so page draft. It will detail characters and key plot points and where the story should go. This is then given to a ghost writing who writes the novel and usually gets put on the book as a "James Patterson with blah-de-blah". So they are on there but their name is smaller and they get a smaller cut. He has never really discussed how much of his books are written by him and how much is the ghost writer. He doesn't discuss how much they get paid. He does write some of his books completely by himself, or at least I believe so. But most of the time he just gives notes and things.

The Beach HouseSundays at Tiffany'sThe Kiss (Witch & Wizard, #4)

It's my personal opinion that it should be stated on the novel that it isn't actually written by Patterson. The guy has 130 books that he has 'written' but at least 75 were written with ghost writers. It has just made me wonder who I should give the credit to if I read and enjoyed one of these books. Is it the guy who came up with the general storyline or the person who penned the novel. If you read and loved a book written by a ghost writer, are you a Patterson fan or a fan of the ghost writer?

Does it bother you if an author doesn't write all of their books themselves? Does it make you less of a fan of their work? Maybe I am being silly but this is something that bothers me and puts me off reading his work.

Darkest HourIt's also like V. C. Andrews, I read Flowers in the Attic when I was younger because I had seen and enjoyed the film. But when I went to find more of her books I realised that she is actually dead. All the books after 1990 were written solely by ghost writer Andrew Neiderman - but again the covers bare her name. It shouldn't annoy me, but it did and I never read any more other than that one series written by her.

How do you feel about fiction authors using ghost writers? Does it bother you?





29 comments:

  1. Huh. I didn't know that. I don't mind when authors collaborate on a book/series, but for them to actually write the book from someone else's idea is just sneaky.

    Once Upon A Dream Books

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    1. He was a successful business man when he started writing so he uses it like a production line. He just churns out book after book because it makes money. It works so he definitely is a smart man but I don't like it.

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  2. This post is so funny because I just finished a book where the main character was a ghost writer. Even now I can't wrap my head around a ghost writer. If they're so good at writing why not write their own novels? Maybe the don't have good ideas I don't know, but I do know that it bothers me a lot to read a book and like it only to find out the author bearing that name is not really the "author"
    Have you tried reading a JP novel written by him and then another one of his novels written by a ghost writer? Maybe then you could compare and see who the credit belongs to, in you mind.

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    1. I did try reading a JP book, not sure if it was written by him but I really disliked it. I also wonder why ghost writers aren't out writing their own books but like you said, maybe they just can't come up with any good ideas.

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  3. Definitely didn't know that about James Patterson before. When I've gone shopping in the bookstore recently I noticed the shelves (yes there were multiple shelves!) with his name on them. Something about that just made me not want to take a look at them. Given the info in the post above I think I will definitely stay away from them now!

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    1. We have so many books of his at work in the library and they are all over the place - junior fiction, teenage fiction, general fiction, adventure, sci-fi, romance.... IT'S CRAZY! Although it does make a lot more sense once you realise he's not writing them all himself.

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  4. I found out about this after reading the first four novels in his Maximum Ride series and got slightly turned off. Maybe it wouldn't bother me as much if the ghost writers' names came first and were the ones more prominent than his. I don't know if I'll read any more of his novels in the future, but if I do and enjoy them, I know that the credit isn't his. Thanks for sharing!

    Aimee @ Deadly Darlings

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    1. I know he has wrote some himself, the Maximum Ride series might be one of those as I saw no mention of a co-writer on any of those. But L. J. Smith doesn't write the Vampire Diaries any more and the ghost writer isn't given credit on the cover - so who knows!

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  5. I didn't know he ghost writes. I read one Alex Cross novel and was completely turned off from him. It felt like the same darn description over and over and over. It infuriated me. I spend my time to read you at least come up with a new way to describe something not use the same description over and over.
    No I don't think ghost writing is good and think my favorite author is now doing that...That breaks my heart. I have since stopped reading him also.
    I prefer a writer to write their own books with their own "hand".

    Mary

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    1. I think he might write most of the Alex Cross novels himself. People seem to love them but I've never been that interested - it's not my sort of series. I much prefer the books to be written by the author because authors have their own distinct way of writing and it's what makes you fall in love with their work.

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  6. I always figured the arrangement was something like that! I am curious how much the ghost writer gets, but I'd also imagine it benefits them, apart from money, because they'll technically be a #1 New York Times bestseller--or whatever--from then on. I've only read his Maximum Ride books, and not even all of those because they started getting really stupid, but I'm pretty sure he wrote those himself. At least there's no one else's name on any of the ones that I read. The idea of ghostwriting bothers me in his case, since we know he can write, and I can't really fathom another reason to do this except for money. When it comes to ghostwriting for "celebrities" and the like I'm not so bothered, since they're not writers by trade and a ghostwriter probably saves a publisher a lot of headaches. I do think they should get more recognition, though.

    Great post!!! :)
    Rachel @ Paper Cuts

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    1. I really want to know what sort of deal they get - a percentage or just a payment because he is definitely making a lot of money out of it. They definitely do get something out of it but they don't really get the credit because if someone reads & loves one of JP's books that has a ghost writer than they ask for more JP books and not those of the ghost writer.

      I believe he might write the Maximum Ride series himself - I haven't seen another name on the covers. But L.J. Smith no longer writes the Vampires Diaries series and the ghost writer does not get credit on the covers I've seen.

      I think when it comes to auto-biographies for famous people than a ghost writer makes complete sense to me.

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  7. I used to be such a big fan of James Patterson's books but when I found out about this it really annoyed me to hell. I don't understand why they would do that. It's literally like almost taking credit for something you didn't even write. I just hate it and I would never read a James Patterson book again. I agree with you so much. Great post! :D

    -Kimi at Geeky Chiquitas

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    1. I am happy to find I am not the only person who was annoyed, I thought maybe I was being too harsh. It just really puts me off reading any of his books, even the ones he actually writes himself. He seems to write purely as a business not because it's something that he loves and I think that would show in his work.

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  8. Umm.. I didn't know that! I've never read a James Paterson book and I had no idea he had that many books! But this really sounds unfair since his name is written like 10 times larger than the name of the actual writer! And if payment is never discussed.. hmm... that can't be good! At least I appreciate his honesty... he could have kept, or at least try to keep all of this a secret!

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    1. 130 is a lot of books& he is spread all around the library I work at - young adult, junior fiction, adventure, general fiction, romance, sci-fi - it's crazy! I would really love to know what kind of deal they work out - do they get a payment or a percentage. Does getting their name on the cover take off something from their payment?

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  9. Oh gosh, I didn't even know that. Didn't he write the Maximum Ride series? I've been meaning to read one of those....(so technically I haven't read anything by him yet, but it's on my to-do list). I had NO IDEA he had ghost writers. I can see where you're coming from. It doesn't seem like it's fair somehow. I know I'd be devastated if I went to read a Maggie Steifvater book and found out it wasn't really her. (Plus, can't you sort of tell? Doesn't each author have a really subtle voice and way they do things?)

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    1. I have a feeling he might have wrote those himself, I see no mention of other authors on those books. But L. J. Smith doesn't write the Vampire Diaries and the ghost writer doesn't have credit on the covers of any of the books at work.

      Exactly! I feel like you fall in love with an authors work because of how they write. And it seems like he is in it for money and business purposes (which makes sense as he was a successful businessman before he started writing) rather than the fact that he loves writing and is passionate about it.

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  10. I didn't know that either and I have read a few of his books, it is a little bit off-putting though. Didn't something like this happen with the later Vampire Diaries books by L.J. Smith too, I might be making it up but I'm sure that some of those were written by someone else but had L.J. Smith on them......

    Thea @ Gizzimomo's Book Shelf

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    1. Yes! I was going to mention her but seeing as it was a packaged book, which means the publishers hunted down an author to write a specific series for them as they thought it would sell, I didn't know if it really counted. The idea wasn't hers to begin with and so in a sense she was a ghost writer too. I don't know =/ But yes, the new books are written by a ghost writer who doesn't get credit on any of the covers I have seen.

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  11. I know I completely agree. I read a couple series by VC Andrews until I found out she didnt write them as well. I wont read her books anymore. Ive never read a JP book. But I didnt know that JP didnt write them. So I wont be reading any of them.

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    1. I just feel like he's writing them for the money and not because of a passion for writing books and that is not okay with me.

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  12. I'm curious to try one of JP books that he wrote in the beginning that he wrote completely himself. The books that he is "co-writing" now don't interest me.

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    1. Yeah, I'm the same but I haven't heard great things about the ones he wrote himself. I don't think they are really my thing so I might steer clear of them all.

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  13. I think I noticed that(the two names) but I wasn't sure what the exact deal was. It is a bit strange. Why doesn't he just write his own books and write fewer of them? I guess it's like TV shows, where you have people that come up with the basic idea and then you have the writers who actually write the episodes, and then in t he credits it states that it's created by so-and-so. But that's not a book, so yeah, I think it's just strange. I read a few of his earlier books that were written by only him (I'm assuming because his was the only name on the book) and I enjoyed them. ~Pam

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    1. For him, writing and publishing is a business and it's like a production line. Why write one book a year when you can write ten if you hire ghostwriters? He has a point but I like to read authors who are writing because they are passionate about it and the story they are writing.

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  14. I didn't realize this until I read an article a few months ago, and it bothers me, too. I don't have anything against ghost writers; I just couldn't be one. How would it feel to be the one who should be given credit but aren't given any? Instead it goes to someone else? That would suck too much for me. I also wouldn't want to take the credit if I wasn't the one doing the work of writing. Years ago I read one of his books and won't be reading anymore. Ugh!

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    1. I also don't like that he treats writing books like a production line. He does it to make money and money alone, not because he has a passion for writing. I think you can tell when the author isn't writing a book because they are passionate about it.

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