The Man of Letters as a Man of Business eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 45 pages of information about The Man of Letters as a Man of Business.
must be very good to be accepted, and when accepted he may wait long before he is printed.  The pressure is so great in these avenues to the public favor that one, two, three years, are no uncommon periods of delay.  If the young writer has not the patience for this, or has a soul above cooling his heels in the courts of fame, or must do his best to earn something at once, the book is his immediate hope.  How slight a hope the book is I have tried to hint already, but if a book is vulgar enough in sentiment, and crude enough in taste, and flashy enough in incident, or, better or worse still, if it is a bit hot in the mouth, and promises impropriety if not indecency, there is a very fair chance of its success; I do not mean success with a self-respecting publisher, but with the public, which does not personally put its name to it, and is not openly smirched by it.  I will not talk of that kind of book, however, but of the book which the young author has written out of an unspoiled heart and an untainted mind, such as most young men and women write; and I will suppose that it has found a publisher.  It is human nature, as competition has deformed human nature, for the publisher to wish the author to take all the risks, and he possibly proposes that the author shall publish it at his own expense, and let him have a percentage of the retail price for managing it.  If not that, he proposes that the author shall pay for the stereotype plates, and take fifteen per cent. of the price of the book; or if this will not go, if the author cannot, rather than will not, do it (he is commonly only too glad to do any thing he can), then the publisher offers him ten per cent. of the retail price after the first thousand copies have been sold.  But if he fully believes in the book, he will give ten per cent. from the first copy sold, and pay all the costs of publication himself.  The book is to be retailed for a dollar and a half, and the publisher is not displeased with a new book that sells fifteen hundred copies.  Whether the author has as much reason to be pleased is a question, but if the book does not sell more he has only himself to blame, and had better pocket in silence the two hundred and twenty-five dollars he gets for it, and bless his publisher, and try to find work somewhere at five dollars a week.  The publisher has not made any more, if quite as much as the author, and until a book has sold two thousand copies the division is fair enough.  After that, the heavier expenses of manufacturing have been defrayed and the book goes on advertising itself; there is merely the cost of paper, printing, binding, and marketing to be met, and the arrangement becomes fairer and fairer for the publisher.  The author has no right to complain of this, in the case of his first book, which he is only too grateful to get accepted at all.  If it succeeds, he has himself to blame for making the same arrangement for his second or third; it is his fault, or else it is his necessity, which is practically the same thing.  It will be business for the publisher to take advantage of his necessity quite the same as if it were his fault; but I do not say that he will always do so; I believe he will very often not do so.

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The Man of Letters as a Man of Business from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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