Authors remember, when you make a deal with a publisher, you could be making a deal with the devil. (Though I’m not that bad.)
Seth Grahame-Smith, author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is being taken to court by his publisher for breach of contract. Hachette claims that Seth Grahame-Smith breached contract by delivering a manuscript that was “not original to Smith, but instead is in large part an appropriation of a 120-year-old public-domain work”, that it “materially varies from the 80,000-100,000 word limit” agreed on, and that it “is not comparable in style and quality to Smith’s wholly original bestseller Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”.
Two very important parts to deconstruct from this:
First, it sounds like Hachette is saying Seth plagerized, but you can legally plagerize public domain work. It’s public domain and you can modify it and do what you will with it. After all, isn’t that what Seth Grahame-Smith does as a talent anyway? Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was a literary mash-up and it’s what started his career with the publisher.
Second, some publishers can be dicks if you don’t deliver what they want even after you’ve worked with them on prior books.
Seth Grahame-Smith has history with Hachette and has released bestsellers for them. I would really like to know what details Seth broke that would lead to a publisher to sue their own bread and butter. A publisher doesn’t make content, it looks for content, modifies it, and presents it to the world. And Seth had given them manuscripts that were mash-ups and lead to bestsellers.
So what the fuck happened? What the fuck lead to Hachette turning on Seth? Did he deliver something really that far from his other works? If he did, why sue instead of suggesting edits? Or were edits suggested and Seth was like “nope”.