Wilbur Smith’s fans have said that they would like to read his novels faster than he can write them. So a new deal has been dreamed up whereby he uses co-authors. It sounds very similar to ghostwriters, though they usually work on celebrity biogs or novels. In this new venture Smith will hire co-authors to do the hard work of writing to his ideas.
There are some rumblings among literary purists.
However utilising co-authors is not a new concept. Anna Davis, a literary agent with Curtis Brown claims such tactics have been going on for centuries. “Alexander Dumas did it - he had a whole team of authors writing for him all the time. He'd plot things out and have other people do the donkey work."
The practice is used in the film industry and the art world. Damien Hirst uses "apprentices" to produce his works. James Patterson and Tom Clancy regularly hire co-authors. Patterson has become prolific with 14 new titles in one year. He sends out short chapter summaries – and I mean short at four lines long – and receives full length chapters to edit in return.
Naturally he became the highest-earning author. Forbes magazine says he earned an estimated $94m (£58.6m) in one year. No wonder there's not much left for the rest of the authors writing today! It seems the book-buying public cannot tell the difference between Patterson's work and that of an unknown co-author. Is that not a tad worrying?
Something else I've noticed is that authors are joining together to write a novel, but it goes out under both their names. I assume this is to help spark ideas, share the work load and widen the market for sales. Twice the number of fans must mean twice the sales.
Don't let the picture fool you. It is recent, and we did have some snow, but it barely lasted the day. Provided pretty colours in the sunshine. Who knew Tim was tall enough to make such a huge shadow?