11/16/10

The James Frey Boycott?

So a very smart blog buddy of mine Amy K. Nichols, who I met at SCBWI LA 2010, posted a scandalous article on her blog yesterday. It talks about a snake in the grass named James Frey who underpays YA writers and creates mindboggling legal contracts that offer no protection to the client.  James Frey's company, Full Fathom Five, is a YA book packager. (To read what book packagers are stay tuned for my article later this week.)

To find out exactly what the story is read this:
Inside James Frey's Sweatshop-Like Novel Factory

And then read this:

There are lots more links within those articles that I found interesting but those two are the basics.  He's supposedly doing these immoral practices to discover the next "Twilight." all the while keeping the money in his pocket.  He was asked to speak at a graduate writing program at Columbia where he, in my opinion, seems to shoot from the hip throwing out colorful answers with a few F-bombs to impress his college audience.  (See the article here James Frey Fiction Factory.) After reading that I agreed with Amy's statement:
Don’t give him your time or money. Send his sleazy plan down in flames.
My first reaction was, scum bag.  Second, I'm not too worried. (don't worry there's a big BUT coming)  Though I believe there are a lot of people out there who get taken everyday by some con artist looking for a quick buck, I think this lesson goes back to common sense. Don't put your signature anywhere without understanding the fine print. If that means getting legal advice on a document, then by all means that is what you should do. Anyone who is talented enough to write something that great, surely has common sense when it comes to contracts BUT...

...I continued to read about this Frey character and how he just settled on a legal battle with the author to "I Am Number Four," his company's first successful release from Full Fathom Five, the content-production company started and owned by James Frey himself.  This made me a little nervous. I can't seem to find ANY details about the legal battle (if you do please post in the comments) but the book (on my must read list) has a film coming out and I think it has will be a huge hit.  How did a talented writer fall prey to this?

I believe Maureen Johnson said it best:
There’s no point in just hand waving about how awful James Frey is, because I seriously doubt he cares. 
Yep, she's right.  He probably doesn't care and most likely loving the negative press because research shows that in some instances negative publicity can have a net positive effect on the bottom line, such as increased sales despite bad press.

Sign a contract with James Frey or Full Fathom Five?  I personally plan to never do business with either.


Boycott their books?  Well if they still own the rights to "I Am Number Four" then no, I won't be boycotting because I really do want to read the book. (Sorry Amy.) Even if I did want to boycott him/his company I'm not sure it is possible without a severe due diligence on my behalf.  (Unless of course he is listed as the author.) Is a book packager's name listed near the publisher and copyright information inside a book?  The reality is I probably won't look there even if it is.  So the chances of me boycotting his handy work without an obvious "Made by James Frey/Full Fathom Five" stamp on it are slim.  Also I have to wonder, with his name being dragged through the mud will big publishers like Harper Collins continue to work with him?   I suspect if they are presented with a well written piece then the answer is yes.  They can only speak for the contracts they offer the writer and not the contracts a writer has with their agent/book packager.

Either way I felt the need to send out this warning.  You can decide whether or not to boycott, or at the very least shake your head in disapproval.

5 comments :

  1. Yikes! That's scary. Putting him on my bad list.

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  2. Great post, Dana, and thanks for the shout out. I realized after I posted my blog that we probably won't know which books are created by Frey's sweatshop without some kind of research or disclosure by word of mouth. If I find out a book (like Number Four) were written by FFF, I won't read the books, regardless of how popular it is. I personally can't stomach that, and there are plenty of other great and legitimate books to read. That's where I draw my line.

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  3. Is this the same cat that was exposed as a liar, making up his entire autobiography after a million dollar advance and exposure on Oprah? I'm pretty sure that dude was named James Frey. Sorry. I'm not researching it for the sake of this comment.

    Sounds like an ass though.

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  4. That's despicable. Thanks for the heads up. I have no problem boycotting the book, since my TBR pile is so high it's going to fall over.

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  5. Catherine - Totally, he's getting cole from Santa for sure.

    Amy - You know I was thinking of a way around reading I AM Number Four and still boycotting him, I'll just borrow the kook from somebody or get it at the Library. Therefore I have not directly benefited his pocket. Boycott achieved!

    MC Howe - Yep, he is one in the same. People like that don't usually change.

    Diana - Despicable is a perfect descriptive for the guy. Yeah my TBR pile is toppling over as we speak too.

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