Writers usually have a pretty difficult time getting picked up by publishers, and when they finally a partner, it’s not always a perfect relationship. Hawaiian author Kiana Davenport was recently released from her relationship with Riverhead publishers, a subset of Penguin, after they discovered another book of hers was being published elsewhere.
Riverhead was going to publish Davenport’s novel originally titled The Chinese Soldier’s Daughter until they found a collection of short stories available through Amazon’s self-publishing program. Riverhead and Penguin cancelled the contract, even though they had rejected Davenport’s collection years before, and are seeking to reclaim the $20,000 advance they paid for her new book.
Penguin and Riverhead argue that they have invested in the author’s career and their involvement in her writing goes into her career’s future, not just the book that is currently under contract. Publishing other works through another company could take a way form the reception of the book she has with them.
Davenport’s lawyer disagrees, saying that since they rejected the collection previously and another upcoming book she’s working on, Penguin no longer has an exclusive right to her works. A non-compete clause would typically forbid an author to seek publishing with a different company, but because Davenport’s book was rejected, it allowed her to take her work elsewhere.
Amazon will publish her book, retitled The Spy Lover through the same publishing technology as the collection.
Navigating a non-compete agreement can be a difficult situation, but an experienced New York non-compete lawyer can help. If you have questions about your future career and what a business contract means to you, contact the Law Offices of Jonathan M. Cooper for a free consultation.