Saturday, March 04, 2006

If a Book Sells, but the Publisher is Bankrupt....

If a tree falls in the forest but nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound? I believe, technically, the answer is yes, but the question, If your book sells, but your publisher is in bankruptcy will you get royalties? is a more complex issue.

This, unfortunately, is the situation facing one of my clients, Peter Holt, author of the terrific new thriller, CHROMOSOME 8. Published just before Christmas (yes, I am very behind on my blogging), this book is firmly in the tradition of Clive Cussler and sure to appeal to fans of his works and, say, Michael Crichton’s. But ibooks, the publisher of this book, just declared bankruptcy and so one has to wonder if there will ever be royalties received, not to mention whether or not their distributor, Publishers Group West, will continue to fulfill orders.

Let’s say they will. What then? Any money received will go pay off the creditors right? And while authors can be creditors, they are unlikely to be the first in line for moneys received, I expect. If there’s a bankruptcy lawyer out there willing to comment, that would be appreciated.

In the meantime, though, you might want to hurry and
buy up all the copies of CHROMOSOME 8 you can find, because I think this author is someone with a future. Given the right circumstances (the sudden death of Clive Cussler, perhaps), he could rise to best-sellerdom.

In the meantime, though, I'll be trying to figure out if the bankruptcy clause in the contract is actually valid and does that mean the rights are already the author's again? And I'll also be trying to figure out if there's stock somewhere and whether or not PGW is still shipping copies.

Ah, the glamorous life of a literary agent!


1 comment:

Hugh Sider, San Jose, CA said...

My sympathies for your author. A very similar thing happened at my first game job - the company went bankrupt as soon as Harpoon 2 went out the door, taking our royalty agreements, vacation pay, and six weeks' back pay with them.

I do read that type of novel, so please let us know how it turns out. I'm going to wait to buy it until I know the author is getting paid.

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