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LARGE ROYALTIES OFTEN RUINOUS Some authors insist upon a royalty of 20 per cent., and, like butterflies that flit from flower to flower, they go from one publisher to another in their efforts to get it, often with the result that they place their books in the hands of a different publisher every time they write a new one, and no one publisher has any particular interest in them because his interest can not be made cumulative. In other words, if a publisher, having launched, with a fair measure of success, one book by a new author, has no guarantee that he will get the second book, or for that matter any other book from the same pen, he loses interest in that author. Authors should foster the good will of their publishers as much as the publishers foster their friendship. Of course, there are occasions where a publisher who has issued a fairly successful book finds it necessary to decline a second book by the same author-perhaps on account of the theme or the moral tone of the work offered. In such a case that author is at liberty to go further afield to place his work; but if he has written a good book, and his first book has paid its expenses, he may rest assured that his publisher will not refuse to print it.
In common fairness to both author and publisher, let us consider for a moment the ratio of
profit of a publisher as compared with that of an author who receives 20 per cent. royalty. In the words of the writer of that very interesting and useful little book entitled “A Publisher's Confession," recently issued, “the retail price of a novel is $1.50. The retail bookseller buys it for about 90 cents. The wholesale bookseller buys it from the publisher for about 80 cents. This 80 cents must pay the cost of manufacturing the book; of advertising it; must pay its share toward the cost of keeping the publisher's establishment going—and this is a large and increasing cost; it must pay the author, and it must leave the publisher himself some small profit. Now if out of this 80 cents, which must be divided for so many purposes, the author receives a royalty of 20 per cent. (30 cents a copy), there is left, of course, only 50 cents to pay all the other items. No other half-dollar in this world has to suffer such a careful and continuous division !"
HOW MANUSCRIPTS ARE READ Authors as a class are not usually informed of the methods followed by publishers in considering the different manuscripts submitted to them for publication. Therefore one may, perhaps, be permitted to say a few words on this subject.
Every reputable publishing house employs a number of readers, whose duty it is to read manuscripts independently the one of the other. These readers are not always staff-workers, but sometimes are literary advisors or experts upon whom the publisher may call at any time for the expression of opinion on the payment of a special honorarium. In the publisher's own office, however, there are usually two or more readers to whom manuscripts are submitted, and on whose judgment the publisher either arrives at a decision or calls for further reports, and submits all the reports received to his associates in business, for the purpose of determining finally whether or not his house shall undertake the publication. At such a meeting the opinions of the men who sell his books for him usually have weight with the publisher. They are practical men, practical in their knowledge of the selling qualities of books. If a traveling salesman is in town his opinion is sought also, and even those of the mail and shipping clerks, whose duties keep them in touch with the popular demand. It is at just such a conference as this that the possible selling qualities of a book are thoroughly considered, and it is seldom that a judgment is faulty that is based upon such points as are brought out there.
In the words of the author of “A Publisher's Confession,” the following is the usual course pursued with a manuscript : "A first reader--a man of all-round general knowledge of books, and he ought to be a man full of hard common sense, common sense being worth more than technical literary knowledge—the first reader examines the manuscript. If it be a shop-worn piece of commonplace work, obviously hopeless, he may not read it from preface to end, but he must say in his written report whether he has read it all. Whether he condemn or approve it, it is examined or read by another reader. If both these condemn it as hopeless, the publisher declines without more ado." Seldom indeed are mistakes made with manuscripts that have been read by two readers, both of whom declare them to be worthless.
ON THE VALUE OF ADVERTISING
Even after a publisher accepts a manuscript all is not plain sailing for him. Many a wellwritten book has fallen flat because it has not caught the public fancy, The author says, naturally: “Advertise and catch it." The publisher may advertise in an endeavor to do so and create a demand, but if the public says "No!” he might as well try to stem the flow of Niagara as to ad
vertise in the hope that he can compel an unwilling public to accept his wares. It is a fallacy to believe that advertising, even tho it be on a broad scale, will assure the success of a book. help a little, but that is about all it can do. Besides, advertising costs money, “big money,'' and unless each advertisement repays its cost by sale, and shows a margin of profit, to advertise is simply to drop money into the ocean.
Authors almost invariably believe that the publisher who spends most money in advertising sells most books. This is far from the case, and the point can not be better illustrated than from practical experience. Some years ago a certain publisher who advertised loudly and widely made it his practise to print daily in the newspapers “We publish a new book every day in the year.” The catch-line was fascinating ; it brought the publisher some authors and many would be authors. But after a few years the business went into the hands of a receiver ; it never recovered from the shock. This publisher was the victim of over advertising.
ADVERTISING THAT HELPS The personal element has much to do with the success of a book, especially if it be a book of fiction. Books sell by being talked about, not