James Patterson says white writers face ‘another form of racism’, can’t get into writing

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As James Patterson reflected on the state of the writing world today, the best-selling thriller with an estimated net worth of around $800 million lamented that one group in particular is struggling to find labor: white men.

In fact, America’s richest author noted in The Sunday Times how white men – especially older white men – experience what he described as “another form of racism” when they It’s about trying to break through as writers in television, film, theater or publishing. .

“What is this all about? Can you get a job? Yes. Is it harder? Yes,” Patterson, 75, told the British newspaper. “It’s even harder for writers You don’t meet a lot of 52-year-old white men.

Now Patterson is facing backlash from critics and writers who say the author has blatantly ignored recent data showing how the publishing industry has been and remains “a business owned by to white men. In a Penguin Random House diversity self-audit, the publisher found that approximately 75% of contributors during this period were white. Only 6% were black, while 5% were Hispanic, according to the audit. The company also acknowledged that more than 74% of its employees are white.

Post Reports: ‘Publishing is still a white male-owned business’

A 2019 survey by children’s publisher Lee and Low Books found that 85% of publishing staff who acquire and publish books are white. A 2020 New York Times report found a similar result in the US publishing industry, with 89% of books written in 2018 being written by white writers.

“James Patterson of All Peoples”, bestselling author Roxane Gay tweeted. “First, write your own books, buddy.”

Patterson uses ghostwriters to help him release several titles a year.

On Tuesday afternoon, Patterson tweeted an apology, saying, “I absolutely do not believe racism is practiced against white writers.”

With over 300 titles to his credit, Patterson is one of the most prolific writers in the publishing world. He has sold more than 400 million copies of his books, with The New Yorker this week praising Patterson as “the world’s best-selling author”. His 260 New York Times bestsellers led Publisher’s Weekly to call him the best-selling author since 2005.

Forbes reported in 2018 that Patterson was worth an estimated net worth of $800 million, linking him to golfer Tiger Woods. Patterson earned around $70 million in 2019 alone, according to Forbes, behind JK Rowling.

As hundreds of millions of people bought his books, critics and authors questioned Patterson about his writing style and the use of ghostwriters to help him publish multiple titles a year. Patterson told The Washington Post in 2016 that her simple, declarative style was meant to “turn on the movie spotlights in our heads.”

“I took the fat out of commercial novels,” he said at the time. “In a lot of novels, there is more than there should be.”

James Patterson doesn’t usually write his books. And his new readers are mostly not reading — yet.

Patterson’s rise was due, in part, to the success of his “Alex Cross” series, in which a fictional black detective threatens his family and Washington. The series led to three films, with actor Morgan Freeman portraying Cross in “Kiss the Girls” and “Along Came a Spider”.

When the Sunday Times observed the early success of a series involving a black lead character, Patterson noted that race had not played a role in the development of one of its most memorable characters.

“I just wanted to create a character that happened to be black,” Patterson said. “I wouldn’t have tried to write a serious saga about a black family. It’s different in a crime novel because the plot is so important.

In addition to his comments about white men in publishing, Patterson denounced the decision of his own publisher, Hachette Book Group, to drop Woody Allen’s memoir in 2020 after employees staged a protest against the book in because of the long-standing sexual abuse allegations against the famous director. Allen’s memoir, “Apropos of Nothing”, was eventually picked up by Arcade Publishing.

“I hated it,” Patterson said of Allen’s book being taken down. “He has the right to tell his own story.”

Patterson added, “I’m almost always on the side of free speech.”

But much of the focus of Patterson’s interview was on his assertion that white men struggle to find work in publishing. Gina Denny, associate editor at TouchPoint Press, Noted that when USA Today reported on Patterson’s comments, only nine authors on the paper’s 150 bestseller list were non-white writers. Three of Patterson’s titles made the list, while only five Women of Color and four Men of Color made the bestseller list. The rest were white men between the ages of 36 and 84, Denny said – and some of the white men on the list are long dead.

“Dead white men are statistically as likely to make USA Today’s bestseller list as people of color,” Denny said. wrote.

Before Patterson’s apologyseveral black writers took exception to Patterson’s comments, including Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, author of “This is Why I Resist”.

“What an obtuse statement from James Patterson. He better pick up some books and educate himself on what racism is,” she said. wrote. “Missing the good old days when white men had ALL the writing gigs?”

Frederick Joseph noted that 20 publishers rejected “Patriarchy Blues,” which became a bestseller last month, because it said publishers “didn’t think people would buy a book by a black man discussing the patriarchy”.

“James Patterson thinks white men face racism in publishing,” wrote Joseph, who has written two bestselling books. “From a black man who had over 50 books (all of which are now bestsellers) turned down because white publishers don’t understand them or ‘already have black male authors’…shut up. “

joseph added“Support black writers.”

All the while, Patterson continues to sell. His autobiography, “James Patterson by James Patterson,” debuted last week, and “Run, Rose, Run,” his March bestseller, was recently picked up by Sony Pictures, according to Deadline.


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