Postcard For Reader + TIME

Thoughts On: Frey's Fiction Factory

Frey smiled, sat back in his Eames lounger, and said, “I have nothing to lose.”

Note: This is both a response to Frey's fiction factory and some comments on a blog post Alex did on it a while back.

Click here to read the article that revealed it all.

Alex posted about the fiction factory about a month ago, and that got me thinking about it again, especially with the movie version of I Am Number Four around the corner.

Part One: On Reading And Supporting The Books
Alex made some great points. If a book is good, you should be able to read it no matter where it came from. On the other end, though, there is so much wrong with what Frey is doing that I can't read think about reading the book with a creepy shiver running up my spine.

Yes, the writers have the option of signing the crappy contract. They know that they're working with Frey who is, honestly, a skeezeball. But look at the writers he's targeting: in debt college students who are doing everything they can to get published. He walks in, coerces them, and then gives them no credit, no money, nothing.

Now, I would gladly read any of those books. Why? Because they sound good. I know there are people who vow to never read a book from James Frey or the Fiction Factory no matter what because what he is doing is wrong. And it is wrong, but like I’ve said before, good books are being published. - Alex

Alex is completely entitled to his opinion. He can read whatever he wants, review whatever he wants, love whatever he wants. I have no problems with him.

However, I do have a problem with this sentence: And it is wrong, but like I’ve said before, good books are being published. When did this become acceptable!? These books could have been published with better contacts for these writers. We - I just - JFIKDSFJDKSDMLS.

It's hard to put my feelings on this to words. Yes, I understand that you can get good books out of this. But - to make an analogy - this is the sweatshop of YA fiction. I'm a member of the Harry Potter Alliance. (Bare with me; this is relevant.) The first real life Horcrux we tackled for the Deathly Hallows project was about fair trade chocolate. "Not in Harry's Name"; we didn't want Warner Bros. selling chocolate that wasn't fair trade. People needed to be paid fair, and if it cost us a few extra cents, we were okay with that because it was right.

We were desperate to be published, any way we could. We were spending $45,000 on tuition, some of us without financial aid, and many taking out loans that were lining us up to graduate six figures in debt. A deal like the one Frey was offering could potentially pay off our loans and provide an income for the next decade. Do a little commercial work under a pseudonym, sell the movie rights, and never have to suffer as a writer in New York. We wouldn’t even need day jobs. - NYT article

Why should it be any different for writing? As somebody who wants to be an author, who has friends who are authors, who has a mother who is an author, I know how important it is to be paid fairly. Nonfiction writers get up in arms when they're not getting paid fair. (I should know; there's an entire section dedicated in ASJA's monthly magazine about it.) Why should this be acceptable to us just because we're getting good books? Sure, the chocolate that Warner Bros. is putting out right now is great, but I'm not going to eat it, because every time I buy it, it means I'm supporting some chocolate sweatshop that's not paying their people properly.

It’s an agreement that says, ‘You’re going to write for me. I’m going to own it. I may or may not give you credit. If there is more than one book in the series, you are on the hook to write those too, for the exact same terms, but I don’t have to use you. In exchange for this, I’m going to pay you 40 percent of some amount you can’t verify—there’s no audit provision—and after the deduction of a whole bunch of expenses.” He described it as a Hollywood-style work-for-hire contract grafted onto the publishing industry—“although Hollywood writers in a work-for-hire contract are usually paid more than $250.” - NYT article

Part Two: Frey Himself
I want to slap this man.

Badly.

And should I ever have the opportunity, I probably will and risk being arrested or whatever, because this man needs an ego check.

He was looking for young writers to join him on a new publishing endeavor—a company that would produce mostly young-adult novels. Frey believed that Harry Potter and the Twilight series had awakened a ravenous market of readers and were leaving a substantial gap in their wake. He wanted to be the one to fill it. ... Frey said he was interested in conceiving commercial ideas that would sell extremely well.- NYT article

One of the important bits about the fiction factory, to me, is that it's aimed at YA. He thinks that he can just get a whole bunch of writers, tell them to write, and make a New York Times bestseller, because writing YA is that gosh-darned easy.

JGKOSDJFKSDFM. Really, Frey? Yes, we like good books. Sure, I Am Number Four did well. But I - just - NO. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. What he is doing is so morally wrong, so skeevy, so - GAH. I don't care about what he did with his memoir. I don't care what he does in his writing. But to do this to other people, good people, good authors, and to think that an entire genre of fantastic writing is so easy to manipulate and break into-

I don't believe in hating people I haven't met. It's hard with Frey.

Part Three: Your Opinion
I want to know what you think. Trust me, nothing you say is going to sway my opinion on Frey or the factory - if I feel physically sick while thinking about something, it's hard to convince me otherwise. However, I love reading what other people think about this. So please, tell me.

thoughts on, and more:

Thoughts On: Frey's Fiction Factory + TIME