I never grasped the whole zombie-vampire thing. I don’t know why sucky dead creatures are so attractive or why they overpopulate the entertainment world. About 87 percent of TV shows seem to be about zombies or vampires and some TV commercials use zombies as spokesthings…or the antithesis of spokesthings, I’m not sure which.
I don’t remember what an ad is selling if it has zombies in it. For the advertiser, this is probably not a good thing. Although it’s also clear that if you want to sell something to someone who isn’t me, stick the word “zombie” or “vampire” into it and voila. Or voila! if it really sells a lot.
So I saw this news from Publisher’s Lunch and hope arose in my indisputably human breast. Is it possible this breach of contract lawsuit heralds the end of the zombie-vampire business?
Hachette Book Group is suing Seth Grahame-Smith, author of the bestselling novels Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Pride and Prejudice & Zombies, and his company Baby Gorilla Inc. for breach of contract. In the complaint, filed in New York federal court on August 26 and first reported on by the Hollywood Reporter, HBG alleges Smith turned in an unacceptable manuscript last June more than 3 years after its initial due date — and only after the publisher moved to terminate the contract.
Just before Grand Central published Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, in December 2010 they signed with Smith for two additional books for a total advance of $4 million. One million dollars was paid on signing — partitioned equally between the two books — with the rest due in $500,000 increments upon delivery of the two manuscripts, as well as on hardcover and paperback publication of the books. The first book was to be “a sequel to or spinoff of” Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The second “would be on a topic to be determined by the author subject to [Hachette’s] written approval.”
The first book under that deal was published in 2015 as The Last American Vampire. (The book failed to perform anywhere near expectations; Nielsen Bookscan has recorded total hardcover sales of just under 16,000 copies.) Hachette noted in the complaint that the delivery date for the second book was extended twice, to April 1, 2016. With no manuscript provided, Hachette sent a termination notice on April 20, with a 60-day period to cure.
Smith “purported to deliver to Hachette the manuscript for Book #2” on June 6, but they say in the suit that it “is not the manuscript [he] promised to deliver under the agreement.” The publisher asserts that it was “in large part an appropriation of a 120-year-old public-domain work.” As well, they allege, it “materially varies from the agreed-upon word limit and is on a subject Hatchette never approved in writing.” Hachette seeks a jury trial and damages of no less than $500,000 (including interest incurred since June 6.)