Sunday, September 27, 2009


Many of my favorite authors are what you would call prolific.  But there is a special kind of prolific that makes my head spin.  To wit: I have never read James Patterson, but I'm also not sure he's an actual writer anymore.  He has a contract for 17 books in the next three years, and according to this eye-opening little article will have had 22 for 2007-2009.  Obviously there are co-authors and ghost writers involved.  His name is apparently mostly brand.

As a reader I find this such a turn-off.  To me, books are intensely personal.  They are not commodities, and the author's name on the jacket means infinitely more than the imprint's logo.  When I buy a book by an author that I like, I expect it to be written by that person.

Unfortunately, I'm in la-la land, for this phenomenon is as old as the hills.  So I'll put it this way: I believe that branded series of books can be good (e.g. Nancy Drew); I just want the question of authorship to be honest and transparent.  After all, Kate may not be my real name, but I can at least assure you there is only one of me.  Instead of half a dozen people all writing as James Patterson, why can't their books just be "Developed by James Patterson", "Edited by James Patterson" or "Executive Produced by James Patterson"?

Perhaps I'll feel differently as an author someday.

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