An Ex-President and an Author

It is going to be a combination of publishers, editors, and authors, but one that you probably won’t want to miss. This week, publishing houses Knopf and Little, Brown & Co., announced that they are going to work together to publish a book by former President Bill Clinton, and author James Patterson.

The novel, tentatively titled THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING, is slated to be released on June 11, 2018. Right now, the book is just in the early stages, so no one is saying whether it will be in Patterson’s trademark style, or a different type of thriller, but the idea revolves around a sitting President in the White House, and is bound to have lots of juicy insider ideas.

Little, Brown & Co., will take care of publishing and distribution of all of the books, while Knopf will cover the advertising and tour dates, with input from both sides. This should be interesting.

While it’s not the first novel to be published by a former President (Jimmy Carter was the first), it is the first novel collaboration. We’ll have to wait and see how it goes, but this is sure to be a very interesting and desired book. Maybe we should start a waiting list now.

Money

James Patterson has done it again. No, I don’t mean that he’s written another book, although the man just has to sneeze and out comes another best-seller. But this time, it’s all about what he’s giving back, and it’s amazing.

This year, Patterson has promised $1.75 million to school libraries in the United States. Specifically, he wants to give $500 to 3500 teachers. While many school libraries have seen cutbacks (and this isn’t just an issue in the US), teachers often bear the brunt of the problem, having to supplement their meager classroom libraries with current books that will provide reading material for their students. Patterson knows it’s just a drop in the bucket, but that $500 will go a long way, especially in schools where they don’t even have libraries anymore.

This isn’t the first time James Patterson has donated money to schools. He launched the program in 2015 along with the Scholastic Reading Club as a way to bolster reading in schools. So far, he’s donated $3.5 million, and has no plans to stop now.

It’s nice to hear about people giving back to their communities, especially when they have plenty. Good on you, James Patterson! Let’s hope he starts a trend!

Can James Patterson Teach?

In one of our writers’ meetings at the library recently, one of the members told us about something they’d seen pop up in their Facebook feed…a writing course taught by James Patterson. They had no other details, but it sounded intriguing. After all, James Patterson puts out about a million books a month (yes, I’m exaggerating, but only slightly), and we can assume he’s doing quite well by it, so a writing course might be something of value.

12275830396489850044So, when I came across this article by an author, Joyce Maynard, who took the course, I was interested to see what she thought. Ms. Maynard explains that she has written 15 novels over the course of her writing career, all of which have sold modestly, and while she earns her living through writing, she is not earning by James Patterson standards. She was curious as to what Mr. Patterson might teach her–clearly admitting that he must know something she doesn’t about the business of writing—and forked over the $90 for the 22 sessions in the James Patterson MasterClass.

The classes are well organized on a special website, and students can work at their own pace, accessing any of the lessons in any order they prefer. Maynard got right to it, deciding she’d spent enough of her life trying to write a best-seller, and worked through the lessons in about three hours, avoiding the exercises for the most part. Going in, she was slightly skeptical, but upon her “graduation”, she held a new respect for Mr. Patterson. While most of the topics were not new to her, she found that Jim, as she liked to refer to him now, talked most importantly about storytelling, and the art of creating stories that will grab the readers and not let go.

His most valuable piece of advice, according to Ms. Maynard? “Don’t set out to write a good thriller. Set out to write a No.1 thriller.”

Good advice. I think I’ll bring this course back up to the writing group later this month. It might benefit some of the more seasoned writers and give them something new to work toward. While Maynard claims Patterson’s course is not without cliche, or geared toward those who want to write poetic, epic stories, she believes every writer could learn something from this best-selling author.

Maybe there’s a lesson in there for all of us. The people who are doing the job and doing it well enough to earn their living, must have the right formula, whether you “admire” that person’s skill or not. Can you learn from it?

 

Who Makes the Most?

This week, Forbes Magazine announced the top ten earning authors of 2013. Really, there weren’t too many surprises, from authors who’ve been on the list for ages, and a few newer (although extremely popular) ones. There are books about wimpy kids, books that were too steamy for many, books about a quirky historical researcher and books with an extremely funny detective.

list

 

As Forbes points out, many of these authors publish multiple books each year…as in four or five!  It’s a HUGE number, but it certainly contributes to their overall earnings. The other main factor is that these authors write very commercial books (aside from E.L. James, although one could argue her books have made the genre popular).

So which authors made the the Top Five?

1. E.L. James at $95 million

2. James Patterson at $91 million

3. Suzanne Collins at $55 million

4.  Bill O’Reilly at $28 million

5.  Danielle Steel at $26 million

For the entire list, click on one of the book covers in the photo above.  It’s fascinating!

Would you read it anyway?

Just this past week, I’ve had to do this twice….mention to an adult, who has picked up a book by one of their favourite authors, that this new book is YA or even worse, for middle grade readers.  Why would they be so confused?  It seems that more often now, well established adult authors are trying their hand at writing for teens or kids.  Is it a way to make more money? Or is it just something they’ve always wanted to do? You be the judge.

Now, it’s not that we don’t want our patrons to read something they might like, it’s just that we feel the need to warn them that the subject matter might be a little below their interest level, or even slightly off the wall from what they’re used to reading. Sometimes, a patron will take it and say they want to try it anyway, but more often, they’ll put it down and say they didn’t realize.  They aren’t picking these up off the shelf, usually.  Either the book has been on a cart, or they’ve put it on hold over the internet. Either way, I always hope they’re not too disappointed.

James Patterson, who was just named the top selling author on this year’s Forbes list (he made $84 million last year), has not only released a series of books for Young Adults, but also one for the younger crowd. His Witch & Wizard series seems to follow the whole Harry Potter fling  (I’m sure he didn’t write to trend…..) but is directed at young adults. I think his middle grade book is more obvious.

Kathy Reichs also recently joined the ranks of YA authors with her book, Virals, which could also cross-over into adult reading quite easily (it involves a group of teens solving a crime). The great thing about this new series (the next book is about to be released) is that it comes with a fun, interactive website.

The Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer books by John Grisham are some of the latest to hit the market. Yes, the main character is a kid and he’s a lawyer…..but most teen and juvenile books play with the fantastical and make it work. (You’d probably never believe an adult book that had the main character going back to 1st grade as a student, but a kid lawyer?  It works.) The interesting thing about Grisham’s books for kids is that they don’t even appear on his official website, almost like they don’t exist at all. Is this because he doesn’t want his loyal adult readers to get confused?  I’m not so sure. But Theodore Boone has his very own interactive website that looks like lots of fun.

Of course, there are many more authors I could use as an example, but these are some of the more famous few. What’s your feeling as an adult reader…would you try any of these, just because they’re written by your favourite author?