Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 9, 2012

Penquin Trying to Recover Advances

Thought this was interesting:

The Smoking Gun highlights multiple lawsuits filed recently by Penguin to recover advances from authors who the publisher says never delivered their manuscripts. The suits look to recover advances and interest from:

New Yorker staff writer Rebecca Mead
$20,000, for a 2003 deal to collect her journalism
[Mead did have another announced 2003 deal, for the book about “the selling of the American Wedding” that Penguin Press did publish in 2007]

Elizabeth Wurtzel
$33,000 (and at least $7,500 in interest), for a book to help teenagers cope with depression

Former “Wonkette” blogger Ana Marie Cox $81,250 (and at least $50,000 in interest), for a 2006 contract promising a “humorous examination of the next generation of political activists”
[This was a follow-up after Riverhead published her debut novel]

Conrad Tillard
$38,000 for a 2005 memoir deal about his “journey from the Ivy League to the Nation of Islam” and break with Louis Farrakhan
[Penguin’s Tarcher imprint was the second would-be buyer of this book; HarperCollins announced a deal for it in 2003, with Karen Hunter as co-author. The version Tarcher bought in 2005 had Playthell Benjamin as co-writer]

In a league by itself, they are also seeking $30,000 (and at least $10,000) from disgraced Holocaust fabricator Herman Rosenblat.

Trident Media Group CEO Robert Gottlieb says in a posted comment, “If Penguin did this to one of Trident’s authors we could cut them out of all our submissions.”

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Wait a minute…am I understanding that right? If Penguin sued for an advance from a Trident Group’s author who failed to do the work the advance paid for, then Trident would no longer submit to Penguin? Just want to know if I’m getting that point correctly.


    • Tracey and Donna,

      There has to be more to this story.



      • I would hope so lol It doesn’t seem right IF the authors didn’t produce what was expected. Granted, times are tough, but it’s hard to imagine Penguin all-of-a-sudden taking this approach ’cause they weren’t sure about the marketability. I haven’t been keeping up with my Publisher’s Lunches, but I’m thinking it may get more fleshed out!


  2. Yeah, I’m also trying to figure that one out. You get an advance for a book. You don’t deliver it. The publisher asks for their money back. You get mad. Huh?


  3. Hmm, this is interesting. I read on another page that the Trident guy is claiming authors may have delivered manuscripts, but Penguin just didn’t like them. Seems there’s not enough information available. If Penguin just got cold feet about the marketability of the projects, they are in the wrong. If an author didn’t deliver as agreed (or was a fraud), Penguin is right to ask for repayment of the advance. I’m interested in finding out the details when they are available!


    • Shonna,

      Yes, we need more details. I can’t imagine that Trident would be okay with one of their authors not delivering the manuscript contracted, so it makes you wonder what is going on.



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