Authors and Agents: Their Stories. PITTACUS LORE (A cautionary tale)

I thought it would be fun to re-post how some of my favorite authors obtained representation.

This week’s installment is more of a precautionary tale/horror story about the mysterious “Pittacus Lore”, the “author” of the I Am Number Four series.

7747374Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books–but we are real.

Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. We have lived among you without you knowing.

But they know.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They killed them all.

I am Number Four.

I am next.

First, I have to admit that “Pittacus Lore” is not actually a favorite author of mine, however, I’ve read the first four books and am currently reading the fifth. Once I start a series, I usually finish it. But, that said, had I known what I’m about to show you, I would have stopped reading.

I’m going to paraphrase what I’ve read in several places on the internet– this site being the biggest of the sources.

  • Pittacus Lore is not a real person.
  • The pen name Pittacus Lore was created by James Frey who had the original idea for the series, and the first book was diligently executed by Jobie Hughes.
  • Hughes was paid $250 for a four book deal of which he could never claim having authored (or if he did claim it, he’d have to pay James Frey $250,000).
  • Hughes was promised something like 40% of profits from I Am Number Four (book and film), but would never be able to see the original numbers or the fees deducted from the total before being paid out.
  • James Frey has his own business where he recruits writers, convinces them to sign these terrible contracts, and uses I Am Number Four’s success as bait. He also wrote a memoir that was later revealed to be fake, which caused his agent to part ways with him because the trust had been lost.

Jobie Hughes was basically a ghost writer minus the rights. He got out of the contract (or was fired for not delivering what James Frey wanted) after the first book, and the rest have supposedly been written by someone in Los Angeles that doesn’t fit James Frey’s mold of writers that he recruits for his sketchy Full Fathom Five company (his targets were smart people, most having graduated with a master’s in creative writing from Columbia). Interestingly though, on, if you look up Pittacus Lore, it still says, “Pittacus Lore is the collection pseudonym of James Frey and Jobie Hughes.”

The bottom line here is: Have your contracts reviewed before signing them. A good agent will help with contracts. As I understand it, Jobie Hughes did not have an agent, and saw this as an opportunity to help get his original novel published. However, without being allowed to take any credit for his work on I Am Number Four, it didn’t help. Don’t let this happen to you.

Previous: Authors and Agents: Their Stories. LAINI TAYLOR and ALLY CONDIE


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