Penguin seeks return of huge advances from authors
The US arm of Penguin is out to recoup huge advances paid out to authors who failed to deliver.
This week, the New York publisher filed lawsuits against several prominent writers who received hefty contractual advances.
"Prozac Nation" author Elizabeth Wurtzel, signed a $100,000 deal in 2003 to write "a book for teenagers to help them cope with depression." Penguin wants Wurtzel to return her $33,000 advance (and at least $7,500 in interest).
Blogger Ana Marie Cox, who signed in 2006 to author a "humorous examination of the next generation of political activists," is being ordered to cough up for her $81,250 advance (and at least $50,000 in interest). Her Penguin contract totaled $325,000.
Rebecca Mead, a staff writer at The New Yorker, owes $20,000 (and at least $2,000 in interest) following a $50,000 deal in 2003 for "a collection of the author’s journalism."
Holocaust survivor Herman Rosenblat was signed for $40,000 in 2008 to describe how he "survived a concentration camp because of a young girl who snuck him food. 17 years later the two met on a blind date and have been together ever since, married 50 years." While Rosenblat’s story was hailed by Oprah Winfrey as the "single greatest love story" she had told on the air, it turned out to be a fabrication. Penguin wants him to repay a $30,000 advance (and at least $10,000 in interest).
"Hip-Hop Minister" Conrad Tillard signed an $85,000 Penguin contract in 2005 for a memoir about his "epic journey from the Ivy League to the Nation of Islam," and his subsequent falling out with Louis Farrakhan. Penguin wants at least $38,000 repaid.
British journalist and One Show presenter Lucy Siegle pocketed a $35,000 advance for a book called “To Die For,” which would tell the “real story behind the clothes we wear.” She failed to deliver a manuscript by 2009, which is when they killed her deal. The book was released last year by HarperCollins, but Siegle still never returned Penguin’s advance. Penguin wants a total of $42,000 from her.
Source: The Smoking Gun