… or are they just out of ideas?



with all due deference to both authors I’ve begun to notice a trend lately between Stephen King and James Patterson (there may be others but I’m noticing it more with them) that more recent books from them have been co-authored with someone else. At first I thought maybe it was just a new trend, perhaps it makes for more interesting literature like the mother-daughter duo who wrote the bestselling ‘House of the Night’ series. Admittedly I’ve never actually read the series but it’s very popular which makes me wonder, is co-authoring the new vampire novel… or are they just running out of ideas?

Maybe one or two books I would think it’s just authors trying something new, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it on at least three from both authors, and I’m sure there are plenty of other authors out there doing it, but the question to me is why? And secondly…how? I am very personal with my writing, the idea of letting someone else, particularly another author come in seems horrifying.

It’s worth noting that in both cases, some of the authors that both James Patterson and Stephen King are co-authoring with are to my knowledge unknown. So perhaps it’s in the same spirit of unknown singers being featured on the albums of very well known singers in the hopes of getting people interested in that unknown singer or conversely getting a different generation interested in the older singer.

What do you think? Is this the same as new/unknown artists being featured on the album of bigger artists or are authors running out of new ideas?

22 thoughts on “… or are they just out of ideas?

  1. I’m just sick of seeing all these Anne Rice/Twilight/Hunger Games/Battle Royale post-apocalyptic/dystopian/fantasy/scifi knock-off/imitator novels full of mindless drivel. I liked Anne Rice. I hate myself for liking Twilight. I enjoyed the Hunger Games. I CANNOT stand these unoriginal copycat plotted books flooding the market right now. It’s HARD to find a good dystopian novel. All the fantasy authors write about are vampires, werewolves, witches, and faeries, and they aren’t even well-written (Well, neither is Twilight but w/e), and it’s just….ugh, I could scream!! As for authors working with each other on one book? Usually it’s when the more well-known author has some issue that is preventing them from completing a novel on their own, so they bring in another one to help. That’s usually when the writing quality goes down. Look at Anne McCaffery and Marion Zimmer Bradley…best works were done before they brought in the co-author. After that, it went downhill.

    1. I totally agree with the copycat novel stuff, but it’s popular and some people just wanna ride the wave. My only concern with your comment on fantasy authors, is what else is there for fantasy beyond what you listed? Witches, vampires, fairies, werewolves is kind of the fantasy genre.

      1. PS. Sorry for rambling on and probably not making much sense. I have ADHD, and I’m pretty sure I forgot to take my medicine. Of course, now it’s too late in the day to take it unless I want to be up all night. (Sheesh, there I go, rattling on again)

      2. Very true about what makes up the fantasy genre, I was more taking aim at the *quality* of the writing suffering thanks to the *quantity* increasing. These writers are churning out these copycats in order to cash in quickly, and none of them seem to understand that yeah, there are 50 million novels out there about a new kid moving to a new school and all of a sudden the mysterious loner who everyone wants suddenly has an interest in the new kid, and of course, Mysterious Loner is more than what they seem to be, but it takes talent, or originality to craft a tale that has staying power. J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin, and yes, even Stephenie Meyer (on this list only for the fact that she took her idea, however awfully written, and made it work), have created stories that will, for various reasons, remain remembered and enjoyed long after my grandchildren (who better not come along until my kids are 30, goshdarnit…) have grandchildren of their own.

        I write. I have a few novels I have been working on, and maybe it’s just me, but I’m very demanding of the stories I weave. One is, actually, a dystopian novel. However, while the base story is very original, there were times I found my vision leaning towards the ebb and flow of The Hunger Games. Another is a fantasy genre, and while it is completely original and leans towards no direction or another, it is gathering dust because I refuse to let the fact that the two main characters are married to one another take over the underlying plot, and there are times when the romantic aspect takes up too much of the spotlight.

        But then again, I’m the stay at home mom of three who tries to figure out where to make cuts in the household budget to free up more money for groceries now that my youngest eats what seems to be my weight in food every day, and the bandwagon authors get to get their work published and collect the royalties. So maybe they’re the ones who’ve got it right and I’m just the literary snot sitting on a couple of tales that could be amazing, but do not meet my expectations of my own writing and talent. :-)

      3. You’ve come to the write blog then, my motto has been write, defiant for years. Which means don’t write something because it’s popular, write it because it’s what you need to write. The sad fact is it probably won’t sell as well as you like or even as well as it deserves, but at least you’re writing is true. I definitely know what you mean with not letting a romance take over the novel. In my own fantasy novel the two main characters are dating and (in book two do have a kid) but I definitely think their relationship takes a back seat to the importance of the story. I don’t do the whole loner in a new school who’s secretly something special because seriously it’s overdone and badly done in most cases.

        Ultimately though I completely understand where you’re coming from, quality often takes a back seat to quantity. Recently I read a blog from a writer who suggested that quantity was better because your writing would get better the more you did it. I have to disagree. While writing does get better, I don’t think being known for a hundred crappy books is going to get you as far as maybe one really good one. But that’s just me.

        Thanks so much for commenting, I really love new commenters, and especially ones who take the time to really explain their point of view.

      4. You hit the nail on the head with “I don’t think being known for a hundred crappy books is going to get you as far as maybe one good one”. It’s not just you.

        Hopefully I’ll be able to peruse some of your other posts tomorrow (my oldest goes to school, the Mister goes to work, and I get some time to myself to read). Either way, you’ve got a new follower.

  2. My theory about this phenomenon is that authors like James Patterson are only coming on later in the writing process — as in, an author sends them a manuscript, they read it, and if they love it, they help the author whip it into shape and then slap their name on the cover to help boost sales as a “co-author”. I have no idea if this is true, but that’s my thinking.

      1. Well, I actually think the point would be that the big name author is giving the new author’s career a jump start by attaching their name to the project. Kind of like how Carly Rae Jepsen became really popular after Justin Bieber signed her to his label and told all his fans to listen to her music and whatnot.

      2. It sounds good on paper, but I’m not really sold. It’s different for the music industry, but as one commenter already pointed out, more often than not the whole collaborative part does more harm than good. I guess it largely depends on the writers and the story.

  3. Funny you should be talking about this. I just read “A Face in the Crowd” last week written by Stephen King and Stewart O’Nan. It was okay, but not your usual Stephen King style. And I was wondering why he was collaborating with other authors?

    1. Thus far we’ve come up with several theories but no concrete conclusions as to why he and other authors are collaborating like this. It might not be a bad thing if it worked as well for both authors as it would (usually) in music, unfortunately what you have instead is 1, ok but not great book by two authors rather than, potentially two great books by the same two authors. It seems to be a trade off, possibly in an attempt to help an unknown author, but then if someone picked it up expecting the famous author they know, they may be sorely disappointed.

      1. I think It has to be a collaborated effort on both parts. For example; maybe you write a great story and are strong in the descriptive part, but are not good at writing dialogue, so you hand it over to someone else to write the dialogue into the story. With music you might have one person writing the rhythm of the guitar, another writing the beat for the drums, and yet another to write the lyrics, but still the bottom line is, they have to collaborate and be in agreement as to how the song turns out. Good comment A.J. you got my brain to working this morning! Thank you :-)

      2. Always glad to make people think and obviously nobody really does anything alone, it’s always some amount of collaboration in any industry.

  4. The process of co-authoring is called streaming. One author comes up with the overall concept and the second author comes up with several avenues the plot can take and they write the story together in that way. It’s so the more well-known author can remain prolific.

Let's chat.

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s