How James Frey Benefits from MFA Programs' Willingness to Sell Out Their Students
The New York Magazine article
about the James Frey atelier cum literary sweatshop has performed a valuable service by highlighting not just the desperation of MFA students to get profitably published, but the willingness of MFA programs to let their students be exploited. Frey apparently decided to bypass the whole “1,000 monkeys working on 1,000 typewriters” plan in favor of an even cheaper and more tractable workforce: MFA students and graduates willing to write entire young adult novels for a $250 advance, 30-40% of the net (meaning, after whatever deductions Frey decides to take) after the book is sold, and full legal liability for the work but not copyright ownership. And that's all just for starters: Frey's contract also allows him to co-opt both the writer's pseudonym AND real name, and block any future work the writer might take on if Frey deems it in conflict.