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I have been editing, writing, and ghostwriting in one form or another for decades: longer than some authors have even been alive. So when all those ads for James Patterson's Master Class on writing started showing up on my Facebook feed, I ignored them. I don't need those, and I certainly don't need to pay $90 for them.
After all, I've been writing professionally since 2002. That means for more than 15 years (as of this writing) I've been finding and interviewing clients, putting together proposals, and writing novels for other people. And while I don't always get to see what's come of some of those novels after I've sent them off to the clients, the sheer number of repeat clients looking to expand their novels into a series kept me confident enough to know I was doing a good job of it.
And, to be perfectly honest, I was a little angry at James Patterson. True, I had never even met the guy, but he really made my life hell for a short while. You see, it's no secret that James Patterson often employs ghostwriters to write some of his books -- a practice that has me a bit jealous because he's never hired me.
And it's a practice that other fiction writers find revolting. As a ghostwriter, it's nearly impossible to walk into a writing group and not see all the hatred they have for us. And as such they disparage the ghostwriting profession and those who would find work doing it. I've been told point blank that all ghostwriters should fail and ghostwriting should be illegal.
I've been called stupid many times for selling the rights to stories I crafted for the sake of a dollar rather than venturing out into publishing those same stories (stories that weren't even mine, I might add) on my own. Or that I would allow men like James Patterson to reach heights of fame where he dare release a Master Class on Writing when he doesn't even write his own materials anymore.
And I never set out to be like Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, or James Patterson. I never set my goals on dozens of bestsellers, movie deals, and fame. I just wanted to write. And clearly I know enough about writing to do just that.
Then it came...the dare.
I was talking to a good friend of mine, another ghostwriter, who admitted to me that he was taking that class. And he thought I should enroll as well. "After all, you're always preaching about life-long learning and constant improvement. Why purposely turn down the opportunity to do both?"
Ugh.... I hate it when my friends are right.
So I visited the class several times over the next few months. Every time the ad popped up in my Facebook feed or any other page, I visited and read over all the information. Then in November, as a NaNoWriMo winner I was given a free lesson straight out of the class.
I was enthralled. I sat through that lesson on editing four or five times. And each time I found myself muttering phrases ranging from "yep, yep...knew that" to "why didn't I ever think of that?"
Yes, I was learning. And it was brilliant.
How James Patterson's Use of Ghostwriters Affect his Work
One aspect that often gets overshadowed by Patterson's success is the involvement of ghostwriters in his literary empire. It is an open secret within publishing circles that many books bearing Patterson's name are actually written by other talented writers who remain invisible in order to preserve his brand image.
This revelation may come as a shock to those who perceive authors as solitary figures pouring their hearts onto paper. The truth is that many acclaimed authors like Patterson rely on a team of skilled wordsmiths to bring their visions to life. The actual number of ghostwritten books may shock you.
While some argue that using so many ghostwriters makes them question his work ethic and credibility, I don't think Patterson's use of ghostwriters diminishes his achievement as a storyteller at all.
His skill lies in conceptualizing captivating plots and characters, and he collaborates with writers who possess the talent to translate those ideas into engaging narratives. That's what ghostwriters do. But even without the bylines, these anonymous, invisible authors deserve recognition for their contributions, as they breathe life into Patterson's stories while remaining hidden in the shadows.
The Enigmatic World of Ghostwriters
Ghostwriters, oh the enigmatic beings behind the masterpieces we adore! We literary phantoms serve a vital purpose in the vast realm of literature.
A ghostwriter is a skilled writer who remains in the shadows while crafting works for others. They possess a unique ability to capture an author's voice and transform it into captivating prose. Without these unsung heroes, many beloved books would remain unfinished or might never have seen the light of day.
Definition and Purpose of Ghostwriters in the Literary Industry
In simple terms, ghostwriters are hired guns armed with quills (or rather keyboards) who channel someone else's thoughts onto paper, all while remaining invisible to readers' eyes. They are chameleons within the writing world – adapting their style and voice to seamlessly blend with that of another individual. The purpose they serve is both noble and practical: bringing stories to life that might have otherwise remained dormant within an author's mind or archives.
Ghostwriting allows busy or aging authors to continue producing new works without compromising on quality or quantity. It enables collaborations between established authors who wish to explore new genres or expand their reach.
Insight into the Secrecy Surrounding Their Identities
Ah, the secrecy that veils ghostwriters like a thick fog on a moonlit night. It is both intriguing and frustrating, leaving readers longing to peel back the layers and unravel the truth. But why should we be denied this knowledge, my dear literary enthusiasts?
Shouldn't we celebrate the talented minds that breathe life into our favorite authors' words? Alas, I fear it is not so simple.
The secrecy surrounding ghostwriters stems from various factors. Publishers often wish to maintain an illusion of authorial consistency, fearing that public knowledge of multiple writers behind one name might diminish an author's brand or confuse readers.
Additionally, some authors prefer to keep their ghostwriters hidden, either out of pride or concern that revealing their collaboration would undermine their creative prowess.
And finally, there is the relationship between the author and the reader that must always be considered and, above all else, must alway be preserved.
You see, if you've spent any time writing your book at all so far, then you already know how vulnerable the process can make you feel. You're divulging secrets about yourself, fictionalized or not, and putting your heart and soul on the table for any reader to pick up on, judge, and make commentary on. It's a very difficult thing to do.
But slapping on another writer's name into the mix just, well, it's just awkward and weird and makes it seem like you're inviting a third party to watch you at your most intimate moment with a reader without that reader's informed consent.
It's just weird.
And no one wants that: not the author, not the publisher, not the reader, and definitely not the ghostwriter.
How does James Patterson Choose his Ghostwriters?
I wish I knew!
Oh, the enigmatic world of James Patterson and his selection process for ghostwriters! It's like a clandestine operation, shrouded in secrecy and mystery.
One can't help but wonder what criteria are employed to handpick these literary soldiers who will embark on the daunting task of capturing Patterson's unique storytelling voice. Is it their ability to emulate his style flawlessly?
Or perhaps their track record as wordsmiths? The truth remains elusive, hidden beneath layers of intrigue.
Speculation runs amok in literary circles about how one becomes part of James Patterson's elite ghostwriting team. Some say it involves an initiation process akin to that of a secret society. I don't think it goes that far, but sometimes it's fun to think about.
Whispers abound about hidden clues and puzzles strewn throughout Patterson's books, waiting to be deciphered by aspiring ghostwriters. It is said that those who can crack these literary codes prove themselves worthy of joining the ranks.
Maybe I should give some of them another read?
There is Also Speculation on Whether Past Experience or Writing Style Plays a Significant Role
When contemplating the selection process for James Patterson's ghostwriters, one cannot help but ponder the weight given to past experience versus writing style. Is it purely a matter of finding individuals with a proven ability to mimic Patterson's voice, replicating his trademark short chapters and electrifying suspense? Or does the esteemed author also seek writers who possess a unique creative flair that can seamlessly blend with his own?
Perhaps it is an intricate dance between familiarity and innovation, where ghostwriters must demonstrate both their adaptability and their distinctiveness. After all, Patterson's books have captivated readers worldwide, not just for their gripping plots but also for the undeniable essence of his storytelling prowess.
Only those who can strike a delicate balance between imitation and personal touch may stand a chance at being welcomed into the fold. In this clandestine world of James Patterson's ghostwriters, we are left to speculate on the selection process that lures these talented scribes into its web.
While some rumors suggest hidden puzzles and initiation rituals akin to secret societies, others ponder the role of past experience versus individual creative expression in being chosen for this coveted opportunity. Alas, until the veil is lifted and all secrets are revealed, we shall remain enthralled by this mesmerizing literary enigma.
Back to My Story: Was the James Patterson Masterclass Worth It?
As you might have guessed, after finishing the free lesson I won in NaNoWriMo, I took the plunge, paid the $90 and sat down take the full class right away. Three days later (hey, I have a toddler, so even self-paced video classes take me a bit of time), I "graduated." Want to know what I got for my $90 and three days of time?
- A dose of humility. I was good, but that was mostly because I was comparing myself to the people around me -- people who could write but weren't writers. Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of author friends, brilliant author friends who are twice the writer I am. But on a scale of my friends, I rated myself at about a decent 8 as far as writing ability and know-how. But after taking this class, I realize now that my scale was grossly biased. I was much closer to a 5 or 6.
- Preparedness. So my scale had to be adjusted and I had to rerate myself at a 5 or 6. This could have been a huge blow to my ego. But instead, I finished the class ready to ramp up my rating for real. And I felt like I knew how to do just that.
- Excitement. Not only did I get to learn tips and hints on writing techniques and processes themselves, I also learned motivational techniques and I ended the course fired up and ready to attack my works in progress and start getting them completed.
- Renewed commitment to my work. More than anything, I couldn't wait to apply all the new information I had learned to my ghostwriting projects. I had been suffering from a bit of an energy slump -- feeling as though too much of my time was being sucked away by ghostwriting projects and I couldn't complete any of my own projects. A classic case of work burnout. But now I find myself ready to take on even more. I've written up more proposals and bids on more projects than I had since last summer.
So why should a ghostwriter of more than 15 years professional experience take James Patterson's Master Class?
To learn more about the craft, about how to sell the craft, and how to stay excited about the craft. To relearn everything I thought I knew, and discover things I didn't know. And who knows, maybe one of these days, James Patterson really will hire me to ghostwrite with him. If I can learn this much from him from an online, self-paced class, I can only imagine how much I could learn working with him in person.
If you've ever thought about learning more about writing from an author like James Patterson, I recommend getting in there and taking the class yourself. You may just love your experience as much as I did!
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