James Patterson, the Devil, and Cheap Bastards

My fellow cheap bastard and blogger, Dysfunctional Literacy, posed a few questions in his most recent post with the clear intent of generating a dialogue among his readers in the comment section.  However, his tactic backfired because my thoughts were too much for a comment and warranted a post of my own.  Then again, he may have just succeeded beyond his expectations since he now has a link to his blog from mine.  Well played, sir.

Should you have bought your daughter the James Patterson book?  I understand your mixed feelings.  James Patterson does seem to lend his name quite freely to works in which he has questionable levels of involvement.  Perhaps “lend” and “free” have the wrong connotation in this situation.

My counterpoint would be that Mr Patterson has earned his level of success and name recognition.  I doubt a literary-minded witch gave him the proverbial “famous while alive vs when dead” dilemma.  Whatever your personal opinion on his writing, people have voted with their dollars.  I am envious that Mr Patterson has the ability to simply slap his name on something and have it sell like fried Snickers bars at a National Fat Acceptance convention.  However, despite my envy, I do not begrudge him the ability.  I would do exactly the same, given the chance.

Most of what I see written about James Patterson and his ubiquity does everything short of calling him a sell-out.  Perhaps these writers are afraid of alienating the Great and Powerful OZ.  Maybe they fear the backlash of an angry mob of James Patterson fans coming after them.  I would love to be a sell-out.  That would mean I have something lots of people want to buy.

And if by chance Mr Patterson should read this post, let me say, “You are a magnificent talent, sir.  And extraordinarily handsome, as well.  I would gladly give you top billing on a book I wrote….Call me!”

Is Amazon the Devil?  Probably not.  Perhaps a minor demon, but not the big Beelzebub himself.  It depends on your perspective.  Traditional publishing methods are what caused me to give up writing entirely for a decade because I was not seeing a return on my efforts.  Then again, maybe I wasn’t published very often because I sucked.  If that is the case, I might still suck.  In my defense, I haven’t been told that lately.  I might simply be mediocre.

Much like Walmart, Amazon has never done anything, but made my life better.  Raise my quality of life by offering me less expensive stuff?  How dare they.  However, in the current dispute with Hachette Publishing (Which most writers have no stake in), I did find the letter they sent to KDP members quite the whiny punk move.

The thought of applying strict time management to your daughter’s book browsing is brilliant.  We do it for most everything else.  We limit the time they have to get ready for school, prepare for bed, and stand over them while they perform any number of activities while looking at our watches and hoping traffic doesn’t delay the rush to the next enrichment activity that enhances our child’s college application.  Parents have made over-scheduling their kids into dozens of activities an art form, so why not apply the same principle in the bookstore?

The funny thing about time and getting things done is that every project will expand to fill the time allotted.  I am consistently amazed at my own ability to churn out work of any sort when under a deadline.  And since I don’t think I’m particularly talented or special, I suspect everyone has that ability in them.

So tell your daughter to hurry up.



3 thoughts on “James Patterson, the Devil, and Cheap Bastards

  1. Well put. Very well put. I have to admit, all kidding aside, that the idea of limiting what a kid reads is very troubling. If you have a child who actually WANTS to read and then cut her off at the pass? That seems like the wrong method on every possible level. My mother let me read everything, even if she thought it was total crap. And eventually, I learned to make the call myself and if I didn’t know “great” literature from boring literature (aren’t they really the same, just a difference in perspective?), I learned to love books and reading and it has served me an entire lifetime.

    Go ye forth and make thyself rich by selling books.

    Amazon is my publisher as well as my favorite vendor. Devil indeed. I haven’t figured out how to respond to that letter you mentioned. Maybe we should open it for discussion. I’m down with Amazon … but then again, they pay my royalties.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My parents let my brother and I read whatever we wanted, as well. They used that exact logic. It worked out well for the most part except that while I was reading Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady, the Longarm series, and every gun magazine under the sun, I missed out on some titles I probably should have been reading to have a little more rounded literary background. On the upside, I learned more about life and being a man by reading so much Hemingway and Jack London than all of my contemporaries put together. I guess we have to pick and choose reading material since there is only so much time in the day.
      Like I said a couple of days ago in another post, the Amazon-Hachette fight is their deal, not mine. All things being equal, I am happier making $100 on 100 sales than making $100 on twenty sales. That’s five times as many people reading my stuff, and I can’t help but believe it is a good thing in the long run.
      I just think Amazon should put on their Big Boy pants and have the stones to fight this out on their own. Falling back on its customers and authors to exert pressure on Hachette tells me Amazon knows they have a fundamentally weak position. They have a great business model, but ultimately can’t force supplies into doing business with them. What scares Amazon white is the prospect of Atlas shrugging.
      I don’t know that I’d waste my time replying to Amazon or complying with their request. I’m to busy finishing the last 20% of L’homme Theroux.
      I have a couple of ideas for a cross-linked discussion. My personal e-mail is in the widgets. Contact me direct if you’d like to discuss.
      Either way, thanks for the thoughtful comment.


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