James Patterson Isn’t the Only James Patterson

Wait, what did I just say? Hehe. I’ll explain.

What do you think of when you think of James Patterson? I think of several things. Alex Cross. Michael Bennett. Young adult. Ghostwriting. Ridiculous criticism.  MILLIONS. And also, “all the books.” If you know anything about James Patterson, then you should understand why I think of those things. Pretty straightforward. The difference between myself and others is that I have no issue with the way he does things. He’s figured out how to make book publishing an overly profitable business for A LOT of people. He now publishes his young adult series under his own imprint. But I’ve learned something during my 4+ months working in a bookstore. He’s not the only one, he just does it better than everyone else.

John Grisham. David Baldacci. J.K. Rowling. Rick Riordan.

What do all of these authors have in common besides being major bestsellers? They’ve all written/write young adult and adult fiction. And this is certainly not an exhaustive list. Now I bet you’re thinking, “But that isn’t why I criticize Patterson, I criticize him because he doesn’t write his own books.” Right. Except you only know that because he’s allows you to know it. What you don’t know is how many authors don’t. Right? You can’t sit there and say with any amount of certainty which authors do and don’t write their own books. You can guess and you can assume, but you can’t really know for sure because you’re not in the room when those books are being written. So the ghostwriting criticism is flat out dumb. And there can’t be too much criticism about publishing for teens and for adults because there are SO many other authors doing the same.

Patterson doesn’t need me to defend his work or methods, but I’ll continue to do so for as long as he keeps entertaining me with his Alex Cross novels. Because they’ll never be the greatest books written, but they’re more entertaining than so many other series I’ve read. That’s gotta count for something.

PS: His various young adult books can’t be kept in stock at my store. Too many people coming in for them. So while so many people criticize him he’ll just keep on writing books that entertain readers of all ages.

What do you think of authors writing in different genres and not doing so under a pen name? I have no issue with any author who’s able to do it well, because it can’t be as easy as they make it seem.

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15 thoughts on “James Patterson Isn’t the Only James Patterson

  1. Interesting post. Personally, I’m not particularly fond of James Patterson’s writing style, but to each his own. However, in response to your question, I think the idea of writers compartmentalizing their works, and using pen names for ones that diverge in audience, style, or content is unnecessary. I understand that it may confuse some readers, but writing is a creative exercise and how creative is it to limit yourself in any way? Just my $0.02.

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  2. I don’t have a problem with him cris-crossing different genres. I gave up on him thou several years ago because I feel his writing is just awful. It pains me to say this because I loved the Alex Cross books, but even those have lost that spark that made them special.

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  3. This brings to mind something I read a few months ago.

    I didn’t know it when I was younger but the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and a few others are all written by different authors and published under one name. I’ll have to look up the article I read to get my facts straight but from the very first Hardy Boys mystery back in the 50’s (?) there have been several different authors at any given time writing them.

    Alfonso’s response brings to mind Anne Rice with her Vampire series and then her Beauty series. Beauty was written under a pseudonym. I guess because it doesn’t deal with main stream anything. It’s been too ling since I read the one I did but I believe the main theme is BDSM centric.

    I would rather have an author publish everything under their own name, or at least the one we most know them as rather than them using different names for different genres. Their secret will eventually come out when someone accuses them of plagiarism because some things are eerily similar to what they know.

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  4. Anne Rice actually published under three different names. Guess she didn’t want her straight lit tainted by her porn or her hard porn tainted by her soft? LOL. I don’t have a problem with Patterson per se. My problem is that when he started cranking out a dozen books plus a year the quality began to suffer. The early Alex Cross book were amazing. Some of his one off stuff from the early years was also fab. I was a big fan. I bought everything he wrote. And then he turned it into a machine and now, it’s pap. I don’t buy anything of his. The plots, the writing, the style, all sub par now.

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    • Anne Rice is the vampire lady, right? I think? Well if you think that all of his books are poorly written, then the authors you’re really criticizing are the authors he works with. I think he only writes Alex Cross on his own. Everything else is a collaboration with someone. And it is my understanding that most of the writing is done by the authors. It’s fine if you don’t like it, but the writing isn’t really his. Maybe the idea and the plot outline, yes, but not so much the actual writing.

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  5. I think it’s brave to publish under your name in multiple genres. Because people tend to box authors into one genre, usually the one they’ve been most successful with. I think it’s a testament to the talent of authors, their ideas, the people they collaborate with, and their marketing prowess.
    As for James Patterson, I admire his ingenuity in working with other writers to get his books out. If he has that many ideas, and just needs someone to help him manage the sheer quantity of them, who am I to judge?

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