What’s Your Problem With James Patterson?

James Patterson

I’ve written about James Patterson in a number of posts because it doesn’t get any better than him when it comes to selling books. But I’ve also mentioned that his work is scrutinized well beyond the work of others, and I just don’t get it.

How often do you read blog posts about how much that particular person hates JK Rowling or Stephen King? Really doesn’t hardly happen. Or how about how that person will never read any books written by a particular author? That happens, but one wouldn’t expect to be talking about the bestselling author in the world. If you don’t like his books, then okay. No one is holding a gun to your head telling you to read them. But I’m thinking there’s more to it than that. Which really makes no sense to me.

Writers, readers, and other prominent authors seem to feel the need to criticize Patterson for everything he does. Again, this goes beyond the books.

Do you HATE that he sells millions of books every year and you don’t?

Do you HATE that his name is in several different genres?

Do you HATE that he earns nearly $100 million every year?

Do you HATE that you can’t break into traditional publishing and he runs the damn place?

Do you HATE that you’re so obviously a better writer than he is?

Do you HATE that he’s assisted in his writing by other writers?

Or do you just not find his work appealing?

Seriously, answer those questions. Because we both know that it won’t just be about the books. It never is when it comes to Patterson.

But let’s slow down a bit. James Patterson won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel back in 1976 for his novel The Thomas Berryman Number. Guys, you don’t win Edgar awards by accident. So to sit there and say that he’s the worst writer blah blah blah is just a matter of your opinion. Second, so many people seem to pay so much attention to how he uses other writers. Why? What do you care how he writes his books? You don’t even know how your favorite authors go about writing their books or their process or much of anything besides their release dates. But James Patterson working with several other authors suddenly makes him a terrible person, right? Even though there’s no doubt in my mind that every one of those authors has made A LOT of money by working with him. Oh, but writing isn’t about money, right?

Third, James Patterson releases books in multiple genres. Oh no, the world is going to end. He’s no good for writing books that can be read by just about anyone, but it’s okay if JK Rowling writes whatever she wants because she gave us Harry Potter. Yep. Shut up. There’s not even an argument with this one.

It boils down to the fact that James Patterson is undoubtedly the best at what he sets out to do, sell books. I’m not going to say he’s the best writer writing today, because I certainly don’t believe that to be true, but the criticism he receives is so often about something other than the books. It’s about James Patterson the person or his philosophy when it comes to writing or how much money he makes every year.

He collaborates with other authors. Get over it. He releases several books a year. Get over it. He has more money than you do. Get over it.

By the way, I only read one series he writes. His original. Alex Cross. A series HE writes.

10 thoughts on “What’s Your Problem With James Patterson?

  1. My problem with him lately is that he’s become a franchise. He “co-authors” books now instead of writing them himself. And frankly, they’re very inferior to his older books.

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  2. I like James Patterson. It doesn’t matter to me that he is successful. I think it is fine to collaborate with other writers. Why not? It brings other writers success as well. I doubt they are complaining about it. If someone can develop a system that is more efficient, and frees up some time, well good for them!

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  3. WHAT?? James Patterson is amazing! His Maximum Ride series is what inspired me to write in the first place!! He’s fantastical!!

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  4. I’ll be honest, I’ve never read his stuff, but when I see his books on the shelf I usually roll my eyes. But it has nothing to do with his amazing success or even his collaborative system, which in my opinion actually helps newbie authors.

    I dislike him because release after release all his books look and sound the same. I’ll read the synopses and cringe because it’s the same story over and over. Maybe that’s crime fiction, I don’t know, it’s not a genre I read. It’s impressive to churn out multiple books in a year, but less so when they’re really all the same…

    You asked for the opinion, and there it is.

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  5. My problem with James Patterson is the same issue I have with Dean Koontz’s later books and the problem that iemergedinlondonrain mentions above: his writing is just…not that good. I’ve only read Kiss The Girls, but I thought it was pretty terrible. His writing skill is just not on par with Stephen King or J. K. Rowling. You admit yourself that he’s not the best writer, and that’s the only beef I personally have with him: I think he writes for the lowest common denominator and it shows.

    That’s not to say he’s not a marketing genius (obviously he must be if what he sells passes for good fiction), but much like Kesha and her music and marketing genius, his fiction will never be remembered as the pinnacle of “good writing.”

    I don’t have any problem with him earning money, or collaborating with other writers (it’s not like Stephen King has never collaborated with anyone, after all), or that he writes in several different genres (does he really? I thought he mostly wrote crime?)—I mean, it’s not like I could write fiction any better. But as a discerning reader, James Patterson is just not an author I’m going to waste my time on.

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  6. I’ve never read his stuff, but that’s only because I’m not the biggest fan of the genre he primarily writes in. I honestly didn’t even know he was published in multiple genres. Or that he collaborates with other writers. Who cares? Sheesh. People need to get a life.

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  7. I stopped reading James Patterson a few years ago when IMHO his writing deteriorated so badly I couldn’t force myself to finish his books. I have no problem with him being so successful. I just think with all the books he comes out with, written by himself, or with other authors, his writing has suffered. He used to be one of my favorite authors. I loved the Alex Cross series.

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  8. James Patterson is to books what Henry Ford was too cars. He turns out a money-making assembly line. That’s not a judgement call on my part, but the fact he’s so open about the way he goes about writing the sheer volume of books he puts out in a year (and short of cloning himself, getting other authors to do the bulk of the writing for him is really the only way TO do that) is the very thing that I think causes people to have such a problem with him. I believe I’ve heard it referred to as a “book factory” or something to that effect on more than one occasion. It seems that the issue most people are having is not that he collaborates with others, in and of itself, but that they’re sort of invisible entities. We know they’re there, but not who they are, really. And, of course, ghost writing goes back to damn near the beginning of time, but since JP is so open about it, it gets a rise out of people.

    To be honest, having read an article/interview about the process I understand it, I’m gonna admit it doesn’t thrill me. I couldn’t imagine taking a project I’ve outlined and handing it over to someone else like ‘you deal with it now, I’ve got other stuff to do’, because it just feels a little indifferent, but who am I to judge? I’m not really a fan of his work. I’ve liked the Maximum Ride series as sort of mindless fun, but I still haven’t bothered to pick up the last book yet (the earlier books were better reading than the ones toward the end of the series, so I want to finish it, but also can’t really make myself get excited about it). My roommate’s a big fan of his, but I think of JP books as sort of what you would consider ‘beach reading’. They’re just casual fun, not a lot of substance. Sometimes that’s all you want out of a book, and when it is, they’re as good as any other light reading, but nothing really worth getting worked up over.

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  9. I think it’s because his books sell so well, and they aren’t very good. Okay, I’ll admit, I’ve only read one. I don’t even remember the title, but it was a little creepy, about a grown man (an angel?) falling in love with a little girl. At least Nicholas Sparks’ books aren’t creepy.

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  10. I haven’t read any of Patterson’s books. They’re not my sort of thing.But that’s not the point. Good luck to him, I say. He must be doing something right to appeal to so many people. There’s an awful lot of snobbery and yes, as you say, jealousy in the literary world. It’s the same with Dan Brown who wrote the Da Vinci Code and several other very popular authors of genre fiction. I’m sure it doesn’t bother them unduly – and nor should it. The snobs and the jealous really need to get over themselves and the rest of us should write and read what we please.

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