Friday, February 20, 2015

The Partner Who Came In From The Cold

Before E.L. James was a shocking success, she was a self-published author of mommy porn. She turned to The Writer's Coffee Shop to get her bondage fantasy series in front of the reading public. Not much of a story there. Writers use several means to achieve their publishing ends, but it is not often that a book takes off like the Fifty Shades trilogy.

So The Writer's Coffee Shop sold the rights to what was clearly becoming a phenomenon to Random House. It was as much a boon for the indie publisher as it was for the author, one of those unexpected wins in a very difficult game.

Again, not much of a story in the transaction. Rights are sold on a regular basis. The publisher gets a cut, the author gets their royalty, and the new publisher does the promotions to boost sales to get a return on the investment. Random House picked a winner and expects to see continued income now that the first book has been made into a movie which expanded the market of interested women over 25 who did not buy the book the first time around.


The Writer's Coffee Shop was a partnership formed by four people. Being a partnership, all four partners get equal parts. When the publisher sold the Fifty Shades rights to Random House, all four partners were supposed to get one quarter of the money pie.

Partner Jennifer Pedroza did not get her check as expected. Her cohorts, apparently, got a little greedy when the cash cow started giving money by the bucket full.

She took her colleagues to court, to force them to pay up what she was owed. As the case played out, the book sold like fur-lined handcuffs and then the film was released to big box office numbers. Her legal team continued to argue that she was entitled to a portion of all of it, a pot of gold that kept growing.

The court has decided that Ms. Pedroza was played for a fool by her fellow partners. They tricked her into signing an agreement that prevented her from an equal share, giving themselves more. Failure to provide her with all the particulars, and misleading her into signing away her rights, constituted fraud.

Ms. Pedroza won her case and will eventually be given what is owed to her, as soon as a forensic accountant can figure out how much she should have made.

The partnership is clearly over, and it is unlikely that she will ever again speak to anyone connected with The Writer's Coffee Shop again.

Do you think she might invest her windfall in a start up? Having gotten a taste of publishing success, who knows if she doesn't go and start up another independent publisher in the hopes of catching lightning in a bottle yet again.

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