One best-selling author maps out plot and scene, then hires “collaborators” to do the actual writing. He reviews their work every 30 or 40 pages. Does this make him the book’s author?
It does when we’re talking about James Patterson. He spoke about his “writing process” in a Wall Street Journal interview titled “James Patterson Explains Why His Books Sell Like Crazy.” I don’t know about other readers, but when I buy a book by Neil Gaiman, Christopher Moore, George R.R. Martin, Suzanne Collins, or any other writer I believe that the person whose name is on the cover actually writes the scenes and dialogue that make up the story. I may be deluded.
At least in Patterson’s case, outsourcing chunks of the creative process is a wildly successful method for churning out detective novels as well as young adult books. He has 13 books coming out this year and earns 80 million annually. I know some of the great masters in art used assistants. I also know that collaboration is essential to many of today’s creative industries, from music to video game design. But after reading this laudatory interview I’m wondering if Patterson is an author or a brand name. What’s your take on this?