I am not a number. I am a human being.

This is not a book. This is greed with a cover.

More controversy abounds…

I will not be reading “I Am Number Four.” I will not be seeing “I Am Number Four” in theaters.

I urge all of you to do the same.

Saturday night, my friend Cid sent out a tweet asking what people knew about the movie-based-on-a-book, “I Am Number Four”. Since I had been seeing quite a bit of the movie trailers and the books in stores, I asked her to share what she found.

Less than a minute later, information was thrown at her (and then passed to me) about why supporting the book or the movie is a Very Bad Thing.

Cid wrote an excellent post explaining the controversy behind “I Am Number Four” and James Frey. Frey is probably best known as the guy who wrote “A Million Little Pieces” — the memoir that turned out to be fake.

Frey’s newest venture,young adult publishing house Full Fathom Five, is basically a sweatshop for writers. Frey’s goal? To produce the next “Twilight”.

As a writer — I’m furious.

Frey is essentially taking writers who want to see their work published SO badly, that they enter a terrible contract that says: “I wrote this, but you can have it and pass it off as your own if you so wish. Oh, and if you need more stories, I’ll write those too.”

As much as I feel for these writers who are signing their soul away to the devil, I have to wonder: What kind of writers are they?

I understand the drive and desire of a writer to see their work published. Believe me, I do. What I can’t wrap my brain around is signing away all the rights to something you have written and just giving it away to someone who, if they so choose, can put their own name on the work and pass it off as their own.

Maybe it would be different if Frey was at least paying his army of writers decently. He’s not (and you can follow the links on Cid’s post to read the full expose).

Regardless of pay, here’s what really bothers me about these writers who sign Frey’s ridiculous excuse of a contract – they do so willingly.

Why, in this day of digital publishing and eBooks, would a writer willingly sign away all the rights to their manuscript? Especially to a douchebag like Frey?

You want to see your book on the shelves in a BN. I get it. I do. I really, really do.

But the way I see it, if you are truly a writer, you want your rights. You’ll write manuscript after manuscript and you’ll query dozens of agents, until finally, at last, you get that golden contract that allows you to keep the rights to your own work. Gee, what a concept.

Or.

You’ll go the indie route. You’ll turn your (hopefully edited/revised) manuscript into an epub for eReaders on a site like Smashwords. You’ll put it for sale on a print-on-demand site, like CreateSpace.

You don’t just give away your work and allow someone else to put their name on it and keep the money it earns.

So as much as I think James Frey is a douchebag, I still have to wonder about the writers willingly going into a contract with him.

As writers, why do you write: fame/money or just to write? How far would you be willing to go to get published: agents/pub houses only, indie route or Full Fathom Five?

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3 responses

  1. Cid

    I’m jealous of my toys. I don’t want to share them, I don’t want other people to play with them or say that my stories are theirs. I would rather go through a long stretch of querying and learning the professional market than sell myself short as someone elses workhorse.

    February 13, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    • Alice

      Agree. It’s hard for me to imagine someone being so desperate for publication that they would willingly sign away their rights like that. It’s a shame.

      February 13, 2011 at 7:47 pm

  2. Personally, as a published author, I would break the legs of any arse who tried to steal my work. I’ve had enough problems with publishers trying to grab everything and pay nothing already. This, though, is almost unbelievable. Truly shocking to see that “New Grub Street” is still alive and kicking. George Gissing would be miserable to think it!

    I’d like to kick this arse, though.

    February 17, 2011 at 2:34 pm

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