A Multimillionaire White Male Author Apologized For Talking About How Hard It Is For White Male Authors

“If you’re a white man and you’re having trouble finding work, reflect on whether some of that difficulty is self-inflicted."

Women and non-white writers say bestselling author James Patterson's comments that white men face racism in the industry are about as believable as his psychological thrillers.

"The myth that people of color have an easier time getting their work published is simply untrue and harmful," said Roseanne A. Brown, a New York Times bestselling author of young adult books.

Patterson, the 75-year-old crime and mystery novelist who in the past three months has published an autobiography and coauthored a book with Dolly Parton, said an interview with the UK's Sunday Times that he feared it has become difficult for white men to get film and publishing jobs and called it “just another form of racism.”

“Can you get a job? Yes. Is it harder? Yes,” Patterson said. “It’s even harder for older writers. You don’t meet many 52-year-old white males.”

Patterson apologized on social media three days after the interview was published, saying, “I absolutely do not believe that racism is practiced against white writers.”

But the comments made their mark on Book Twitter, where members of the book community fought back against his frustrating statements.

Twitter: @RdotSpoon

Brown told BuzzFeed News that Patterson’s comments “struck a nerve” with her as a Black woman.

“It's part of an insidious pattern myself and many BIPOC authors face, where a few gains by writers of color in our industry are seen as this overwhelming wave pushing white writers out,” she said

Instead the industry remains skewed toward white writers, and the majority of people working in publishing — from the editors to the sales and marketing reps — are also white, noted Brown.

According to the New York Times, 89% of books published in 2018 were written by white authors. The Diversity Baseline Survey found that 85% of the people who acquire and edit books are white as well.

“The idea that white people in publishing are suffering from reverse racism is nonsense,” said Margaret Owen, a YA fantasy author, who is white. “My feeling is, if you’re a white man and you’re having trouble finding work, reflect on whether some of that difficulty is self-inflicted."

Multiple people pointed out that Patterson once published children’s books from authors with diverse backgrounds under his Jimmy Patterson imprint, but now only prints his own solo or coauthored work.

“His whole ‘white authors are suffering thing’ comes after a ‘I want to profit off diversity’ thing,” Latinx graphic designer and writer Sandra Proudman wrote on Twitter.

Librarians noted that Patterson, who has written more than 200 books, takes up quite a bit of (literal) room in the literary realm.

Our library canceled James Patterson and with the extra space we now have a new 1000 sq ft community room

Twitter: @RantyLibrarian

“As a librarian, all I’m saying is that my library could replace half of our James Patterson books with books by marginalized authors and we would still have more Patterson books than books by almost any other single author,” @dirty_librarian wrote on Twitter.

Patterson is one of the richest living writers — the New Yorker just published a profile centered around how wealthy he is — thanks to more than 400 million books sold, his prolific publishing output, and his production company that turns those bestsellers into TVs and shows.

In contrast, Black authors — both historically and still today — regularly receive lower advances for their work. Brown told BuzzFeed News that the hashtag #PublishingPaidMe, created by author L.L. McKinney, highlighted that discrepancy.

Your whateverteenth reminder that #PublishingPaidMe was about showing the disparity between Black authors and non-Black authors specifically—born from the context of events during summer 2020—with the gap between white authors and authors of color being revealed as a result.

Twitter: @ElleOnWords

“This is on top of dealing with racism and other forms of bigotry both in the lead-up to and after the launch of our books,” she said. “I'd like to see more energy put toward supporting BIPOC authors by way of livable advances, increased in-house marketing and sales support for BIPOC-authored books, and increased hiring and retention of BIPOC employees.”

Though much of the power to shake up the industry lies with the people who sign checks at publishing houses, Book Twitter hasn’t stopped roasting Patterson with statistics and memes. It was enough to draw a response out of Patterson, so maybe word will get around to the powers that be.

you know, booktwt can be a divisive, unproductive, reductive cesspool of mini-factions, cliques, and bad-faith readings, but at times like these, it's nice to see us all unite to say emphatically, fuck a james patterson

Twitter: @what_eats_owls

Do huge authors know that they can… just stop talking?

Twitter: @EKTwrites

i too wish to struggle like james patterson and his 86 million book deals are struggling

Twitter: @rosiesrambles
Twitter: @KalynnBayron

James Patterson of all people. First of all, write your own books, pal.

Twitter: @rgay

James Patterson has a net worth of over 700 million dollars meanwhile BIPOC in publishing are still struggling to pay their rent and working for well under a living wage but please tell me again how racism is hurting older white men in the industry

Twitter: @byleahjohnson

Be a Rick Riordan and never a James Patterson

Twitter: @ElloEllenOh

instead of (continuing) to talk about james patterson why dont you go buy at least two books by BIPOC authors? (🧵)

Twitter: @nekesaafia

James Patterson can't even get a job writing his own books

Twitter: @AshDylanLit

I volunteer to be as persecuted as James Patterson. Especially in my wallet.

Twitter: @LR_Lam

Have we checked to see who actually wrote the quote by James Patterson

Twitter: @MissDahlELama

As a black person, I know what it’s like to feel oppressed in publishing, and so that’s why I’m partnering with James Patterson to promote white male voices, the truly oppressed group* (*why would he say this 💀 i hope that his ghostwriter is already working on his apology)

Twitter: @joelrochesterr

Really want to thank everyone for doing such a great job roasting James Patterson. I really needed that today.

Twitter: @anneursu

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