But that’s not what happened. His partially-fictionalized memoir has sold nearly 4 million copies. After the scandal, Random House offered refunds to readers, but only about 1500 asked for one. The Anchor paperback edition is #780 on Amazon today.
He has a new publisher, HarperCollins for his novel, Bright Shiny Morning, (how's that for a symbolic starting-over title?) released yesterday. It’s a book that would embarrass most indie and self-publishers.
Entertainment Weekly calls it a “slack, self-indulgent mess,” that lacks a coherent story, and “never achieves narrative momentum.” They give it a D+ and criticize the publisher for lack of editing. The Los Angeles Times calls it “a literary train wreck without even the good grace to be entertaining,” and says the book gives a superficial, lifeless portrayal of Los Angeles.
The writing is characterized by run-on sentences with little regard for punctuation guidelines. Here’s a sample sentence:
“Instead of using his real name he started using the name of his site the more it was printed and repeated the more it was recognized the more people came the more people wrote about him the better stories he got.”
Yet, Frey reportedly got a $1.5 million advance for this novel, which had an initial printing of 350,000. It’s #25 among books on Amazon today. He was the focus of a USA Today cover story yesterday, and appeared on the Today show.
So much for the importance of quality. If this were a self-published book, it would be held up as a horrific example of all that’s wrong with self-publishing. We independent and self-published authors are told and told that our books need to be as good as or better than traditionally-published books, that they must be well-written and carefully edited if they are to have any chance to compete in the marketplace.
Well I’m through listening to the old guard pontificate about the high standards of traditional publishers. I’m thinking I’d sell more books if rather than spending my time rewriting to improve my book, I instead engaged in some hugely scandalous, sleazy behavior that would get me noticed. Then I could ignore all the writing rules, write pap and get a big advance from a traditional publisher.