James Frey and Co-Writer Sell Series to HarperCollins

July 7, 2009


A week after submitting a young adult novel anonymously to editors, James Frey, the notorious author of “A Million Little Pieces,” and a writing partner, Jobie Hughes, have sold North American rights to “I Am Number Four” to HarperCollins Children’s Books.

Harper, another imprint of HarperCollins, published Mr. Frey’s adult novel, “Bright Shiny Morning,” last year.

Eric Simonoff, a literary agent with William Morris Endeavor who represented Mr. Frey and Mr. Hughes in the deal, said the pair had also sold three subsequent books in a planned series.

Mr. Frey, who was caught embellishing details in “A Million Little Pieces,” his memoir of drug addiction and recovery, conceived the idea of what is proposed as a six-book series. Mr. Hughes, a recent graduate of the creative writing program at Columbia, is writing most of the text.

Last week, DreamWorks Studios bought film rights to the series, with Michael Bay, the director of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” signed on to produce and possibly direct the first installment.

Mr. Simonoff originally pitched the book as a collaboration between an unnamed New York Times best-selling author and an up-and-coming writer. He sent the manuscript of the first book in the series, about a group of alien teenagers who hide on earth after their planet is attacked by hostile invaders, to several editors at large New York publishing houses last week.

Many of them did not know that Mr. Frey was one of the authors until news of his identity was revealed in press reports last week.

Two years ago, Harper reportedly bought “Bright Shiny Morning,” Mr. Frey’s novel about Los Angeles, for $1 million. A source familiar with the deal for “I Am Number Four” said HarperCollins paid less than seven figures for the four books.

According to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 70 percent of retail sales, “Bright Shiny Morning,” which was published in hardcover last year, has sold 71,000 copies in hardcover and 10,000 in paperback.

Mr. Frey did not return calls seeking comment. Press representatives for HarperCollins did not return calls or respond to e-mail messages.


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