Making lots of cash out of trash
Move over, JK Rowling. Former advertising executive James Patterson (below) -- the man who thinks that sentences "shouldn't get in the way of a good story" and who has been dismissed by Stephen King as a "terrible writer" of "dopey thrillers" -- has become the world's best-selling author.
Between 2007 and 2008, Rowling's Harry Potter books earned their author a phenomenal €180m, but she hasn't published anything since then, and Patterson -- who relies on a team of assistants to help devise his plots and finish his books -- is now commercial king of the bestselling hill, making over €50m in sales in the last 12 months. In fact, one in every 17 books currently bought in the United States is written (or co-written) by him.
That's a depressing thought, but no more depressing than some of the other names on Forbes magazine's just-published list of the Top 10 bestselling authors. Teen-vampire specialist Stephenie Meyer, almost as bad a writer as Patterson, is in second place, having made over €30m last year, and she's followed by Stephen King, Danielle Steel, Ken Follett, Dean Koontz, Janet Evanovich (who's she?), John Grisham, Nicholas Sparks (who's he?) and lastly JK Rowling, who made a mere €12m since June 2009.
Real writers must despair when they contemplate such figures, but then real writers are concerned with nobler thoughts than money, aren't they? Art for art's sake and all that...
Still, Emma Donoghue must be pleased that, since her new novel Room was nominated for the Man Booker longlist, it has sold almost 5,000 more copies. That's impressive for a literary novel, though not as impressive as Australian author Christos Tsiolkas's The Slap, also longlisted, which has sold an extra 20,000 copies since the Man Booker announcement.
And that's despite -- or maybe because of -- the fact that The Slap has been attacked by some reviewers as "unbelievably misogynistic" and as perpetuating crude racial stereotypes.