Author Terminated By Penguin Over Contract Breach Picked Up By Amazon
Kiana Davenport signed a publishing contract with Penguin for her novel, The Spy Lover. While waiting for the book to come out, Davenport self-published a collection of stories at Amazon. She informed her agent and Penguin of the book's publication--but that didn't stop Penguin from terminating her contract after the collection was released.
She recounts the experience in a really interesting essay up at The Huffington Post:
Nonetheless, Penguin contended that I had materially breached the publishing agreement with them. That I had 'violated the next work presentation,' the 'no-compete provision,' and the option clause in our agreement. Based on my 'material breach' they terminated the agreement and demanded payment of the $20,000 partial advance paid to date for the work. Until then, they were holding my manuscript hostage.
The Author's Guild took up her case, but they didn't have the resources to fight Penguin, so Davenport paid back the $20,000 partial advance. A few other publishers offered to pick up the book, but she declined because they were "still offering the same outmoded book contracts, 15-page theses written in micro-script that befuddled authors and kept us ignorant and infantile."
Instead, she signed with Amazon's Thomas & Mercer imprint. While she expresses some disappointment at not getting into bookstores, she's happy to be with a publisher offering a clear contract, higher royalty rates and more flexibility.
This is sort of the new paradigm of the publishing industry in microcosm--a Big Six publisher does something to make an author unhappy and Amazon swoops in to save the day. Yes, Davenport violated her contract, but if she did inform Penguin about the collection of stories, why didn't they object before it was published?
Who's in the right? What do you think?
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