Ghost Writers No Mystery Any More

An avid reader of James Patterson’s novels for as long as I can remember, I find every one of his mysteries a page-turner.  Now that I’ve made a career out of professional ghost blogging, I’m interested in James Patterson for another reason as well.  Back in 2005, the New York Times carried a feature story highlighting the fact that Patterson has created an entire studio of co-authors and ghost authors.  Patterson offers a very matter-of-fact explanation for his “ghosts”: He’s more proficient, he says, at creating the story line than at executing it. “I found that it is rare that you get a craftsman and an idea person in the same body”, Mr. Patterson was quoted in the article, adding that he wants the final say before any book goes to press.

When, last year, Sarah Weinman wrote in the Los Angeles Times (April 15, 2007), “Commercial fiction has always had its share of ghostwriters toiling in the shadows”, she used James Patterson as a prime example, “Just look at the writers who have worked with James Patterson, brand name extraordinaire,” she gushes, adding “One need only check the copyright page for confirmation that he is the author of his novels,” (I was paying particular attention to this part), “no matter who may have written the actual words.”

Weinman sums up her own view of the Patterson system for mass-producing novels as follows: “His modus operandi may be mocked by the literati, but his ability to think like a packager brings in millions of dollars a year.”

In my earlier blog  Who Really Writes The Songs That Make The Young Girls Cry, I quoted writer Elaine Glusac: “Writing is generally acknowledged to be an individual sport.  But in Nashville’s culture, they work as a team.”  That is an exact parallel, I pointed out, to the way a business uses a ghost blogger to bring its message and tell its story to as many customers and clients as possible, using the power of the Internet.  Whether it’s country music song, novels, or blogs, marketing a business or practice involves spreading the word.  Since so many professionals and business owners lack the time or the inclination to compose blogs, that’s where a professional ghost blogger handles what Patterson calls the “execution phase”. No mystery, higher search engine rankings.


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