Certainly, the selected person will probably get some money, though I’ll bet the lion’s share goes to Patterson. The selected person will have a better shot at getting a contract for his or her own work, I suppose. What does being a co-author to Patterson really mean for one’s own writing? Well, it means that with a little help from Patterson, one can learn how to produce a Patterson clone. Thrillers! Mysteries! I like both. I like Patterson’s work, generally, as recreational reading. Patterson clones sell well, and Patterson’s name recognition will not hurt. “Author of Book with James Patterson” sounds pretty nice. Like a guarantee of a decent recreational read.
Losers will be left with a complete outline of a mystery/thriller/adventure that they can then finish themselves. That might not be considered a bad trade for your ninety bucks. If you like to write books in the style of James Patterson. Even if you don’t, you might learn something anyway.
This looks like a chance for Patterson to get people to pay to audition to be his ghost writer. He’ll guide, edit and make sure the final work is something he doesn’t mind endorsing. It looks like something he’s going to make a bundle from. Whether and how much the winner will benefit from working with Patterson depends on many factors that can’t be predicted, at least by me. It could be a Very Good Thing for someone who wants to write Patterson’s kind of books in Patterson’s way, and make no mistake, Patterson can write a good, gripping book. It’s possible it could lead to contracts and contacts, and truly give somebody a boost. Patterson says that’s the point, and I have no reason to disbelieve him.
The co-author methodology feels a little like work-for-hire contracts written under a brand name. Hello, Nancy Drew. Hi, Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden, Dana Twins. It’s not a new concept. It’s not even a bad one.
I have a book coming out next summer, third in a series, so entering this contest just wouldn’t work for me in terms of time or interest, yet I did think about it. If I went to the library and immersed myself in Patterson for a couple of weeks, I could probably come up with initial submissions that would work. Most people who can write can imitate style and plotting with at least some credibility. The worst that could happen is I’d have an outline for a book that would be, by this time, easy to write, and a better idea of how to write it.
What does this mean to you? If the idea sounds appealing, check it out. Go for it, work for it. It’s certainly cheaper than a MFA, and I suspect an entrant who follows through might learn quite a lot.
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