One-Minute Book Reviews

October 16, 2008

Late Night With Jan Harayda – Three Books That Bombed at Bookstores – ‘Thirteen Moons’ and Other ‘Legendary Flops’

Most books don’t earn back their advances, but some go deeper into the tank than others. Boris Kachka listed three notorious flops in a recent survey of the state of the publishing industry for New York: Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games (HarperCollins, 2007), Charlies Frazier’s Thirteen Moons (Random House, 2008) and James Frey’s Bright Shiny Morning (HarperCollins. Kachka suggests why these novels bombed at

Thirteen Moons earned an honorable mention in the 2007 Delete Key Awards competition for the year’s worst writing in books for reasons suggested by its review

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.


  1. That info on Frazier’s book is amazing. 5.5 million dollars, down the tubes . . . Ouch!

    Comment by tysdaddy — October 16, 2008 @ 10:48 pm | Reply

  2. You have wonder what the publisher was thinking. This was a textbook case of an overrated first novel (“Cold Mountain”) that set up for a giantic sophomore slump … except that slump seems way too mild a word for it, doesn’t it?

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — October 16, 2008 @ 11:10 pm | Reply

  3. What an expensive gamble! I could maybe see taking a chance with Thirteen Moons because Cold Mountain was a word-of-mouth hit, and the publishers may have thought that the audience would be built-in. Of course, it was 10 years ago that people read Cold Mountain. Taking a chance on James Frey I can’t see at all. These authors aren’t contractually obligated to give back their advances to their publishers, are they? For their sakes, I hope not!

    Comment by Val Kovalin — October 17, 2008 @ 1:48 pm | Reply

  4. Give back advances? Oh, no. Authors have to do that only if they don’t meet the terms of their contracts — for example, by not turning in the book — and sometimes there’s leeway even there.

    Many authors miss the contractual deadlines for their books by years but don’t have to pay back their advances because their publishers have faith that the books will eventually arrive.

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — October 17, 2008 @ 4:03 pm | Reply

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