Did I read that right?

As I was looking through review blogs, I saw a--I'm not sure what to call it. An unreview? An anti-review? A statement noting that the blog author would never review books from James Frey's Full Fathom Five publishing house because Frey treats the writers so poorly.

And I was like, huh? People are willing to work for James Frey?

Let's review what we know about Frey: He lies. A lot. He lied to make money. He also has a history of substance abuse.

*Deep sigh.*

Dear young writers,

Did you know that not everyone can write? It's true--I worked for an educational publisher, and we hired respected academics to write our books, and most of them, despite their brilliance in their subject matter, could not put two words together to save their lives!

Not everyone can write. Being able to write is a skill that is worth something.

You need to recognize the value of your skill, and not work for any old compulsive liar who comes along. Do you know that I've been freelancing, off and on, for over a decade? Guess how many times I've had to threaten to sue people to get paid, or go to court to collect a paycheck, or just been stiffed?

Zero times. Zero. The most I ever had to do was a quick e-mail to an editor saying, "Have you seen my check? It hasn't arrived yet."

This is not the norm in the industry!

How did I accomplish it? I was careful who I worked for. The minute complaints started wafting through the air that so-and-so was stiffing writers (and nowadays, they'd waft through the Internet, making them easy to find no matter where you are), I put them on my own personal Do Not Call list. If I was thinking of working for someplace, I'd ask around--have you worked for these guys? what are they like? If the answer was anything but "Great!"--Do Not Call. I did not work for dodgy start-ups. I did not work for people who promised glory but no cash.

And I was able to make a living at it. When I say "make a living," I mean a decent apartment, decent food, decent clothes, no calls from bill collectors, stellar credit. I was not a bohemian. I did not squat and go without heat like the characters in Rent.

I have worked for a cokehead--a regular 9-to-5 job that ended when he destroyed his own company. Never again. I never ever worked for anyone who I knew for sure, because it's a matter of public record, was a dishonest person. Because I am not stupid, and you should not be either: The man willing to lie repeatedly on Oprah will not think twice about misleading and deceiving you.

Best of luck!