Patricia Cornwell’s books take-up two rows in my local library. Danielle Steele, now 68, has slowed in recent years, but she’s holding strong with two shelves of her own. James Patterson — the master — leads with four.
They churn out books faster than you can finish your coffee browsing online to see what e-book you’re going to buy next.
For example, Patterson has written 147 novels since 1976 (selling more than 300 million copies worldwide, more than Dan Brown, John Grisham, Stephen King combined.) And he’s not done. Patterson’s website states that he’s got three books (with cowriters) coming out in hardcover in the next 60 days. And more coming the rest of the year.
He’ll come out with new entries for the NYPD Red series; the 15th book in the Women’s Murder Club series; and a young reader follow-up called Jacky Ha-ha about a girl who makes people laugh.
And I can’t even finish one book.
But, it doesn’t stop me from thinking about how I would spend my time if I were in Patterson’s shoes and a famous author. I know exactly how I’d spend my time:
–I’d go to the library. Everyone would see me in the library and assume that I was performing research for my next book. They wouldn’t dare interrupt me. Oh they would want to get my autograph, but they wouldn’t want to bother me as I work on the next Great American Novel. No one would be wiser to me playing Angry Birds, Words with Friends, or Draw Something on my smartphone.
–Run. A writer has to keep up good impressions. However, I would probably run indoors. I wouldn’t want to risk running outside and getting run over. Stephen King went running one early afternoon along Route 5 in Lovell, Maine, was struck by a distracted minivan driver and nearly died. In addition, I wouldn’t want people to see me with a tan and get the wrong impression. Need to keep up the charade that I spend my days indoors slaving away at the keyboard.
–Sleep until noon.
–Read the newspaper. And another. And another. I don’t care what you see and hear, writers like to read their own reviews. They may not like them, but they love to see their names in print. I’m no different.
–Lunch in New York and Philly. Again, I would need to “see and be seen.”
–Read the classics. When a fan calls me the greatest thing since Fitzgerald, Hemingway, or Salinger, I need to know who these writers are so that I can add to the conversation and modestly wave off their praise. “Oh, you’re too kind,” I would say.
–Watch a lot of bad TV. Anyone up for binge watching “Law & Order”?
–Hire an intern to write my next book. Make a few edits. Make a few more minor edits. Slap my name on the book, the interns name in 8-point font, preferably on the back cover, and voila present my new book to my publisher. Got to keep the new books and the money coming in the door.
–Repeat the last step, two or three times a year. If I want to catch up to Patterson, maybe ramp it up a bit more, publishing four or five books a year.
Oh, sure my plan would be a huge lie . . . but how is that different from what the big time authors do today and we still line up every few months to buy their latest books.
Of course, I’m forgetting about another minor, but very important detail: My conscience would get in the way. Damn morals. Back to being a small-town blogger. Ugh.