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Old 09-25-2012, 07:40 PM   #1
Daithi
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Penguin sues authors to get advances back after non-delivery of manuscript

There is an article on The Smoking Gun (linked by the DrudgeReport) stating that Penguin is suing some of its authors who received big advances but haven't followed through on writing the books they were contracted to write.

I wonder if the authors are truly despicable individuals who took the money and didn't write the books, or if there is more to it. Could it be that the authors have written manuscripts and submitted them to Penguin only to have Penguin reject the manuscripts? Maybe Penguin just doesn't want to go through with some of these projects? I have no idea, but it would be nice to hear the other side.



Last edited by Daithi; 09-25-2012 at 07:43 PM. Reason: grammar blowed
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Old 09-25-2012, 07:47 PM   #2
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It is most likely not in an authors best interest to not create a book after being paid for it, but it is certainly possible that a book had been delivered. Perhaps it was 300 pages of meaningless garbage for which the author was advanced 10,000 dollars, it happens all the time i.e most bestsellers.

At any rate, a book is a book.
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Old 09-25-2012, 11:03 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Daithi View Post
There is an article on The Smoking Gun (linked by the DrudgeReport) stating that Penguin is suing some of its authors who received big advances but haven't followed through on writing the books they were contracted to write.

I wonder if the authors are truly despicable individuals who took the money and didn't write the books, or if there is more to it. Could it be that the authors have written manuscripts and submitted them to Penguin only to have Penguin reject the manuscripts? Maybe Penguin just doesn't want to go through with some of these projects? I have no idea, but it would be nice to hear the other side.


The article specifically says that the authors in question did not deliver the manuscripts; it does not say that Penguin got the manuscripts and rejected them for some reason.
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Old 09-26-2012, 01:53 AM   #4
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I have no experience but I always imagined that advances were paid in increments, based on the author providing material, outlines, schedules, chapters, re-writes etc.
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Old 09-26-2012, 02:25 AM   #5
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I have no experience but I always imagined that advances were paid in increments, based on the author providing material, outlines, schedules, chapters, re-writes etc.
I would have thought so too. Kind of like building a house. You pay the builder in installments at certain points. Say at thirds.
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Old 09-26-2012, 04:32 AM   #6
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I can only speak for the UK. Here the standard contract will give an author 25 per cent of the agreed advance against royalties on contract signature, 25 per cent on delivery of a manuscript, 25 per cent on hardback publication and 25 per cent on paperback publication.
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Old 09-26-2012, 08:42 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Catlady View Post
The article specifically says that the authors in question did not deliver the manuscripts; it does not say that Penguin got the manuscripts and rejected them for some reason.
Take it down a notch there catlady. My point was that we're just hearing one side of the story.
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Old 09-26-2012, 09:41 AM   #8
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I have just edited the thread title. I thought this was astonishing news, of a publisher trying to claw back an over-generous advance after a book was published, which would be a major story.

A publishing wanting to get back the money it had paid for a book when no book appears is business as usual.
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Old 09-26-2012, 09:48 AM   #9
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Absolutely. If you pay for a product (the manuscript) and don't receive the goods you've paid for, then naturally you're entitled to get your money back.
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Old 09-26-2012, 11:14 AM   #10
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Perhaps they should think more carefully before they give advances in the first place.
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Old 09-26-2012, 12:02 PM   #11
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Perhaps they should think more carefully before they give advances in the first place.
perhaps penguin mistake
oversight failed!
similar rogue trader at bank
first fire employee
second attempt recovery of money
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Old 09-26-2012, 01:01 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Daithi View Post
I wonder if the authors are truly despicable individuals who took the money and didn't write the books, or if there is more to it. Could it be that the authors have written manuscripts and submitted them to Penguin only to have Penguin reject the manuscripts? Maybe Penguin just doesn't want to go through with some of these projects? I have no idea, but it would be nice to hear the other side.
It's a lawsuit, so we will eventually hear the other side.

But I think it's too speculative to immediately suggest that Penguin is lying in their court filings since there are severe penalties for doing so.
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Old 09-26-2012, 01:07 PM   #13
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If no book was provided, fair enough. Wonder how the contract terms would deal with non acceptance of a manuscript though.

Clearly a publisher would want to be able to reject a manuscript of pure gibberish should an author try to pull a fast one and in that case, I'd hope they'd get the advance back too, but I'm not sure how they could work that into the terms without it giving them a get out of publishing free card which would be unfair to genuine authors.

e.g what if the work is just utter garbage but the author has actually done the work and produced. Or, the work is decent but the publisher decides it's not good enough to publish and not worth funding a rewrite (assuming author is unwilling to rewrite for free). Would the publisher just write off the first instalment and swear never to work with that author again? Or is it the norm for contract terms to allow claw back of all advances if the publisher doesn't accept the submission (which would seem highly unfair to me)

Last edited by JoeD; 09-26-2012 at 01:10 PM.
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Old 09-26-2012, 03:47 PM   #14
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Apparently it doesn't happen that often, because if the publisher paid a sizable advance, they would get a script doctor in to get the manuscript in a publishable condition. Here was one high-profile case where it did happen: Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, authors of the Nanny Diaries, had a contract and advance with Random House and when they received the manuscript, Random House said no.

http://observer.com/2004/02/why-naug...-random-house/

I don't know what happened to any part of the advance that was paid out, but I never heard of a lawsuit, so I'm guessing they wrote it off. These two authors did go on to publish more books, but not with Random House.

eP
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Old 09-26-2012, 03:48 PM   #15
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Also don't forget that a big advance happens for two reasons: 1. the publisher has already seen the manuscript and is hot for it, or 2. the author is a well-known name.
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