Several Million Little Dollars
If James Frey is still smarting from his public flogging at the hands of Oprah Winfrey, perhaps he will feel some comfort this month when checks for more than $4.3 million show up in his mailbox — royalties on sales in the last three months of last year of his now-discredited memoirs, "A Million Little Pieces" and "My Friend Leonard." And he has earned an additional $1.5 million since he admitted making things up.
Authors generally receive royalty checks twice a year, in March and October. This month's checks to Mr. Frey represent his biggest payday yet because they include the period after Ms. Winfrey chose his first book, "A Million Little Pieces," for her television book club on Sept. 22.
According to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks book sales, consumers bought 1.8 million paperback and hardcover copies of "Pieces" from the time of Ms. Winfrey's recommendation through the end of last year, plus 149,000 hardcover copies of "Leonard," Mr. Frey's second book. BookScan's figures account for 50 percent to 75 percent of total sales, meaning that actual sales of the two books probably exceeded 3.8 million copies. Since then, of course, the money has continued to flow in, although at a slower pace following the Jan. 8 report by The Smoking Gun, an investigative Internet site, saying that Mr. Frey's account of his past conflicted with public and police records. Sales dropped further after Ms. Winfrey castigated Mr. Frey and his publisher on her Jan. 26 show.
Perhaps the accompanying totals will help Mr. Frey weather the recent cancellation by Riverhead Books of its contract for two more books and the stalling of a possible film of "A Million Little Pieces." And already, some publishers have begun to consider offering Mr. Frey a small advance for the rights to publish his next book, a planned novel.