I will destroy James Patterson.
Let me clarify: I will destroy his empire. According to Wikipedia, Patterson has written 147 novels since 1976. My friend jokingly told me I need a lot of ghost writers to do it, but I’m fully prepared to surpass this man.
Now, why Patterson? This summer I worked as a page at my local library. It was fairly uneventful; I had to deal with the occasional old person stealing the New York Times, but nonetheless I learned some pretty important skills. One of them included what books do well and what books barely make it. Authors that were constantly being checked out included Patterson, Danielle Steele, Nora Roberts and, oddly enough, Agatha Christie. Out of all these writers, Patterson is the only one off the top of my head that I can pinpoint who wrote novels in more than one genre. The man’s successfully done mystery, young adult fiction, thriller, comedy and even romance, surprisingly. He’s done everything, which is my biggest issue.
It’s nothing personal. It’s just, as someone who wishes to enter the field one day as a novelist, I can’t help but get annoyed when so many writers are typecasted, but authors like Patterson can write whatever they want. Like I said, there’s not a lot of writers that have been successful in breaching other genres. It’s extremely frustrating to see, especially as someone who doesn’t want to stick to a specific category. It’d be really cool just to publish books in all sorts of categories, and to ultimately be good at it (that’s the hopeful goal).
Another thing that ultimately ties into this, and something that also annoys me greatly, is the fact that there isn’t really any diversity amongst any of the writers I listed. When it comes to literature, there isn’t a huge variety in not only writers but the literature itself. For example, according to Bustle.com, in 2018, there were more children’s books published that featured an animal main character than children’s books featuring a Black, Lantix, Native or Asian child. Another example is that LGBTQ+ books for kids and teens account for a very small portion of the overall industry. It comes down to the fact that publication companies still cater to the same population they’ve catered to for years.
As a woman, and as someone who wishes to write a bunch of books one day, I want to be able to focus on any genre I want and for as many books as I want. Not only that, but I want to see a bigger variety of authors. There are plenty of talented writers out there that haven’t gotten their big break yet and deserve to get their big break. Basically, I think it’s time for the world of publishing and writing to change. Publication companies have stuck to the same formula for years and it’s time to experiment.
So, watch out, Patterson.