Failed to Deliver Your Book? Penguin Wants its Advance Back

In What's the Buzz by Dennis Abrams

By Publishing Perspectives

The Smoking Gun reports that the Penguin Group has filed lawsuits against several well-known writers, claiming that they “failed to deliver books for which they received hefty contractual advances.”

The authors Penguin is seeking payments from include Prozac Nation author Elizabeth Wurtzel ($33,000 advance with at least $7,500 in interest), blogger Ana Marie Cox ($81,250 advance with at least $50,000 in interest), New Yorker staff writer Rebecca Mead ($20,000 advance with at least $2,000 in interest), “Hip Hop Minister” Conrad Tillard ($38,000 in repayments), and holocaust survivor Herman Rosenblat ($30,000 advance with at least $10,000 in interest).

Literary blogger Edward Champion, who has the entire list of defendants here, asked in a tweet, “Did Penguin go after authors to recoup money because of the Marilyn Ducksworth age discrimination suit? Why did Penguin wait until NOW to go after advance?  Has Ducksworth been settled?  And are authors having to pay up for discrimination?” (The total amount from all twelve suits is $411,800 in advances and $129,000 in interest, for a grand total of $540,800.)

Robert Gottlieb, the chairman of Trident Media Group, condemned Penguin’s action, saying:

“Penguin this is wrong headed. Authors beware. Books are rejected for reasons other than editorially and publishers than want their money back. Publishers want to reject manuscripts for any reason after an author has put time and effort into writing them all the while paying their bills. Another reason to have strong representation. If Penguin did this to one of Trident’s authors we could cut them out of all our submissions.”

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.