Earlier this week, it was announced that James Patterson, the uber-prolific “author” dozens of best-selling books, had secured a new collaborating author: former President Bill Clinton. On the one hand, the approach is clear: Patterson’s operation has always been focused on volume and media attention - it’s how he’s managed to sell over 300 million books. He’s also often relied on co-authors to do the bulk of the writing, licensing his name in a wildly successful branding strategy. Why not generate buzz for a political thriller - one set in the White House - by teaming up with a hugely-familiar and charismatic former occupant?
I can only see, um, one glaring flaw in this plan.
You see, James Patterson’s target audience, well, it’s not the 18-35 demographic. It’s, well - to use a very technical term, it’s dads.
Are you seeing the problem?
Tell you what, call your dad - or any dad, really, doesn’t have to be yours, and ask them their feelings on Bill Clinton. I’ll wait.
Couldn’t get a hold of him? Well, we’ve got some market research on what your average Patterson reader, a 68-year-old-wearing-a-golf-tournament-hat-in-an-airport-bookstore Dad thinks of the 42nd President:
Yeah. This book is in trouble. Fortunately, James Patterson Inc. has secured a new co-author. Another prominent, retired Southerner of some public stature. An elder statesman. Someone who’s seen it all, and has stories to tell, and who-
[sound of golf cart approaching]
STEVE SPURRIER: Alright, Shakespeare, let’s knock this sucker out, I’ve got a tee time in 20 minutes.
JAMES PATTERSON: Mmm, yes, Mr. Spurrier, thank you for taking this meeting, we’re very pleased to form this new collab-
SPURRIER: Knock it off with that “Mister” crap, “Mr. Spurrier” was my father’s name, and also the name of that hobo I tricked into going to jail in my place back in ‘72. You can call me Ol’ Ball Coach. Or Mister. Call me Mister.
PATTERSON: Very good, then. Now, as you’ll see, we’ve done extensive market research for this next project, and-
SPURRIER: You do thrillers, right?
PATTERSON: Some would term it that, but I find the term is restrictive. There’s a thrill element, no doubt, but we consider them psychological-
SPURRIER: You do that Blair Witch movie?
PATTERSON: Well, no, I-
SPURRIER: That dang thing scared the bejeezus out of me. Desolate location, no one around, buncha screaming for no good reason. Felt like a Saturday night game in Starkville. Heckuva thing.
PATTERSON: I’m best known for the Alex Cross series of novels, a few of which have been adapted into well-received motion pictures.
SPURRIER: [examining bookshelf] Heck, you write all of these?
PATTERSON: With collaborators such as yourself, yes, I have authored a great number of-
SPURRIER: [picking books off the shelf and reading the covers] 1st To Die. This one’s about Peyton Manning in December, huh?
PATTERSON: I don’t know who that is, if we could focus on our novel, then-
SPURRIER: 12th of Never, boy, you really covered Peyton’s title runs, huh
PATTERSON: I reiterate, I’m not familiar with this person.
SPURRIER: Now, heck, here we go, Kiss The Girls, I love smoochin’ ladies. One of my favorite things. Why, just last night, I was with your wife, and-
PATTERSON: Mmm, yes, that’s one of my more popular works, it’s about a serial killer known as-
SPURRIER: [flipping through book] ain’t no pictures of the girls, though, you lost me, pal [hucks book over shoulder, breaking window] Listen, pal, you seem like you’ve done pretty well for yourself, you got a nice place here, but you’re like Peyton: you ain’t never won the SEC East.
PATTERSON: [reading Wikipedia on his tablet] It says here that this pizza-selling friend of yours actually won that division in 1997.
SPURRIER: Aw, the hell he did, that’s just a gag I’ve got going, messing with the Wikipedias. I also vandalized the Gamecocks football page to say they hired Will Muschamp to replace me. [bellows laughing] Can you imagine?
PATTERSON: If we could just bring it back to the collaboration for a moment, my team has already worked up a detailed outline of the story we’d like to sell, and I think you’ll find it quite interesting.
SPURRIER: [takes it, drops it directly into paper shredder]
PATTERSON: ... I don’t have a paper shredder.
SPURRIER: Brought my own. Anyways, I’ve got a thriller for you, hoss. It centers on a football coach.
PATTERSON: Provocative. Go on.
SPURRIER: Weaselly little fellow, angry bit about yay high [holds hand three feet off floor]. Big-time success at a big-time program, gosh, they love him, got statues and what-all of him outside the stadium. Won a handful of championships, even - boy, you can’t touch him, he’s on top of the world. Just signed a contract to be the top-paid coach in football. And then -
PATTERSON: [typing] I’m already 100 pages in, keep going.
SPURRIER: He’s been kidnapped by a criminal mastermind who’s threatening to destroy it all.
PATTERSON: What happens next?
SPURRIER: Heck, I was hoping you had an idea.
[muffled scream and pounding from inside the golf cart’s trunk]
SPURRIER: Gonna demand they rename the stadium Butthead-Dummy.