Inside Full Fathom Five, James Frey's young-adult-novel assembly line — New York Magazine

New York Magazine says: "Writer Suzanne Mozes explains what it was like working for James Frey's Full Fathom Five, where, in the hopes of scoring another Twilight, Frey had set up a young-adult-novel assembly line of low-paid young writers with little job security. Mozes, ultimately kicked off the line, offers her account of Frey's experiment:

Frey emphasized that this was collaboration — not my own project — and that he needed writers who will listen to him. He gave as an example a King Arthur adaptation he was working on with another writer. That author had listened to his criticism and rewritten it in a different voice; because the author was receptive, Frey was positive the book would sell, and big. Another project, a Gossip Girl–like series he had worked on with two writers employed at Star magazine, he said had gone south. The writers hadn't made his requested character changes, so Frey had recently fired them.

"He reintroduced the idea that he was modeling his company on Damien Hirst's art factory, a warehouse in which a reported 120 employees work to create fine art signed by Hirst. He considered Full Fathom Five an improvement on the way traditional book packagers like Alloy work. Generally, a book packager conceives an idea, hires writers to generate the content, and sells the package to a publishing house, much like a film-production company selling a project to a studio. The book packager's writer will sometimes share in the revenue but usually just take a standard fee, to the tune of $10,000. Frey seemed to think that writers who had a bigger share in the profits would deliver better books…

…"So, worst-case scenario, what happens if you can't sell my book?" I asked. Frey walked me over to the window and pointed to a building across the street where former HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman had started an e-book company, OpenRoad Integrated Media. "She told me she'll buy whatever we can't sell elsewhere," I remember him saying.

Frey and Almon told me they would send me a contract but warned me that I shouldn't bother trying to negotiate. They weren't acceding to other writers' requests and wouldn't accede to mine.

Inside Full Fathom Five, James Frey's young-adult-novel assembly line — New York Magazine (Photo-illustration by Gluekit)