Category: publishing news

James Frey’s Hot 7 Figure Deal

James Frey’s Hot 7 Figure Deal

A few might not know who James Frey is, so I’m posting this link for more depth. In a more general sense, Frey is an author who wrote a non-fiction book titled, A Million Little Pieces, that garnered him the title of bestselling author. It was what’s considered “a big book” in publishing. He gained a good deal of fame by going on Oprah. And then it was disclosed that his non-fiction book had been fictionalized, that he’d lied to his publisher, Oprah, and the rest of the world. He returned to the Oprah show and sat in a chair while she basically ripped him to shreds for duping her.

I saw both of the Oprah shows on which he appeared and I watched him give the world a first hand account of the fresh hells he’d been through as an alcoholic, in A Million Little Pieces. It was touching. It was moving. We all thought it was the absolute truth. And then I also watched him the second time on Oprah when he went back after news broke that his non-fiction was more fiction than anything else. He sat there slumped over in a chair while Oprah questioned his motives, and rightly so on her part. But I couldn’t help thinking the book was good in spite of the embellishment.

Anyone would think that was enough to end Frey’s career and finish him off for good. However, Frey went on to write more bestselling books, including YA fiction. And from what I’ve seen it’s all been through what clearly resembles a combination of extremely hard work on his part, determination like I’ve never seen, and the best line of bullshit I’ve seen in years.

It was announced that his most recent book/film deal is the first seven figure deal of 2014:

Deadline reports that Frey has sold a new book to HarperCollins, “Endgame,” along with film rights to 20th Century Fox. The screen deal is for a rumored $2 million to $2.5 million, and is said to include Frey writing the screenplay.

You can read more here. It’s an interesting, though far from objective, article because it gets into Frey’s background a little, and talks about the publishing company he started for YA authors/books called Full Fathom Five. And there’s been controversy there, too.

From Wiki:

In November 2010, controversy arose when an MFA student who had been in talks to create content for the company released her extremely limiting contract online. The contract allows Frey license to remove an author from a project at any time, does not require him to give the author credit for their work, and only pays a standard advance of $250.

Yeah, well, most e-publishers don’t even give advances and authors are thrilled to get the work. I don’t know much about any of this, other than bits and pieces I’ve read. I’ve also heard that Frey gave opportunities to authors who otherwise wouldn’t have had work. But the one thing that does bother me is that Frey has been slammed because Endgame is allegedly similar to The Hunger Games in concept. And in this one respect I don’t think it’s fair, and I don’t think an author…or anyone…should be faulted for taking a concept or idea and bringing it to another level. In the 1960’s the TV show I Dream of Jeannie was a direct result of the hit TV show Bewitched.  It wasn’t that one show directly copied the other, but the idea (magic) was used and reinvented with different characters and different approaches. The same could be said about many other TV shows, and films. Think about how many shows were spawned as a result of American Idol. They took a concept and did something different. I think it happens more often than not in books and authors can get away with it more freely because they know clever little tricks most people wouldn’t spot.

And most of all people are expecting this brand of entertainment. And if an idea or a concept works, and there is someone smart enough who can see that this is what the public wants and he/she is willing to give it to them, should we fault them for doing this? Or should be fault them for working hard and making money? And yet here are two more opinions, from the article link above:

Paul Constant books editor at Seattle’s the Stranger, tweeted, “James Frey is still terrible, and he’s still being rewarded for it. His Hunger Games ripoff sold for $2 million.” Writer Sarah Weinman followed by tweeting, “Suzanne Collins‘ people should be looking at this with a very, very fine-toothed comb.”
Evidently, the public doesn’t agree with Constant, or those who would rather hang James Frey in a public square for being successful and giving people what they want. And I think the public will decide on Endgames, and this won’t be the last time someone took a good idea and ran with it, and it certainly isn’t the first.

Not every author/producer wants to create great art that two or three critics will love and three or four people will read. Some want to entertain the public and give them what they want.


E-book Netflix; Digital in Libraries and Schools; Six Word Twitterfest

E-book Netflix

There’s something new coming for people who can’t get enough e-books that’s going to be like Netflix is for movies. Those who are honest and don’t pirate books and movies will love this. With the leveling off of e-book sales, people who read e-books are now being called “heavy readers” compared to those who still read print books. According to this piece, the average person who reads e-books reads 24 books a year in comparison to the average person who reads print books, which is around 15 books a year.

So it makes sense that these readers might welcome new ways to feed their habits. The notion of “a Netflix for books” has been kicked around for a while. Oyster.com, a ballyhooed new venture backed by such digital glitterati as Sean Parker and Peter Thiel, just launched its beta version, but it’s not the only promising option out there.

You can read more here. The article goes on to mention a few more differences between readers. I still think some of this information is off, because I see more people reading on tablets and devices than ever before. I just don’t think they are buying as many books as they did in the past, and that’s partly because the price of e-books is still way to high for most people. If I were to decide on e-book prices they would range from 1.99 – 6.99, and not a penny higher. There’s this feature I’ve seen on my Verizon On Demand movie rental section where they pre-release movies. You can’t rent those for 4.99 or 5.99. You can only buy them for prices that range from 16.99 – 19.99. I pass every single time. I know I’ll be able to see it for less eventually. Consumers aren’t stupid.

Digital in Libraries and Schools

For those who think e-books are only a trend like the hoola hoop was, you might want to reconsider. I don’t know a single kid in my circles who isn’t reading e-books, who doesn’t have a tablet or e-reading device of some kind, and doesn’t know how to use technology as if it came to them as part of their birthright. And I’m talking about kids who come from various income backgrounds. Some are from privilege and others are not. College students are now looking to download books for free because they can’t get the digital versions yet and they don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars for a book they will only use for a few months of their lives.

In this article it talks about Youtube veteran, Lee C. Milstein, joining Overdrive and heading up a new department that will focus on distributing e-books to libraries and schools.

Milstein, who has also held leadership roles at AOL and DivX, will lead OverDrive’s emerging digital media businesses. This includes expanding the company’s push into streaming video and education content and services. Milstein will also guide the organization’s overall strategy and strategic partnerships. Milstein will also lead a market development team that will be based in New York City, a first time the company has had a presence in the city.

My sister is a school teacher at a charter school in Allentown, PA, and all I hear from her is how she has to learn something new almost each week that’s related to all things digital.

Six Word Twitterfest

This actually reminds me of a short shot story contest that used to (and may still be) held by Writers’ Digest Magazine. Writers had to write a short story in 1,500 words or less in order to qualify. The only difference now with the twitterfest deal is that you can only write six words.

From the press release, and you can read more here.

Six-Word Memoir began as a contest in collaboration with Twitter in 2006, asking people to tweet their response to a simple challenge: ‘Can you tell the story of your life in six words?’ Seven books and more than 700,000 Six-Word stories later, Six Words have become an easy and inspired form of engagement to get to the essence of anything.” What do you think?

I think it’s fun, and I love word economy. That’s was editing is all about, not fixing punctuation and grammar. That’s called copyediting.

Publishing News…

I received an intersting e-mail from a friend who follows the publishing industry very closely. I thought it was very good news, so I’m posting it anonymously below.

Today’s post brought a very exciting offer from Barnes and Noble. As many of you knowFictionwise was recently purchased by B&N for something on the order of 15M. Lovely number for being one of the first ebook distributors on the block. Barnes and Noble has decided to catch up, and is launching their own ebookstore THIS year. All content available at FW will also be available at B&N when they’re new site launches.

As many of you know, B&N is also testing the new $50K bookbinding machines in their brick and mortar stores. To have manufacturing capabilities in the actual stores is revolutionary, we know – and a step ahead of what Amazon can ever do, considering the customer can pick up the actual book, leaf through it, and order a copy to be printed, bound and chopped in the next five minutes. Lets hope our ebook distribution agreement makes us first to upload our POD content when they start accepting it.Very exciting times in the publishing industry, folks. Ebooks just went MAINSTREAM!! !OXOX