So you can read my books

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


{Image courtesy of Susan Solie-Patterson}
How exactly you ask.
You give the germ of the novel to an aspiring author and let him or her run with it.
How does that work you ask. 
 He produces a treatment of 60 to 80 pages, establishing the plot and characters in detail, 
then hires a writer to turn it into a full-length book.
 He sees their work every couple of weeks, sending it back with notes to speed it up, make it more real etc, 
and the co-writer ends up with a decent billing (although not an equal share of the cash). 
When asked if he’s a kind editor, he says no writer has ever quit.
Now, is that a clever obscure answer or what?  
Next, Mr. Patterson should run for President. :-)
I couldn't take pride in a book I did that way, but if Mr. Patterson were told that, he would frown, "Roland who?"
His success surpasses J K Rowling's.
 He is unapologetic about this collaborative process, saying it’s completely normal in most other art forms.
 "I’ll sometimes get on a TV show to be asked a question, 
and they’ll be reading off a teleprompter from something they didn’t write. 
In my case I’ve always been a good storyteller. I’m very good at plot and characterization but there are better stylists.”
 He is keen to dispel any impression he is putting his feet up while his writing drones do all the hard work. 
He gets up at the crack of dawn every day, 
and his office at his home in Palm Beach, Florida, is stacked with manuscripts of novels in progress.

He’s an active philanthropist, paying for more than 200 scholarships in 20 universities 

designed to train teachers and other educators whom he hopes will end up working in deprived communities.

 He doesn’t have a charitable foundation

 – he just does it all himself – 

and says the universities can’t believe how fuss-free he makes it.

If James Patterson asked you 
to write a novel, 
based on a 60 page treatment, 
would you do it?


  1. Hi Roland - sounds a very enterprising man, who's realised what he can do well ... and does ... the writers must be up to scratch - otherwise Patterson would be up the spout.

    I wouldn't have the knowledge or ability to turn his ideas into a novel, though I'd love to try ...

    Also I expect I have read a Patterson novel - but can't comment on his books ...

    Fascinating, informative post ... cheers Hilary

    1. I like the TV series ZOO based on one of his novels. (Which was ghosted, too). It is an unusual approach, isn't it?

  2. At first glace, it seems shady. But isn't that how Lovecraft wrote? And what about many of the painters and artists centuries past? An eighty page outline is really detailed and probably a fourth or better of the book.
    Would I do it? If I liked the story he gave me to write, why not? I'd probably learn a lot from the experience.

    1. No, Lovecraft didn't write that way -- no one could be that eerie. After Robert E. Howard died, a few authors tried to "improve" some of his stories. Robert B. Parker finished Chandler's Poodle Springs.

      Some Renaissance painters did use this technique, you're right there.

      Like you, I'd be tempted to try, but could I assume his writing voice? That would be hard.

  3. I don't think I would. James Patterson is now a brand. All his novels are supposed to sound like the way he wrote his own books. I think I might be able to imitate his voice, but it would be very frustrating. I wonder how many of these authors, that he generously gives credit to (because most authors don't give credit to their ghost writers), are actually selling their own works in their own voices.

    1. I don't know if I could imitate his voice well enough. And, like you, I wonder if the books of those authors solo sell any better afterwards. Who looks at the name of a ghost, right?

  4. No. I'm not a good imitator, and far too possessive of what I write. But good on him for giving aspiring writers a means to make some money, and for doing good work on his own time.

    1. I think it would take a pose forger on par with a good art forger to do it. But I am sure those who ghost for him learn many things (perhaps one or two even useful!) :-) And yes, he is doing great things with some of his money -- I applaud that.

  5. This is why I am a reluctant reader of top ten "brand writers". I get the feeling that what is good is labeled and pushed on me. Television is like that.

    So I only read a few of the big timers and stick with folks I run across in blogs, book fairs, tag sales, etc. I read a book or two a week.

    I've never read Patterson, but I don't like the premise of Zoo. I don't like animals being sullied by human traits.

    1. I took ZOO as animals being tainted by a chemical company or finally getting tired of being hunted by two-leggeds.

      Personally, I am re-reading classics I read 20 years ago which now seem almost new to me! :-)

  6. I don't think I could write like him, maybe like him in my own way... which would be a lot of ummm's and ahhh's.

    Sorry, not been around... good things taking shape in the life that once seemed dreary.


    1. I am so happy that your life is taking an up-swing after so many dark months! :-)

  7. It works, obviously, for him. And perhaps less well for his ghosts.
    My naive self would prefer that books were not just another business though.

    1. I would prefer he'd do all his books, too. It is too much like an assembly-line mentality to me!

  8. Wasn't it David Eddings who felt he discovered the secret plot to always have a financially successful book? Only difference was he wrote his own books.

    1. Lester Dent (Doc Savage) devised a selling format for his books, and Michael Moorcock (Elric) developed a way to write a selling book in THREE DAYS. Sadly, many of the read like they'd been in 3 days, too. :-(