James Patterson is one of the most prolific writers out there, hitting the bestseller list over and over again. His success shows through recent reports, including Forbes’ Celebrity 100 (he sits at #44) and Top Earning Authors, where he was only recently knocked off the #1 slot to #2 by E.L. James (50 Shades of Grey). In 2012, Patterson released 13 books. He is expected to release another 13 books by year-end.
But, Patterson does not come without criticism. Many critics complain that his later books are simply “cookie-cutters,” using the same basic formula to write book after book. And, Stephen King has even been quoted as calling Patterson a “terrible writer” who just so happens to also be “very, very successful.”
Truth be told, as an avid reader, I do not consider James Patterson to be one of the best writers out there. He admits to merely writing outlines and hiring his co-authors to do the rest of the writing for him. Yet, his books are addictive and fun to read. He does not write to woo the critics; he writes to woo the readers. And that he knows how to do!
I have read Patterson’s books for years. I have enjoyed getting lost in his tales. I would tell myself that one more chapter was okay; it was only a few pages. Before I knew it, the book was read cover to cover, sometimes in single sittings.
Then, I heard that Patterson was coming to my city for a reading. I had never been to an author event before, but knew that I had to be there for Patterson. I sat in one of the front rows, mesmerized by his every word and surprisingly, by his wit and ability to make the audience come alive.
From that day forward, my life was forever changed. I became excited at the prospect of further author readings and events. More than a decade later, I still keep my eye on the man that started it all. All this time, I have heard the criticisms. I have heard the praise. And, I believe that his actions still speak louder than his words, spoken or written. Besides writing books that anyone can and will read, he has supported the industry in bold and new ways. When I mention his co-authors above, he strategically chooses his partners, taking struggling authors under his wing. Last year, he donated thousands of books to U.S. Troops. Earlier this year, he took out an ad in the New York Times Book Review and Publisher’s Weekly to ask “Who will save our books?” Even more recently, he donated $1 million to independent bookstores. We also cannot forget to include his campaign to get more kids to read.
James Patterson may be controversial, but one thing we cannot ignore is his prolific passion for helping the book world. Let the critics criticize, but this is an author and a passionate man that I want on the side of our literary community.