...is just taking up too much of our time. Our latest work-in-progress is taking forever and a day (if you understand that forever means several months, while and a day means another few weeks after that). Yet the big name guys -- James Patterson and Tom Clancy and Clive Cussler -- manage to produce novel after novel in-between attending dozens of high society soirees. Or traveling to bake sales, or getting free balloons at auto shop openings, or doing whatever it is that successful writers do when they're not writing. Once we're successful, we'll let you know what a hit writer does in his or her free time. Mostly, we plan to hang out at the bagel shop. Yummmm, bagels.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Patterson put out 13 novels in 2012 alone. Thirteen! We doubt we'll write 13 completed novels in our entire career.
Doing a little research, we once again discovered the secret behind these prodigious outputs. All of these Big Name Writers use other scribes to help with their manuscripts, at least on occasion. Even Janet Evanovich has jumped on the co-author bandwagon, enlisting Lee Goldberg to help with her newest novel. (Why did we happen to notice the Evanovich/Goldberg team-up? In this case, the best-selling author wasn't the name that caught our attention. Neither of us reads the hit Stephanie Plum series but one of us really likes the guy who wrote the Monk t.v. show novelizations.)
Since "Renée Harrell" is a team consisting of two co-writers, you'd think we'd be matching these guys word for published word but no, we're not even close. We went in search of their secret writing tips, wanting to know how the magic happens. Because we know you're a curious sort, we're going to share some very public knowledge that you may not have stumbled across on your own:
From Entertainment Weekly in regards to James Patterson: He's an actual book factory, typically using credited co-authors to compose "first drafts" from elaborate outlines that he sends. (The Standard-Examiner provided the rules all co-writers must follow when working with Mr. Patterson. Hit the link and enjoy.)
From USA Today in regards to Clive Cussler: He says he still does some of the writing, "but not as much as I used to." He and his co-authors work out the plots -- "the hardest part after all those books, not to repeat myself" -- then "they go off and write the first 50 or so pages. They send it to me, and I see how it's going, make changes and send it back. It seems to work well."
From the Dallas Morning News, when interviewing Janet Evanovich: "The first thing we did was sit down together to work out the basics. Who exactly was the heroine? Who was this con artist? Then Lee, who's brilliant at plotting, wrote the first draft. He would write about 50 pages, I'd make a few course corrections, and he'd go back and write more. Then I wrote the last draft, bringing it a little more into my voice."
The Los Angeles Times has no problem with the co-authoring thing: Clancy's hardly the only one: You see the same thing with other biggies in the mystery and thriller genres -- for instance, Clive Cussler and Mary Higgins Clark have made co-writers a family affair, sharing the bylines of some of their books with their children. Come to think of it, didn't the great master of 19th century doorstoppers, Alexander Dumas, have a co-writer of some kind? If that's the case, then Clancy and everyone else are in very good company.
Co-writing doesn't bother us, either, as long as credit is shared and people are upfront about the process. Patterson & Company have been pretty open about the whole thing. Even though our research failed to provide dollar numbers, we assume the Big Name Writer gets 80% of the cash while the Little Name Writer does 80% of the work...and that actually seems fair since the royalty payout is likely to be the biggest paycheck the LNW will ever see. But the thing of it is, we now want someone to do most of our work while taking very little credit (The Preacher's Son by RENEE HARRELL and Tim Smith) and even less money. Say, five bucks, tops.
Which will never happen but it does give us a new idea. As soon as this is posted, we're going over to Fiverr.com to see if we can find someone willing to write our next blog post for $5 and a tiny bit of credit. It would give us a bit more time to work on our slow-moving novel and it will be fun to see if anyone is interested.
See you next week.
Quote o' the day: "Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up." -- Stephen King