Hachette sues Seth Grahame-Smith

Brian G Turner

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Seth Grahame-Smith, author of Pride and Prejudice with Zombies, and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, is being sued by his publisher.

Apparently, Hatchette don't like the book he submitted for 2016 - so now they can avoid paying him $1.5 million, and claw back another $500k advance through the courts.

Locus Online News » Hachette Sues Seth Grahame-Smith

Meanwhile, Kathryn Rusch takes the contract apart here, and reveals just how weighted it was against the author's interests:
Business Musings: A Real Book Contract (Contracts/Dealbreakers) – Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Who said million-dollar advances are a good thing? :)
 
But from the sound of that blog Hachette were going to deny he had produced the goods no matter what he produced. I had the impression that Rusch was saying that the niche Grahame-Smith had plumbed was very short lived and Hachette realised they were never going to make the advance back on the second book and so were actively looking for a wriggle out.

However more to the point for anyone thinking of going down the traditional publishing route are all those clauses Rusch has picked out like the one that allows the publishers to do nothing (read spend nothing) to promote the work. Isn't that one of the key reasons to go down the traditional route; to have a professional organisation doing all the promotion for you?
 
Who said million-dollar advances are a good thing? :)

Probably only a good thing if you're someone like Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, or Lee Child whereby your work is very distinctive, transcends trends, has an extremely large and loyal audience, and basically makes oodles of money...
 
"Three years after the original due date." THREE YEARS!!!!!! A wriggle out??? Seriously? Hachette is the big bad ogre and Grahame-Smith hard done to?? Hachette could have dumped him when the original due date came and went (three years ago in case you missed that....) Hachette paid him a bucket-load of money and he didn't produce on time. After three years past the due date for that bucketload of money Hachette gave him another 6 months, and he rushed something out that Hachette had every right to reject if it wasn't good enough (read - to get back their bucketload of advance on).

Somehow, because three and a half years past his due date Hachette have had enough, it's all their fault???? Nobody would be complaining if at any time past the due (agreed between both parties) date Hachette asked for the advance back, would they? What's the point in agreeing a date and then failing spectacularly - I still can't believe it was three years, that is bog-swaggling incredible, and down to Grahame-Smith. He must be the stupidest writer on the planet...
 
"Three years after the original due date." THREE YEARS!!!!!! A wriggle out??? Seriously? Hachette is the big bad ogre and Grahame-Smith hard done to?? Hachette could have dumped him when the original due date came and went (three years ago in case you missed that....) Hachette paid him a bucket-load of money and he didn't produce on time. After three years past the due date for that bucketload of money Hachette gave him another 6 months, and he rushed something out that Hachette had every right to reject if it wasn't good enough (read - to get back their bucketload of advance on).

Somehow, because three and a half years past his due date Hachette have had enough, it's all their fault???? Nobody would be complaining if at any time past the due (agreed between both parties) date Hachette asked for the advance back, would they? What's the point in agreeing a date and then failing spectacularly - I still can't believe it was three years, that is bog-swaggling incredible, and down to Grahame-Smith. He must be the stupidest writer on the planet...

Wonder how GRRM's publishers feel with the constant dragging of feet on his part...
 
Sounds like the publisher was kinda weaselly, and it was a bad contract. But I have to agree that with a flash-in-the-pan the whole Pride and Prejudice with Zombies fad was, you have to strike while the iron is hot. Maybe he would have still been sued if he met his deadlines, maybe not. And it's not as though these are 800 page epics with a cast of hundreds. If you can't manage a light 300 pages satirical horror novel when you have two years to write it, and enough money banked so you don't need a day job, you haven't shown much professionalism.

Wonder how GRRM's publishers feel with the constant dragging of feet on his part...

As long as his back catalogue is making them buckets of money, I doubt they're too stressed. I do think that with every passing year the number of copies the next book will sell diminishes substantially. And any book published once the TV show has finished will do dramatically worse. But really, it seems once an author gets as big as Martin, the publishers treat them like royalty.
 
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Wonder how GRRM's publishers feel with the constant dragging of feet on his part...


ha ha... wonder what advance he got?

Since this thread is talking about contracts (and pointing out apparent deficiencies in a biggee) it does bear asking: where the heck was his agent? He does have one, doesn't he? This from Sheila Crowley, senior agent at Curtis Brown, in an interview:

So firstly, can you tell us what exactly is a literary agent?

The role of a Literary Agent has many strands. We are the business manager for our Author Clients. This involves brokering deals for their books, negotiating the best contracts, working closely with the publisher and author on the publishing strategy, advising authors on their brand position as that evolves. We are also there to listen and advise authors. It would be nice to think everything is plain sailing for authors but sometimes there are bumps along the road.

Interview is here: A DAY IN THE LIFE OF…. Sheila Crowley
 
If you read that Rusch article one of her specific complaints about the contract is that the clauses seem to benefit publisher and agent far more than author. So sounds like the agent was busy feathering his/her own nest.

I do agree that if you miss your deadline so badly you've got it coming. Though I must admit I've always thought deadlines to be rather a dangerous thing when dealing with something creative like writing, painting, sculpting etc. But then, as I am no good at any of those things, I can't really talk from experience.
 
it does bear asking: where the heck was his agent?

That is indeed the question. It's not so much that Grahame-Smith is being sued by his publisher, as much as that his contract allowed it, along with a whole load of other unfavourable clauses.

Rusch names William Morris as the agent - which, if I've got it right, is an absolutely huge multimedia Hollywood agency: http://www.bizjournals.com/losangel...-gets-the-big-bucks-for-its-clients-like.html

I also wonder how much the Joan Collins court case will play into this, which she won against Random House? Publishers, Joan Collins And That Fine Print
 
However more to the point for anyone thinking of going down the traditional publishing route are all those clauses Rusch has picked out like the one that allows the publishers to do nothing (read spend nothing) to promote the work. Isn't that one of the key reasons to go down the traditional route; to have a professional organisation doing all the promotion for you?

Nope, nope and nope. They have no obligation, whatsoever, to promote anything for you.
 
Ok, I haven't read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but there's this line in the article, about the new work that they didn't like: "...largely an appropriation of a 120-year-old public domain work...." Err... isn't that pretty much what you get with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?

ETA: oh, I see, looking at the blog, that Rusch already covered that. :)
 
"...largely an appropriation of a 120-year-old public domain work...." Err... isn't that pretty much what you get with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?

Yes, but this new book was also (they say) on a subject they had not approved, so perhaps not even the book they had contracted for.

The publisher is not always the bad guy, you know.
 
Oh, no, I didn't figure they were -- they seemed quite patient, letting him skate for three years and then allowing even more extra time. But it cracked me up that they said it was largely a 120-year-old public-domain story. And they were expecting fresh material from the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies guy? :D
 
It's largely assumed, I think, that a seven figure advance must be a good thing. I'd think the opposite, to be honest. I mean, you so rarely hear of lottery winners whose lives have been made totally happy by their massive wins…

Definitely worth underlining. A big advance means the pressure of very high expectations - and the failure to live up to them is reportedly an easy way to kill a writing career.
 
Definitely worth underlining. A big advance means the pressure of very high expectations - and the failure to live up to them is reportedly an easy way to kill a writing career.

Absolutely, it's always better to exceed expectations, wherever you publish. But don't meet them for a big publisher and you're in trouble.
 

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