The Project Gutenberg EBook of A Publisher's Confession, by Walter Hines Page

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most
other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions
whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of
the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at  If you are not located in the United States, you'll have
to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this ebook.

Title: A Publisher's Confession

Author: Walter Hines Page

Release Date: June 11, 2017 [EBook #54892]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Charlie Howard and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)


Publisher's logo


Copyright, 1905, by

Published March, 1905


I The Ruinous Policy of Large Royalties 3
II Why “Bad” Novels Succeed and “Good” Ones Fail 27
III Are Authors an Irritable Tribe? 45
IV Has Publishing Become Commercialized? 61
V Has the Unknown Author a Chance? 79
VI The Printer Who Issues Books at the Author’s Expense 99
VII The Advertising of Books Still Experimental 115
VIII The Story of a Book from Author to Reader 131
IX The Present Limits of the Book Market 147
X Plain Words to Authors and Publishers 163


There is expressed in these chapters so much that is practical and of interest to those engaged in the various branches of authorship, book-making and book-selling that the present publishers have availed themselves of the permission of the Boston Transcript, in which they originally appeared, to gather them together in book form.

New York, March, 1905.


A Publisher’s Confession


How it Operates to the Disadvantage of Both Author and Publisher—The Actual Facts and Figures—Authors’ Earnings Greatly Exaggerated by the Press—Books Sell Too Cheaply—What a Fair Price for All Concerned Would Be.

The author of a very popular book, who has written another that will be as popular, wishes me to publish it, so he is kind enough to say; and he came to see me and asked on what terms I would bring it out. In these strenuous times he can dictate his own terms to his publisher; and I happened to know that two houses had made him offers.

4 I confess, since I am old-fashioned, that this method of an author shocks me. If he does not openly hawk his book and his reputation, he at least tempts one publisher to bid against another, and thus invites the publisher to regard it as a mere commodity. But I suppressed my dislike of the method and went straight about the business of getting the book, for I should like to have it.

“I will give you,” I said, “twenty per cent. royalty, and I will pay you $5,000 on the day of publication.”

The words had not fallen from my mouth before I wished to recall them, for the publishing of books cannot be successfully done on these terms. There are only two or three books a year that can pay so much.

“I will consider it,” said he.

Abject as I was, I recovered myself far enough to say: “No, the offer is made for acceptance now or never—5before this conversation ends. I cannot keep it open.”

“My dear sir,” I went on, for I was regaining something of my normal courage, “do you know what twenty per cent. royalty on a $1.50 book means? You receive thirty cents for every copy sold. My net profit is about four or five cents a copy, if I manufacture it well and advertise it generously; and I supply the money in advance. I make an advance to you; I pay the papermaker in advance of my collections, the printer—everybody; and I wait from ninety to one hundred and twenty days after the book is sold to get my money. My profit is so small that it may vanish and become a loss by any misadventure, such as too much advertising, the printing of too large an edition, or the loss of an account with a failed bookdealer. I have no margin as an insurance against accidents or untoward events. I am doing business with you on an unfairly6 generous basis. I am paying you all the money that the book can earn—perhaps more than it can earn—for the pleasure of having you on my list. If I make money, I must make it on books for which I pay a smaller royalty.”

“But I can get twenty per cent. from almost any other publisher,” he replied, truthfully. “Why should I consider less from you?”

I could not answer him except by saying:

“Yes, I am not blaming you—not quite; but there is a grave fault in the system that has brought about this general result. You may have forgotten that this high royalty is a direct temptation to a publisher to skimp his advertising. You expect generous advertising of the book. Well, I can never sign an order for an advertisement of it without recalling the very narrow margin of profit that I have. An order for $500 worth of advertising will take as much7 net profit as I can make on several thousand copies.

“Again, when I come to manufacture the book, I cannot help recalling that gilt letters on the cover will increase the cost by one cent or two cents a copy. You tempt me to do all my work in the cheapest possible way.”

Well, we are good friends, this writer and I, and we signed the contract. He is to receive a royalty of twenty per cent., and a payment on his royalty account of $5,000 on the day of publication.

When, therefore, I had the pleasure of receiving the friends of another author, who told me that he would give me the book for twenty per cent. royalty ($5,000 cash on publication) if I cared to read it, I replied, “No.”


I had recovered. I said: “I cannot make money on that basis. Neither8 can other legitimate and conscientious publishers, who build their business to last. I will let novels alone, if I must. I will do a small business—but sounder. If that is your condition, do not leave the book. I will pay you a sliding scale of royalties: I cannot give you twenty per cent.”

And he went away. I had just as lief another publisher lost money on the book as to lose it myself. True, the public, the reading public and the writing public, will regard the success of the book (if it succeed) as evidence of a rival publisher’s ability and enterprise. He will win temporary reputation. He will seem to be in the “swim” of success. He will publish flaming advertisements, in the hope of obtaining other successful authors; and he will attract them, for much book advertising is done not with the hope of selling the book, but chiefly to impress writers with the publisher’s energy and generosity. But there’s no9 profit and great risk in business conducted in this way.

There is positive danger, in fact. And I owe it to myself and to all the men and women whose books I publish to see to it first of all that my own business is sound, and is kept sound. In no other way can I discharge my obligations to them and keep my publishing house on its proper level instead of on the level of a mere business shop.

The rise of royalties paid to popular authors is the most important recent fact in the publishing world. It has not been many years since ten per cent. was the almost universal rule; and a ten per cent. royalty on a book that sells only reasonably well is a fair bargain between publisher and author. If the publisher do his work well—make the book well, advertise it well, keep a well-ordered and well-managed and energetic house—this division of the profits is a fair division—except in the case of a10 book that has a phenomenally large sale. Then he can afford to pay more. Unless a book has a pretty good sale, it will not leave a profit after paying more than a ten per cent. royalty.

Figure it for yourself. The retail price of a novel is $1.50. The retail bookseller buys it for about ninety cents. The wholesale bookseller buys it from the publisher for about eighty cents. This eighty cents must pay the cost of manufacturing the book; of selling it; of advertising it; must pay its share towards 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 eighty cents which must be divided for so many purposes, the author receives a royalty of twenty per cent. (thirty cents a copy), there is left, of course, only fifty cents to pay all the other items. No other half-dollar11 in this world has to suffer such careful and continuous division! I have met a good many authors who have never realized that a ten per cent. royalty means nearly twenty per cent. on what the publisher actually sells the book for, and that a twenty per cent. royalty is nearly forty per cent. on the actual wholesale price.

There are several things of greater importance in the long run to an author than a large royalty. One of them is the unstinted loyalty of his publisher. His publisher must have a chance to be generous to his book. He ought not to feel that he must seek a cheap printer, that he must buy cheap paper, that he must make a cheap cover, that he must too closely watch his advertising account. A publisher has no chance to be generous to a book when he can make a profit on it only at the expense of its proper manufacture. The grasping author is, therefore, doing damage to his own book12 by leaving the publisher no margin of profit.


There is still another thing that an author should set above his immediate income from any particular book; and that is the stability of his publisher. The publisher is a business man (he has need to be a business man of the highest type), but he is also the guardian of the author’s property. If his institution be not sound and be not kept sound, the loss to the author in money and in standing may be very great. The embarrassment or failure of a publishing firm now and then causes much gossip; for a publishing house is a center of publicity. But nobody outside the profession knows what practical trouble and confusion and loss every failure or financial embarrassment costs the writing world. The normal sale of many books is stopped. The13 authors lose in the end, and they lose heavily.

Every publisher who appreciates his profession tries to make his house permanent, with an eye not only to his own profit, but also to the service that he may do to the writers on his list. If it is of the very essence of banking that a bank shall be in sound condition and shall have the confidence of the community, it is even more true that a publishing house should be sound to the core and should deserve financial confidence. The publisher must do his business with reference to a permanent success. But if he must do business on the basis of a twenty per cent. royalty, he takes risks that he has no right to take. It deserves to be called “wildcat” publishing.

I am, therefore, not making a plea, by this confession, for a larger profit to the publisher in any narrow or personal sense. Every successful publisher—14really successful, mind you—could make more money by going into some other business. I think that there is not a man of them who could not greatly increase his income by giving the same energy and ability to the management of a bank, or of some sort of industrial enterprise. Such men as Mr. Charles Scribner, Mr. George Brett, Mr. George H. Mifflin, could earn very much larger returns by their ability in banks, railroads or manufacturing, than any one of them earns as a publisher; for they are men of conspicuous ability.

It is, therefore, not as a matter of mere gain to the publisher that it is important to have the business on a sound and fair basis; but it is for the sake of the business itself and for the sake of the writers themselves.


Here is a true tale of a writer of good fiction: He made a most promising15 start. His first book, in fact, caused him to be sought by several publishers, who do not hesitate to solicit clients—a practice that other dignified professions discourage. The publisher of his first book gave him a ten per cent. royalty. For his second book he demanded more. A rival publisher offered him twenty per cent. The second book also succeeded. But the author in the meantime had heard the noise of other publishing houses. He had made the acquaintance of another writer whose books (which were better than his) had sold in much greater quantities. Of course, the difference in sales could not be accounted for by the literary qualities of the books—his friend had a better publisher than he—so he concluded. His third book, therefore, was placed with a third publisher, because he would advertise more loudly. Well, that publisher failed. His failure, by the way, the report of the receivers16 showed, was caused by spending too much in unproductive advertising.

Here our author stood, then, with three books, each issued by a different publishing house. What should he do with his fourth book? He came back to his second publisher, who had, naturally, lost some of his enthusiasm for such an author. To cut the story short, that man now has books on five publishers’ lists. Not one of the publishers counts him as his particular client. In a sense his books are all neglected. One has never helped another. He has got no cumulative result of his work. He has become a sort of stray dog in the publishing world. He has cordial relations with no publisher; and his literary product has really declined. He scattered his influence, and he is paying the natural penalty.

The moral of this true story (and I could tell half a dozen more like it) is that a publisher is a business man, but17 not a mere business man. He must be something more. He is a professional man also. He can do his best service only for those authors who inspire his loyalty, who enable him to make his publishing house permanent, and who leave him enough margin of profit to permit him to make books of which he can be proud.

The present fashion of a part of the writing world—to squeeze the last cent out of a book and to treat the publisher as a mere manufacturer and “boomer”—cannot last. It has already passed its high period and is on the decline. A self-respecting worm would have turned long ago. Even the publisher is now beginning to turn.

Better still, the authors whose books will be remembered longest have not caught the fashion of demanding everything. It was that passing school of “booms” and bellowing that did it all—the writers of romances for kitchen18 maids and shop girls, whose measure of book values was by dollars only. Such fashions always pass. For, if novel writing be so profitable an industry, a large number of persons naturally take it up; and they ruin the market by overstocking it.


Fast passing, then—praise God—is the “boomed” book, which, having no merit, could once be sold by sheer advertising, in several editions of 100,000 each. I have made a list of the writers of books that during the last five or six years have sold in enormous editions; and every one of these writers, but two, has lived to see his (or her) latest book sell far below its predecessors. One man, for instance, wrote a first book which sold more than 200,000 copies. His publishers announce only the sixtieth thousand of his latest novel, though it has now nearly run its course.

19 These are not pleasant facts. I wish that every novelist might have an increasing sale for every book he writes. They all earn more than they receive—even the bad ones whose books prosper; but the system that they brought with them deserves to die—must die, if publishing is to remain an honorable profession. They brought with them the 20 per cent. royalty, and the demand for an advertising outlay that was based on the sale of 100,000 or 200,000 copies. Only the keeper of dark secrets knows how many publishers have lost, or how large their losses have been, on “boomed” books. But any intelligent business man may take the 50 cents that the publisher receives for his $1.50 novel after paying the author’s 20 per cent. royalty, and divide it thus:

Cost of manufacture,
Cost of selling,
Office expense,
20Extravagant advertising,

If he can find anything left for profit, then he can get rich at any business. There have been novels so extravagantly advertised that the advertising cost alone amounted to 22 cents for every copy sold. The writer drove the publisher to loss; the publisher (foolishly) consented in the hope of attracting other authors to his house. If “other authors” knew that the very cost of the bait that attracted them makes the publishing house unsound, they would not long be fooled.

Thus it comes about, in this strange and fascinating world of writing and making and selling books, that one period of “whooping up” novels is ending. Half the novels advertised during the past few years in big medicine style did not pay the publishers; and any conservative publisher can tell you which half they are.

The manufacturing novelist has always21 been with us. But he used to be an humble practitioner of the craft whose “output” was sold for ten cents a volume. He always will be with us, and his product will sell, some at ten cents a volume, some at $1.50. But the time seems about to pass when he can disturb the publishing situation. For the publisher has to accept his methods when he accepts his work; and his methods do not pay either in dignity, permanency, or cash. If any of these be lacking—and in proportion as they are lacking—the results will fall short of the ideal. The results to be hoped for are money, but not money only, but also a watchful care by the publisher over his author’s reputation and growth, and a cumulative influence for his books.


There are, perhaps, a dozen American novelists who have large incomes from their work; there are many more who22 have comfortable incomes; but there is none whose income is as large as the writers of gossip for the literary journals would have us believe. It has been said that Harper’s Magazine pays Mrs. Humphry Ward $15,000 for the serial right of each of her stories and twenty per cent. royalty. Miss Johnston must have made from $60,000 to $70,000 from royalties on “To Have and to Hold,” for any publisher can calculate it.

But along with these great facts let us humbly remember that Mr. Carnegie received $300,000,000 for all his steel mills, good will, etc.; for the authors that I have named are the “millionaires” of the craft. I wish there were more. But the diligent writers of most good fiction, hard as they have ground the publishers in the rise of royalties, are yet nearer to Grub street than they are to Skibo Castle.

The truth is—but it would be a difficult23 task to reduce such a truth to practice—that the public gets its good new novels too cheap. There is not a large enough margin of profit for author, publisher and bookseller in a new book that is meant to be sold for $1.50 and that is often sold for $1.08. The business of bookmaking and bookselling is underpaid. There is not a publisher in the United States who is today making any large sum of money on his “general trade.” Money is made on educational books, on subscription books, on magazines. But publishing, as publishing, is the least profitable of all the professions, except preaching and teaching, to each of which it is a sort of cousin.



The First May Have No Literary Quality, but They Have a Genuine Quality—Power of Construction the Main Thing in Story-Writing—Literary Reviews of Novels are Regarded as of Little Value by Publishers—Odd Incidents and Facts in the Business.

A report on the manuscript of a novel made by a “literary” reader not long ago ended with this sentence: “This novel is bad enough to succeed.” He expressed the feeling of a great many literary persons that fiction often succeeds in the market in proportion to its “badness.” And surely there are many instances to support such a contention from the “Lamplighter” to “When Knighthood Was in Flower.” But the28 “literary” view of fiction is no more trustworthy than the “literary” view of politics or of commerce; for it concerns itself more with technique than with substance.

It is a hard world in which “Knighthood,” “Quincy Adams Sawyer” and “Graustark,” to say nothing of “The One Woman,” “Alice of Old Vincennes” and a hundred more “poor” books make fortunes, while Mr. Howells and Mr. James write to unresponsive markets and even Mr. Kipling cannot find so many readers for a new novel as Mr. Bacheller of “Eben Holden.” It seems a hard world to the professional literary folk; but the professional literary folk would find it a hard world anyhow; for it has a way of preferring substance to color. And novels, after all, have less to do with literature than they have to do with popular amusement.

Heaven forbid that I should make defence of bad writing, or of sensational29 literature, or of bad taste, or of any other thing that is below grade; but, as between the professional literary class, and the great mass of men who buy “Eben Holdens” and “David Harums” the mass of men have the better case.

Why does a man read a novel? Let us come down to common-sense. He seeks one of two things—either a real insight into human nature (he got that in “David Harum”) or he seeks diversion, entertainment. A writer’s style is only a part of the machinery of presentation. The main thing is that he has something to present. Even though I am a publisher I think that I know something about literary quality and literary values, and it must be owned at once that hardly one in a dozen of the very popular recent novels has any literary quality. But every one of them, nevertheless, has some very genuine and positive quality. They were not written by any trick, and their popularity30 does not make the road to success any easier to find. They have qualities that are rarer than the merely literary quality. Mr. Henry James’s novels have what is usually called the literary quality. Yet half the publishing houses in the United States have lost money on them, while the publisher and the author of “Richard Carvel” and “The Crisis” and “The Crossing” made a handsome sum of money from these books, which have no literary style.

This does not mean a whining confession that “literature” does not pay. For my part I cannot weep because Mr. James and Mr. Howells do not find many readers for their latest books. They find all they deserve. Mere words were never worth much money or worth much else. But, while Mr. Churchill is not a great writer (since he has no style), and while few persons of the next generation of readers (whereby I mean those of year after next) are going to31 take the trouble to read his books, yet, for all that, they have a quality that is very rare in this world, a quality that their imitators never seem to see. They have construction. They have action. They have substance. A series of events come to pass in a certain order, by a well-laid plan. Each book makes its appeal as a thing built, finished, shapen, if not well-proportioned, substantial. It is a real structure—not a mere pile of bricks and lumber. The bricks and lumber that went into them are not as fine nor as good as somebody else may have in his brickyard and his lumber pile. But they are put together. A well shapen house of bad bricks is a more pleasing thing than any mere brick-pile whatever.

I recall this interesting experience of a man whose novels are now fast winning great popular favor. He sat down and wrote a story and sent it to a publisher. It was declined. He sent it to another.32 Again it was declined. Then he brought it to me. (He told me of the preceding declinations a year later). I told him frankly that it lacked construction. I supposed that that was the last that I should see of him. But about a year later he came again with another manuscript and with this interesting story.

“Like a fool,” said he, “I simply blazed away and wrote what I supposed was a novel. Nobody would publish it. When you said that it lacked construction, I went to work to study the construction of a novel. I analyzed twenty. I found a dozen books on the subject which gave me some help. But there are few books that do help. I constructed a sort of method of my own.”

That man yet has no sense of literary values, as they are usually considered. The only good quality of his style is its perfect directness and clearness. He writes blunt, plain sentences. But every one of them tells something. He does33 not bother himself about style, nor about literary quality. He fixes his mind on the story itself, to see that it has substance, form, action, proportion. And he worked out this new novel with these qualities in it.

It was a dime novel in praise of one of the cardinal Christian virtues—very earnest, very direct. But the persons in it were real. They not only said things, they did things; and many of the things they did were interesting. One of our salesmen was asked to read the manuscript. “It’ll sell,” said he. Our literary adviser said that it was a bald moral Sunday school play. “You could put it on the stage by cutting it here and there,” he declared. “But it has no literary quality.” Both were right. The book has sold well. It has amused and interested its tens of thousands.

The author’s next book after that was very much better. Having learned something of the art of construction he34 began to think of such a detail as style. He re-wrote the book to make it “smooth.” But the point is, he first paid attention to his construction and made sure that he had a story to tell.

The enormous amount of waste work done by unsuccessful novel writers is done without taking the trouble first to make sure that they have a story to tell.

Few persons have any constructive faculty. This is the sad fact that comes home at last to a man who has read novels in manuscript for many years. A publisher comes to look for construction in a novel before he looks for style or literary quality.

This confession is enough to provoke the literary journals to condemn the publishers as mere mercenary dealers in sensational books. Yet, while a book that is well constructed may not be “literature,” very few books have a serious chance to become literature unless they have good construction.

35 I, for one, and I know no publisher who holds a different opinion, care nothing for the judgment of the professional literary class. Their judgment of a novel, for instance, is of little value or instruction. It may be right—often it is. It may be wrong. But whether right or wrong (and there is no way that I know to determine finally whether any judgment be right or wrong) it is of no practical value. A literary judgment of a new novel cannot affect the judgment that men will form of it ten years hence. Therefore it is of no permanent value. Neither can it affect the sales of a new novel. It is therefore of no practical importance for the moment. I look upon reviews of novels as so much publicity—they have value, as they tell the public that the book is published and can be bought, and as they tell something about it which may prod the reader’s curiosity. Further than this they are of no account. Not one of the three36 publishers whose personal habits I know as a rule takes the trouble to read the reviews of novels of his own publishing.

Novel making, then, is an industry, and the people who make them best concern themselves very little about what is usually meant by “literary values,” and very little about their popularity. The writers who deliberately set out to write novels of great popularity have almost always missed it. The industry is an art, also, but it is not an art of mere fine writing. It is chiefly an art of construction—an art of putting things in due proportion. This assumes, of course, that the novelist has things to put.

The truth is, the delicate and difficult art of finding out just what the public cares for—the public of this year or the public of ten years hence—has not been mastered by many men, whether writers or publishers. If you find out what the great public of today wants, you are37 a sensationalist. If you find out what the great public of ten or twenty years hence will want, you are a maker or a publisher of literature. And the public of the future is pretty sure to want something different from the public of today.

Within six months after the publication of a popular novel the publisher of it (other publishers, too) will receive a dozen or a hundred stories that have been suggested by it. Many an author of such a manuscript will write that he has discovered the secret of the popular book’s success and that he has turned it to profit in his own effort. Such letters are singularly alike. The writers of them regard success as something won by a trick, as a game of cards might be won. These remind one, too, of the advertisements of patent medicines—except that the writers of them are sincere. They believe heartily in their discovery. Thus every very popular novel gives a38 great stimulus to the production of novels. “To Have and To Hold” brought cargoes of young women for colonists’ wives to hundreds of amateur story writers.

But stranger than the popularity of very popular novels, or than the utter failure of merely “literary” novels, is the moderate success of a certain kind of commonplace stories. I know a woman of domestic tastes who every two years turns off a quiet story. She has now written a dozen or more. They are never advertised. But they are well printed and put forth by one of our best publishers. The “literary” world pays no heed to her. Her books are not even reviewed in the best journals. They lack distinction. But every one is sure to sell from ten to fifteen thousand copies. No amount of advertising, no amount of noise could increase the number of readers to twenty-five thousand; and there is no way to prevent a sale of from ten39 to fifteen thousand copies. Why this is so is one of the most baffling problems of psychology. But it is the rule. Authors of novels are known and rated among publishers as ten thousand, or twenty-five thousand, or fifty thousand, or one hundred thousand writers. Book after book reaches a certain level of popularity and—stops. Mr. Marion Crawford, Mr. Hopkinson Smith, Miss Wilkins—all these have their more or less constant levels.

The lay world has no idea of the number of novels that fail. There are one-book authors all over the country. The publishers’ hope always is that a new writer who makes a pretty good novel will do better next time. Thus the first book is accepted for the sake of the next one. The first fails, and the second is not wanted. There are dozens and dozens of such cases every year. The public doesn’t know it, for the very abyss of oblivion is the place where a40 dead novel falls. Nobody knows it—that is the tragedy—but the publishers and the author.

A case came to light a little while ago of a man who had years ago written novels that failed. He had been forgotten. But he took a new start. Yet he feared that his first failures would damn him with the publishers. He took another name, therefore. Not even his publishers knew who he really was. He succeeded and he concealed his identity until he died.

The publisher’s loss on an unsuccessful novel may be little or big. All publishers lose much on unsuccessful ventures in fiction, chiefly on young authors who are supposed to have a future, or on old authors who have a “literary” reputation and have reached that ghostly period of real decline when they walk in dreams from one publishing house to another.

But there is generally a reason for41 success or for failure. The trouble is that the reason often does not appear soon enough. The chief reason for the success of a novel is the commonplace one that it contains a story. It may be told ill or it may be told well, but there is a story. And the chief reason for failure is the lack of a story. A novel may be ever so well written,—if it have no story, the public will not care for it.

I wonder if there be any light in this very obvious discovery. Simple as it seems, it costs every publishing house a pretty penny every year to find it out; and as soon as we find it out about one writer we forget it about another! It is a great truth that does not remain discovered.



An Emphatic Answer in the Negative—They Are Gentlemen and Ladies and Treat Their Publisher with Courtesy—Bonds of Friendship Thus Formed That Endure—Some Amusing and Nettling Exceptions—Cranks Among the Scholars—The Inconstant Author Who Is Always Changing Publishers—Why a Publishing Trust Is Impossible.

The old and persistent notion that the writers of books are an irritable tribe, hard to deal with, and manageable only by flattery—if it was ever true, is not true now. During an experience of a good many years I have suffered a discourtesy from only two. Both these were “philosophers”—not even poets, nor novelists. They wrote books that the years have proved are dull; and,46 when it became my duty to disappoint them, although I hope I did it courteously, they wrote ill-tempered letters. The hundreds of other writers of all sorts that I have had the pleasure to deal with have conducted themselves as men and women of common sense, and most of them are men and women of very unusual attractiveness. I doubt whether a man of any other calling has the privilege of dealing with persons of such graciousness and of such consideration.

But the women who write require more attention than the men. Their imaginations are more easily excited by the hope of success, and few of them have had business experience. They want to be fair and appreciate frank dealing. Yet they like to have everything explained in great detail.

One woman, now one of our most successful novelists—successful both as a writer of excellent books and as an earner of a good income—was kind47 enough to seek my advice about one of her early novels. It was a book that she ought not to have written; the subject was badly chosen. I frankly told her so. The whole reading world has told her so since. But naturally she did not agree with me. She took the book to another publisher. Two years passed. She had a second novel ready. This was one of the best American stories of a decade. To my great gratification I received a letter from her one day asking if I cared to read it. Of course I said yes.

Then came another telling how she had never changed her opinion of her former book—not a jot—I must understand that thoroughly. If that were clearly understood she went on to say she would like to have me publish the new book on two conditions: (1) That I should myself read it immediately and say frankly what I thought of it, and (2) that I should pay her a royalty large enough to repair her wounded feelings48 about the former book. Subsequently she added another condition—

“You may publish it,” she said, “if you heartily believe in the book.”

Very shrewdly said—that “heartily believe in the book.” For the secret of good publishing lies there. There are some books that a publisher may succeed with without believing in them—a dictionary or a slapdash novel, for examples. But a book that has any sterling quality—a real book—ought never to have the imprint of a publisher who is not really a sharer of its fortunes, a true partner with the author. For only with such a book can he do his best.

I did believe in this book. As soon as it was in type I required every man in my office who had to do with it to read it—the writer of “literary notes,” the salesman and even the shipping clerk. When the author next called I introduced to her all these. They showed their enthusiasm. She was convinced. The49 book succeeded in the market almost beyond her expectations. It is a good book. Everyone of us believes in it and believes in her.

She is not a crank, “but only a woman.” We have our reward in her friendship and she is generous enough to think that we have done her some service. We esteem it a high privilege to be her publishers.

But God save me from another woman who has won a conspicuous success in the market. The first question she ever asked me was:

“Are you a Christian?”

“Do I look like a Jew or a Mohammedan?” I asked.

She never forgave me. Her novel had a great religious motive. It sold by the tens of thousands and most maudlin emotionalists in the land have read it. But I do not publish it. To do so, I should have had to pay the price of being “converted.” Now this lady is50 a crank. But it is not fair to call her books literature.

The veriest crank of all is our great scholar. It is an honor to publish the results of his scholarship (few parsnips as it butters), for the man’s work is as attractive as he is odd. He thinks himself the very soul of fairness. Yet he comes at frequent intervals wishing so to change his contract as to make publishing his books an even more expensive luxury than it was before. A contract is to him a thing to make endless experiments with. When we were once driven to desperation, one of my associates suggested that we propose half a dozen unimportant changes in it, on the theory that change—any change—was all he wanted. It was an inspired suggestion. A great scholar, a restless child. But some day (we feel) he will break over all traces, and we are all afraid of him.

But very sane and sensible men and51 women are most of those who succeed in winning the public favor. Some are grasping, as other men are. One, for instance, whose book had earned $7,000 in two years, demanded a prepayment of $8,000 for the next book. A compromise was made on $2,000! That was the measure of my folly, for the book is waning in its popularity and has hardly earned this prepaid royalty.

An author came to my office one day indignant because his novel was not more extensively advertised. There was the usual explanation—it would not pay. He had money to spare and he proposed to advertise it himself. He wrote the advertisements, he selected the journals in which the advertisements should appear, and he inserted them—$1,000 worth.

By some strange fate the sales of the book began just then greatly to decline. They have kept declining since, and why nobody can tell. When the public has52 bought a certain number of copies of a novel—of one novel it may be 1,000 copies, of another 100,000 copies—there is nothing that can be done to make it buy another 1,000 or 100,000. It seems to know when it has enough. Take more it will not. The worst “crank” that any publisher ever encountered is not an author; it is the public, unreasoning, illogical, unconvincible, stolid!

Odd persons are found in every craft. But I think that there are fewer odd ones among successful writers than among successful lawyers, for instance. And this is what one would naturally expect, but for the traditional notion that writers are unbalanced. Who else is so well balanced as the writer of good books? He must have sanity and calmness and judgment, a sense of good proportion, an appreciation of right conduct and of all human relations, else he could not make books of good balance and proportion.

53 Most writers have few financial dealings, and they often innocently propose impracticable things. But this is not a peculiar trait of writers. Most preachers and many women show it. I have known a successful college president, for instance, to cut a paragraph out of a proof sheet with a pair of scissors, imagining that this would cause it to be taken out by the printers.

They are appreciative, too; and they make the most interesting friends in the world. Almost all writers of books work alone. Lawyers work with clients and with associated and opposing lawyers. Even teachers have the companionship of their pupils in the work. Men of most crafts work with their fellows, and they forget how much encouragement they owe to this fellowship. A dreary task is made light by it and monotonous labor is robbed of its weariness. But the writer works alone.

Almost the first man to be taken into54 his confidence about his work is his publisher. If the publisher be appreciative and sympathetic and render a real service, how easily and firmly the writer is won. A peculiarly close friendship follows in many cases—in most cases, perhaps, certainly in most cases when the author’s books are successful.

And this is why a great publishing trust, or “merger” is impossible. The successful publisher sustains a relation to the successful author that is not easily transferable. It is a personal relation. A great corporation cannot take a real publisher’s place in his attitude to the authors he serves.

This is the reason, too, why the “authors’ agents” seldom succeed in raising the hopes of unsuccessful writers. As soon as a writer and a publisher have come into a personal relation that is naturally profitable and pleasant, a “go-between” has no place. There is no legitimate function for him.

55 Writers are as constant in their relations as other men and women. As they acquire experience, they become more constant. Every one for himself works his way to this conclusion—once having an appreciative and successful publisher, it is better to hold to him. And the strong friendships that grow out of this relation are among the most precious gains to each.

One publisher said to another the other day: “I see by your announcements that one of my authors has gone to you—you are welcome.”

“Yes,” was the reply, “I have in almost every instance made a mistake when I have taken in a dissatisfied writer—one cannot make lasting friends with them.”

Every great publishing house has been built on the strong friendships between writers and publishers. There is, in fact, no other sound basis to build on; for the publisher cannot do his highest duty to56 any author whose work he does not appreciate, and with whom he is not in sympathy. Now, when a man has an appreciation of your work and sympathy for it, he wins you. This is the simplest of all psychological laws—the simplest of all laws of friendship and one of the soundest.

Those who know the personal history of the publishing houses that in recent years have failed or met embarrassments know that, in most cases, one cause of decline was the drawing apart of publishers and authors. When authors begin to regard their publishers as mere business agents, and publishers to regard authors as mere “literary men” with whom they have only business relations, the beginning of a decline has come.

I recall as one of the pleasantest days of my life the day on which I accepted a book by an author I had never before seen. So pleasant was our correspondence57 that I took the first occasion I could to go nearly a thousand miles to see him. In his own house we talked about his literary plans, and I spent a day always to be remembered. Our friendship began then. Of course I was interested in his work—you cannot long feign an interest that you do not feel. This friendship has lasted now long enough to make it very much more secure a bond than any merely commercial service could have become.

Every publisher’s experience is the same—if he be a real publisher and will long remain a real publisher. Else he would be only a printer and a salesman, and mere printers and salesmen have not often built publishing houses. For publishing houses have this distinction over most other commercial institutions—they rest on the friendship of the most interesting persons in the world, the writers of good books.

The more formal cultivation of58 friendly relations such as the famous dinners that some publishers used regularly to give to writers has gone out of fashion. There are yet a few set dinners in the routine of several American publishing houses. But every true publisher knows the authors of his books—knows them as his friends; and the tradition of irritability is false. It is usually the unsuccessful who are irritable, whether they be authors or not.



A Charge Fairly Met and Its Truths Admitted—Many Features of the Business in Which a Low Tone Prevails—The Literary Solicitor an Abhorrent Creature—On the Whole, However, Commercial Degradation Prevails Less with Publishers Than in Many Other Callings—The Confidence Authors Have in Them Is Their Best Asset.

Authorship and publishing—the whole business of producing contemporaneous literature—has for the moment a decided commercial squint. It would be wrong to say, as one sometimes hears it said, that it has been degraded; for it has probably not suffered as nearly a complete commercialization as the law has suffered, for instance. But that fine indifference to commercial62 results which was once supposed to be characteristic of the great publishers does not exist today. Perhaps it never existed except in memoirs and literary journals! But there was a less obvious effort to make money in the days of the first successful American publishing houses than there is now.

The old publishing houses put forth schoolbooks; and many a dignified literary venture was “financed” by money made from the sale of textbooks and subscription books. But now the greater part of the money made from these two special departments is made by houses that publish nothing else. The making of schoolbooks and the making of subscription books have been specialized, and almost separated from general publishing. Two great textbook houses have made large incomes; and they publish nothing but schoolbooks. These profits, which were once at the service of literature, are now withdrawn63 from it. The “general” publisher has to make all his profits on his “general” books. The necessity is the heavier on him, therefore, to make every book pay. This is one reason why the general publisher has to watch his ledger closely.

Another reason for greater emphasis on the financial side of literary production is the enormously increased expense of conducting a general publishing house. The mere manufacture of books is perhaps a trifle cheaper than it used to be, but every other item of expense has been increased enormously within a generation. It costs more to sell books than it ever cost before. Advertising rates have been doubled or trebled, and more advertising must be done. Even a small general publishing house must spend as much as $30,000 or $50,000 a year in general advertising. There are many houses that each spend a great deal more than this every year.

The author, too, it must be remembered,64 has become commercial. He demands and he receives a larger share of the gross receipts from his book than authors ever dreamed of receiving in the days of the old-time publisher. All the other expenses of selling books have increased. There was a time when publishing houses needed no travelling salesmen. Now every house of any importance has at least two. They go everywhere, with “dummies” and prospectuses of books long before they are ready for the market. Other items of “general expense” besides advertising and salesmen and ever-increasing rent, are the ever-growing demands of the trade for posters and circulars; correspondence grows more and more; more and more are special “window displays” required, for which the publisher pays. All the while, too, books are sold on long time. As a rule they are not paid for by many dealers till six months after they are manufactured.

65 All these modern commercial methods have added to the publisher’s expense or risk; and for these reasons his business has become more like any other manufacturing business than it once seemed to be—perhaps more than it once was. Of course there are publishers—there always were such—who look only to their ledgers as a measure of their success. These are they who have really demoralized the profession, and the whole publishing craft has suffered by their methods.

It was once a matter of honor that one publisher should respect the relation established between another publisher and a writer, as a physician respects the relation established between another physician and a patient. Three or four of the best publishing houses still live and work by this code. And they have the respect of all the book world. Authors and readers, who do not know definitely why they hold them in esteem,66 discern a high sense of honor and conduct in them. Character makes its way from any man who has it down a long line—everybody who touches a sterling character comes at last to feel it both in conduct and in product. The very best traditions of publishing are yet a part of the practice of the best American publishing houses, which are conducted by men of real character.

But there are others—others who keep “literary drummers,” men who go to see popular writers and solicit books. The authors of very popular books themselves also—some of them at least—put themselves up at auction, going from publisher to publisher or threatening to go. This is demoralization and commercialization with a vengeance. But it is the sin of the authors.

As a rule, this method has not succeeded; or it has not succeeded long. There are two men in the United States who have gone about making commercial67 calls on practically every man and woman who has ever written a successful book; and they are not well thought of by most of the writers whom they see. Every other publisher hears of their journeyings and of their “drumming.” Sometimes they have secured immediate commercial results, but as a rule they have lost more than they have gained. The permanent success of every publishing house is built on the confidence and the esteem of those who write books. When a house forfeits that, it begins to lose. Its very foundations begin to become insecure.

Commercial as this generation of writers may be, almost every writer of books has an ambition to win literary esteem. They want dignity. They seek reputation on as high a level as possible. “The trouble with the whole business” (I quote from a letter from a successful novelist) “is that novel-writing has become so very common. ‘Common’ is68 the word. It is no longer distinguished. What I want is distinction. Money I must have—some money at least; but I want also to be distinguished.” That is a frank confession that almost every writer makes sooner or later.

Now, when a publishing house forfeits distinction it, too, becomes common, and loses its chance to confer a certain degree of distinction. And literary “drummers” have this effect—authors who can confer distinction shun their houses. The literary solicitor, therefore, can work only on a low level; and the houses that use him are in danger of sinking to a low level.

The truth is, it is a personal service that the publisher does for the author, almost as personal a service as the physician does for his patient or the lawyer for his client. It is not merely a commercial service. Every great publisher knows this and almost all successful authors find it out, if they do not know it at first.

69 The ideal relation between publisher and author requires this personal service. It even requires enthusiastic service. “Do you thoroughly believe in this book? and do you believe in me?” these are the very proper questions that every earnest writer consciously or unconsciously puts to his publisher. Even the man who writes the advertisements of books must believe in them. Else his advertisements will not ring true. The salesmen must believe what they say. The booksellers and the public will soon discover whether they believe it. They catch the note of sincerity—the public is won; the author succeeds. Or they catch the note of insincerity and the book lags.

This is the whole story of good publishing. Good books to begin with, then a personal sincerity on the part of the publisher. And there is no lasting substitute for these things.

The essential weakness in most of even70 the best publishing houses of our day is the lack of personal literary help to authors by the owners of the publishing houses themselves. Almost every writer wishes to consult somebody. If they do not wish advice, they at least wish sympathy. Every book is talked over with somebody. Now, when a publishing house has a head—an owner—who will read every important manuscript, and freely and frankly talk or write about it, and can give sympathetic suggestions, that is the sort of publishing house that will win and hold the confidence of the best writers. From one point of view the publisher is a manufacturer and salesman. From another point of view he is the personal friend and sympathetic adviser of authors—a man who has a knowledge of literature and whose judgment is worth having. A publisher who lacks the ability to do this high and intimate service may indeed succeed for a time as a mere manufacturer and seller71 of books; but he can add little to the best literary impulses or tendencies of his time; nor is he likely to attract the best writers.

And—in all the noisy rattle of commercialism—the writers of our own generation who are worth most on a publisher’s list respond to the true publishing personality as readily as writers did before the day of commercial methods. All the changes that have come in the profession, therefore, have not after all changed its real character as it is practised on its higher levels. And this rule will hold true—that no publishing house can win and keep a place on the highest level that does not have at least one man who possesses this true publishing personality.

There is much less reason to fear the commercial degradation of many other callings than the publishers’.

A louder complaint of commercialism has been provoked by the unseemly72 advertising of novels than by any other modern method of publishers. Now this is a curious and interesting thing. A man or woman writes a story (let us call it a story, though it be a mild mush of mustard, warranted to redden the faded cheeks of sickly sentimentality) which, for some reason that nobody can explain, has the same possibilities of popularity as Salvation Soap. A saponaceous publisher puts it out; he advertises it in his soapy way; people buy it—sometimes two hundred or three hundred thousand of them.

Behold! a new way has been found to write books that sell, and a new way to sell them. Hundreds of writers try the easy trick. Dozens of minor publishers see their way to fortune. But the trick cannot be imitated, and the way to fortune remains closed. It is only now and then that a novel has a big “run” by this method. The public does not see the hundreds of failures.73 It sees only the occasional accidental success.

There is no science, no art, no literature in the business. It is like writing popular songs: One “rag-time” tune will make its way in a month from one end of the country to the other. A hundred tune-makers try their hands at the trick—not one of their tunes goes. The same tune-maker who “scored a success” often fails the next time. There is, I think, not a single soap-novelist who has put forth a subsequent novel of as great popularity as his “record-breaker,” and several publishing houses have failed through unsuccessful efforts at the brass-band method.

This is not publishing. It is not even commercialism. It is a form of gambling. A successful advertising “dodge” makes a biscuit popular, or a whiskey, or a shoe, or a cigarette, or anything. Why not a book, then? This would be all that need be said about it but for the “literary”74 journals. They forthwith fall to gossiping, and keep up a chatter about “great sellers,” and bewail commercialism in literature, until we all begin to believe that the whole business of book-writing and book-publishing has been degraded. Did it ever occur to you that in the “good old days” of publishing there were no magazines that retailed the commercial and personal gossip of the craft?

As nearly as I can make out the publishing houses in the United States that are conducted as dignified institutions are conducted with as little degrading commercialism as the old houses whose history has become a part of English literature, and I believe that they are conducted with more ability. Certainly not one of them has made a colossal fortune. Certainly not one of them ever failed to recognize or to encourage a high literary purpose if it were sanely directed. Every one of them every year75 invests in books and authors that they know cannot yield a direct or immediate profit, and they make these investments because they feel ennobled by trying to do a service to literature.

The great difficulty is to recognize literature when it first comes in at the door, for one quality of literature is that it is not likely even to know itself. The one thing that is certain is that the critical crew and the academic faculty are sure not to recognize it at first sight. To know its royal qualities at once under strange and new garments—that is to be a great publisher, and the glory of that achievement is as great as it ever was.



A Popular Illusion Based on “Graustark” and “David Harum” Dispelled—Publishers Blunder More Often in Welcoming Than in Rejecting Manuscripts of the “New Man”—Guess Work Enters Largely Into the Fate of a Novel—How Publishers Judge Manuscripts and How “Reading” Is Done.

It will probably always be believed by many persons that publishing houses do not give careful attention to book manuscripts that come from strangers. The case of “David Harum” did much to fix this notion in the public mind. The manuscript was declined by three or four publishers before it was accepted by the Appletons. Its declination was an evidence of bad financial book-judgment,80 but it is not proof that it was carelessly considered. Most publishers’ readers are literary folk, pure and simple. Not one in a hundred has a good financial judgment of a manuscript. As a literary product, judged by academic standards, there was not much in “David Harum” to commend it. The publishers who rejected it acted on the readers’ reports. When it went to the Appletons, somebody was shrewd enough to see that if it were shortened and put in somewhat better form, it would have a commercial value. A publishing judgment was passed on it there and not merely a conventional literary judgment.

Or, take the case of “Graustark.” It was declined at least by one publisher. There is, perhaps, not a “literary” reader in the world who would have commended it in manuscript, or (for that matter) who will commend it now. It does violence to every literary canon.81 But a Chicago publisher, by some divine or subterranean suggestion, saw a chance for it. Its roughest edges were hewn off with an axe, and it was put forth. There have now appeared four “Graustark” books, three of which have each sold perhaps a hundred times as many copies as Mr. Howell’s latest novel will sell.

The difference between a mere literary judgment and a publishing judgment indicates the greatest weakness in the organizations of most publishing houses. The publisher himself is usually a business man. He has to concern himself with the financial work of his house—with the manufacture and the sale of books. In a great measure he relies, for his judgment of literary values, on his advisers and readers. As a rule these advisers and readers are employed men or women. They know nothing about what may be called the commercial value of books. Many of them know82 nothing about the losses or the profits on the books that they have commended. They have had no experience in selling books. These facts indicate the wrong organization of most publishing houses. Yet the faithfulness that they show to aspiring authors is amazing; they plough conscientiously through thousands of manuscripts looking for the light of some possible genius, and they commend dozens of books where their employers accept a single volume.

But the publisher does acquire a sort of sixth sense about a book. He may or he may not know literary values, but he comes to have a peculiar sort of knowledge of the commercial possibilities of books. If he takes “literary readers’” judgments and does not read manuscripts himself, he will now and then let a “David Harum” pass through his hands. To avoid such mistakes every publishing house has at least two readers, and these read manuscripts independently83 of one another. The publisher then makes his judgment from them both, or perhaps from a third reading by a specialist, if the manuscript seem good enough to warrant a third reading.

The mistake of permitting a profitable manuscript to be rejected does not come, therefore, from inattention to the work of strangers, but from sheer fallibility of judgment. And the work of strangers is very carefully considered in every publishing house that I know anything about. Every publisher in these days is just as eager to get a new good writer on his list as any unknown writer is eager to get a publisher; and no manuscript above the grade of illiteracy is neglected.

A “first reader”—a man of all around 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.84 If it be a shopworn 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 it or approve it, it is examined or read by another reader. If both these condemn it as hopeless, the publisher declines it without more ado.

The greater number of manuscripts that come to publishing houses are hopeless. Three-fourths of them, or more, are novels that have been written by lonely women or by men who have no successful occupation; and most of these are conscious or unconscious imitations of recent popular novels. It does not require very shrewd judgment to see that they are hopeless. But it does require time. If they are above the grade of illiteracy somebody must read a hundred pages or more to make sure that the dulness of the early chapters may not be merely a beginner’s way of finding85 his gait. And many of these manuscripts go from publishing house to publishing house. There are, I should say, a thousand hopeless novels in manuscript at all times making this weary journey.

Sometimes one comes back to the same publisher a second time, the author having perhaps not kept an accurate record of its itinerary. Sometimes it comes back a year later, somewhat changed. There is one novel-manuscript that has come to me four times within two years, every time in a somewhat different form, and twice with different titles—obviously to fool the “careless” publisher.

While very few mistakes are made or are likely to be made with these manuscripts that two readers independently declare hopeless, the class next to these require a great deal of work and care. This class includes those books by unknown writers that are not bad. One reader will say that they are worth considering.86 The next reader will say that they have some sort of merit. Then the publisher must go slowly. A third person must read them. If the publisher be an ideal publisher, he will read them himself. (The weakness of most American publishing houses of this generation comes just here—the publisher himself does not read many manuscripts.)

In the best publishing houses (this, I know, is the habit of three) the reports on books of this class are all read at a meeting of the firm, or (better) at a meeting of the firm and of the heads of departments. At such a meeting the judgment of a sensible man who is at the head of the sales department of a publishing house is very useful. He knows by his everyday work what sort of books the public is buying. Some of them are books that the “literary” world knows nothing about or has forgotten.

And three or four or five men, by a little discussion, can reach a clearer and87 saner judgment about a book from the reports of three or four readers than the readers themselves can reach or than any one man or any two men who consider the reports could reach. There is no subject in the world about which a conference is likely to be more helpful. One man’s judgment about the publishing quality of a book may easily be wrong. The judgment of two men may be wrong if they look at it from the same angle or with the same temperament. But the judgment of three, or four, or five men, if they have the facts before them and if they indulge in frank discussion, is very seldom wrong. No book on which serious work has been done ought to be rejected or accepted without the benefit of the independent reports of two or three sensible persons who have carefully read it, and without the discussions of these reports by three or four other persons of experience and judgment. And in at least three American88 publishing houses every manuscript of any value or promise runs a course of hopeful consideration such as this; for the publisher wants good new books, he wants good new writers; and he wants them badly. Half a dozen popular writers will build a publishing house. It is, therefore, doubtful whether any other business is so carefully conducted with reference to its sources of supply.

In fact, all publishers make many more mistakes in accepting books than in declining them. They accept many books from new writers that they hope may possibly succeed, but in which they have not very strong faith. It is the book manuscripts of this class that cause the most work and the greatest trouble—the class that may possibly succeed. A book of this class by a new writer who shows cleverness or some other good quality is often accepted in the hope that the author may do better with the next book. It is accepted as an89 encouragement and as a hope; it chiefly is for this reason that so many books are published that are barely good enough to warrant publication. The publisher is trying to “develop” an author.

Sometimes this method succeeds; for it sometimes happens that a good writer writes a first book that is merely a promise of later achievement. But this does not often happen. In most cases the second book is no better than the first—or is worse. Then the publisher loses and the writer is seldom heard of again. The number of one-novel writers scattered over the land would surprise the world if it were known. There is no rule about literary production to which there are not an embarrassing number of exceptions. But in most cases a successful writer starts with a successful book. The hope that the second book will be better is one of the rocks on which many publishing ventures wreck.

But if the publishers put forth a number90 of commonplace books (chiefly novels) from a false hope that they may thus develop good writers, they also do a service of the opposite kind. They save the long-suffering public from many worthless books. For if the public had thrust upon it all or half or a tenth of the books that are written, what a dull world we should have!

When a book-manuscript has been rejected, the delicate task comes next of informing the author. This task is seldom done as well as it ought to be. It is almost impossible for a publisher—who receives and rejects manuscripts as a matter of business—to put himself in the place of a writer who has spent lonely weeks in her work. To send a mere business note is almost an insult. Yet what more can the publisher write? He does not dare write hopefully. If he does he will give a degree of encouragement that is dishonest. Yet the author expects a long and explicit letter telling91 why the manuscript is unavailable. If she does not receive such a letter she jumps to the conclusion that her manuscript has not had fair consideration. Publishers’ letters of rejection are the chief cause, I suspect, of the persistent notion that they are careless in the examination of manuscripts.

Every letter of declination ought to be written by a skilful man—a diplomatist who can write an unpleasant truth without offence. Every such letter ought to be written with a pen. No general form ought to be used. Yet in only one of the publishing houses whose habits I know is this degree of care taken. The consideration of manuscript from strangers is careful and conscientious, but letters of rejection are often perfunctory.

To sell a novel that has the mysterious quality of popularity in it is not difficult. Properly launched, it sells itself. To sell a novel that lacks the inherent quality of popularity—that is almost impossible.92 Apparently it has sometimes been done, but nobody can be sure whether the result after all was due to the book or to the salesman. Every publisher has proved, over and over again, to his disgust, that he cannot make the people buy a novel that they do not want; and when a novel appears (no better novel) that they do want, the novel-readers find it out by some free-masonry and would buy it if the publishers tried to prevent them.

Nobody has discovered a rule—to say nothing of a principle—whereby the popularity of a novel by a new writer may be determined. If it be a really great, strong book, of course it is easy to understand that it will sell; but whether it will sell 10,000 copies or 100,000 nobody knows. If it be a slapdash dime-novel, full of action, it is easy to guess that it will sell; but whether 5,000 or 500,000 nobody knows. Sometimes a book of the sheerest commonplace happens93 to hit the public mood at the happy angle and sells beyond all expectation. The truth is, every new novel by an unknown writer presents a problem peculiar to itself; and in advertising it and offering it for sale, every book’s peculiar problem must be studied by itself.

The whole question is a subtle social one. Who could have foretold popularity for “pigs in clover,” rather than for some other silly puzzle; or for ping-pong; or for women’s hats of a certain grotesque construction? The popular whim about novels is like the whims for these things. And a popular novel passes as quickly as any other fashion. The story has been many times told of the sudden falling off of the demand for “Trilby”—so sudden that the publishers had a large number of copies left on hand which could not be sold at all except as waste paper. Every publisher is afraid to publish very large editions of any very popular novel; for they have94 all had an experience parallel to this experience with “Trilby.”

But other kinds of books are less capricious than novels; and the business of the publisher has been reduced more nearly to a science in dealing with books of information. Several publishers, for example, have series of little books made of selections from English and American classics. Many of them have sold well; but some of them have sold by the million and others just as good and just as attractive have stopped at the ten-thousand limit or at a lower limit. The difference is with the skill with which they were put on the market. Sometimes an ingenious “scheme” will sell information books in great numbers; and it often happens that the worst of three or four books on the same subject and published for the same price, becomes far better known than the other better books.

As a theoretical proposition it seems95 plain that the publisher who will spend the most money in newspaper advertising will sell the most books. Authors not infrequently take up this notion. Sometimes it is true; for sometimes newspaper advertising will cause a great demand for a book. But this is not true with every book. And most recent publishing failures have been due—in a great measure, at least—to prodigal advertising—or, perhaps, to misdirected advertising.

Every book is a problem unto itself. The wise publisher so regards it from the beginning; and he makes his plans for every book to suit its peculiar case and not another. All the long road from author to reader, the book—any book—presents a series of interesting, original problems. Many of them are very fascinating problems. They call for imagination, fertility, ingenuity. The reason why few authors or authors’ societies or other persons who have not96 been definitely trained to publishing fail, is that they are too likely to regard publishing as a mere routine business—a business of manufacturing a certain product and then of offering it for sale. They forget that every book—and even every edition of every book—presents a problem that was never presented before since the world was made. And when its sympathetic ingenuity and inventiveness fail, a publishing house begins to become a mere business and the drying-up period is not far off.

But no publishing house fails because it does not examine manuscripts carefully. There is no other business that I know of that is done more seriously; and the mistakes made are fewer than the public thinks. They are mistakes of judgment and not of carelessness.



A Heartless Pirate Who Preys Upon the Unsophisticated and Ambitious Writer—The Contract in Which This Sort of “Publisher” Cannot Lose—The Inevitable Disappointment—How the Publication by Even a Responsible House of a Book That Sells Poorly Injures the House.

An innocent and ambitious good woman sent to me last year a form of contract that a printer who pretended to be a publisher had sent her to sign for the publication of a novel. In its unessential clauses it was like the usual publisher’s contract; but it required the author to pay in advance a fixed sum for the plates and for the manufacture of one thousand copies;100 and this sum was just about twice what they should cost him. Then he was to pay her not the usual ten or even fifteen per cent. royalty, but fifty per cent. on all copies sold—as well he might; and, if at the end of a year the book had ceased to sell, she was bound to buy the plates from him at half cost. The meaning of all this translated into figures, is this: The plates would cost him $250, for he does cheap work; a thousand copies of the book would cost him $200, for he makes cheap books; total, $450. She would pay him in advance $900. He has a profit so far of $450. He does not expect to sell any of the books. Her friends would buy perhaps as many as two hundred copies. They would not be on sale at the bookstores—except in her own town. At the end of the year she would pay him again for the plates half what he charged her at first—which is just what they cost him. By this time she would have101 paid just three times their cost to him. His outlay in the whole transaction would be:

For plates $250
For 1000 copies 200
  —— $450
His income would be: Her prepayment 900
Her purchase of the plates a year later 250
—— 1150
His profit   $700

He would not have even to make any outlay of capital. She supplies the capital and he makes his $700 profit by writing her a few letters. If any of the books were sold he would receive also half what they brought. She would have spent $1150, less what she received for the few copies that were sold. Her book would not have been published—only printed at an excessive cost.

There are several “publishers” who seem to do a prosperous brief business of this kind by preying upon inexperienced102 and disappointed authors. It is only by accident they ever get a book that sells; and they hardly pretend to put books on the market, for of course the booksellers will not buy them. A really good book would, therefore, in their hands be buried. The public would never find it out. They print a large number of the novels that the real publishers decline.

The long list of books—chiefly novels—that these pseudo-publishers put out tells a sad tale of misdirected energy and of disappointed hopes. A man—oftener it is a woman—conceives the notion of writing a novel. She works alone. She shuts herself off from life about her. Any human being who spends months at a self-imposed secret task becomes profoundly, even abnormally interested in it. The story grows—or flows; for the author becomes more fluent as she goes on. She is likely to accept all the stories of extraordinary103 successes that she reads in the literary journals as if they were common successes. She goes on working by herself with no corrective companionship. At last she sends it to a real publisher and gets a disappointing decision. She imagines a thousand reasons why she is not appreciated. She sends it to another, and so on. The story of the wanderings of “David Harum” in manuscript has given courage to thousands of worthless novels—a courage to travel to the last ditch, and the last ditch is the pseudo-publisher. “Yes,” he writes, “it is an unusual story;” and he will be greatly honored to publish it, and sends one of his remarkable contracts.

To get the book published by anybody will bring her recognition, she thinks. The public will be kinder than the publishers. She takes the risk—sometimes goes into debt to do so. That is the end of the book, and in most cases the end of the author’s career. The104 work begun in loneliness has ended in oblivion—wasted days, wasted dollars, wasted hopes.

Yet what is an author to do who believes in his own work when it is refused by the regular publisher? Publish it himself or let it remain in manuscript. Never permit it to be brought out by a publisher to whom any suspicion attaches.

There is not much danger (I do not believe there is any danger) that a manuscript of any value whatever will under present conditions fail to find a legitimate purchaser. But one way out of the difficulty that authors often seek is to propose to a legitimate publisher to publish his book at the writer’s expense; and it is not apparent to the layman why the publisher cannot afford to make such arrangements. “If the author pays the bill,” he says, “the publisher will surely lose nothing.” But the publisher does lose, and loses heavily,105 every time he publishes a book that is not successful in the market. A publisher cannot afford to accept a book that will not itself earn a profit. If the author pay all the cost and a good profit besides, even this does not change the case; for unsalable books clog the market and stop the wheels of the publisher’s whole trade. He soon begins to lose influence and standing in the book trade. The jobbers buy new books from him in smaller quantities. The booksellers become suspicious of his judgment.

Last year, to give a true instance, a publisher put out four new novels by four new writers. His salesmen and his advertising man announced them as good books. They made enthusiastic estimates of them. The book dealers ordered liberally. Three out of the four failed to make any appreciable success. The dealers had many copies of them left on hand. This year, when106 the same publisher brought out two more new novels by two more new writers, his salesmen met with incredulity and indifference. The booksellers said to them with a sad smile, “We’ll swap copies of your last year’s novels for these.”

Now it so happens that both of these new books of this year are good and popular. A demand for them was made as soon as the reviews appeared and people began to read them. But the booksellers were ill supplied. They would order only a few copies at a time—or none. Thus the good books of this year suffered because the publisher’s dull books of last year failed to bring profit or satisfaction to anybody. They stood in the way of this year’s better books.

While, therefore, no legitimate publisher wishes to reduce his business to a mere commercial basis, and while he is eager to maintain the dignity of his profession—must107 maintain it in fact—and do as high service as possible to the literary production of his time; yet he cannot load down his list with many books that have not a good commercial reason for existence.

The plausible proposition which is so often made in these days of universal authorship—to publish books at the author’s expense—is for these reasons not a sound proposition. If the book succeeds there is no reason why the author should make the investment. If it fail, the publisher loses, even though the author settle the bill; and he loses heavily.

A writer who asks a publisher to bring out a book that has no commercial reason for existence is asking him to imitate the “fake” publisher. The “fake” publisher could not make a living (since he has no character and cannot sell books) except by cash payments from his authors. As soon as the publisher108 begins to receive cash payments from his authors (be the basis ever so legitimate) he begins to clog up the outlets for his product. He has taken the first step towards “fake” publishing.

In a word, commercially unprofitable books may be printed, but they cannot be published without ruining the machinery that they are run through. He is the best publisher who has the largest proportion of good books on his list (whether his list be long or short) that are at the same time alive in the market.

There are—let it be said as an exception—a few classes of books that every publisher wishes to have on his list in spite of the fact that they cannot be made profitable, such as works of great scholarship or monumental works that have a lasting value. It is legitimate that the writers or the societies or organizations under whose directions such books were written should pay or share109 the cost of their manufacture. But few such works yield a profit at last to either publisher or author. And they are not made to clog the book market. They are sold only to special classes of readers.

A book is a commodity. Yet the moment it is treated as a mere commodity it takes severe revenge on its author and on its publisher.

These pseudo-publishers sometimes solicit manuscripts from ignorant writers. They have veiled advertisements in the literary journals. Ignorance and ambition is a susceptible combination. Several years ago one of these plausible swindlers bribed a reader in one of the larger publishing houses to report to him the names of all the writers whose novels were declined there. The fakir then plied them with circulars and letters.

While I have been writing about publishing swindles I have been reminded of the accusation brought several years110 ago against publishers—especially English publishers—that the temptation to fraud was too strong to be resisted by any but the most upright and successful men. An author gives his book to his publisher. Twice a year the publisher makes a report—pays royalties on the number of books that he has reported as sold. There is no way whereby the author can verify the publisher’s reports. He has to take his word for it. Even if the author or someone who acted for him were to see the publisher’s books, he could learn nothing, for the publisher’s bookkeeping is a very complicated thing; and reports of book sales could easily be “doctored.”

The chance for fraud does exist. But the first wish of every normal man in the business, even if he lacks vigorous honesty, is to make his reports of sales to his author as large as possible. This wish is too strong to be overcome by anything less than the most hopeless111 moral depravity. A publisher who should commit the crime of making false reports to his authors would be a monstrosity. Yet the contention that Sir Walter Besant made in England for so many years, that the publishing business was conducted without such checks and verifications as are applied to other business transactions was true; and I, for one, see no practical remedy for it.

Moral: Select your publisher with care; make sure that he is honest (by far most of us are); then trust him. But steer clear of all “fake” publishers and “agents.”



Publishers Are Uncertain as to the Amount of Sales Made in That Way—How the Book Business Differs from the Shoe Trade, for Example—The Problem of How to Get the Books Before the People Is at the Root of All Other Book Trade Questions—Why the Book Canvasser Is Still Necessary—A Vast Field Waiting for Development.

About the advertising of books, nobody knows anything. The most that can be said is that some publishers are making very interesting experiments. But nobody has yet worked out a single general principle that is of great value. The publishers themselves frankly confess that they do not know how to advertise books—except a few publishers who have had little experience.

116 The fundamental difficulty of course is that hardly any two books present the same problem. Find a successful advertising plan for one book—it will not be a good plan for another. This fundamental difficulty marks the difference, for instance, between books and shoes. When a shoe merchant finds out by experiment how to describe his shoes and in what periodicals to print his description, his problem is solved. Recently several publishers discovered a successful way to advertise a novel. They tried the same plan with another novel and another. But it’s hit or miss. I, for one, would give much to know how often it has been “miss.”

The old-fashioned way was to insert a brief, simple, dignified announcement of every book, as is still done in The Spectator, of London, for example. Good; but such an announcement doesn’t go far. A very few thousand persons see it. They wait until the117 books are reviewed or till some friend or authority speaks about them. For this perfectly good reason some publishers do not insert many advertisements in those publications that go only to the literary class—they are to a degree superfluous. Those that are inserted are inserted to give the publishers and the books a certain “standing,” and to keep pleasant the relations between the publishers and these journals.

Then come, of course, the monthly popular magazines. They reach a very much wider class of readers, and to advertise books in them is a logical procedure. But their advertising rates are almost prohibitory. The margin of profit on books is very small. There is not money enough in the business to warrant extensive and expensive magazine advertising. The result is the publishers put their announcements of perhaps a dozen new books on a single advertising page of the magazines, and118 they cannot, in this restricted space, say enough about any particular book to make the advertisement effective.

Then there are the daily papers. One or two of the best dailies in every large city are used by the publishers for announcements of new books. They cannot afford more—except in the case of those novels which may reach enormous editions. Given a novel that will sell 100,000 copies or more, and you have enough possible profit to warrant a good deal of advertising. But during this calendar year only two novels (perhaps three) have new editions of more than 100,000 copies. What is a publisher to do, then, who has a novel that will sell 10,000 copies, or 20,000 copies and no more? Can he make it sell 50,000 or 100,000 by spending a large sum in advertising it? Perhaps, once in ten times, or once in twenty times; but not oftener.

Five or six publishing houses spend119 more than $50,000 a year, each, in advertising. Two spend a good deal more than this sum; and one is reported as saying that he spends $250,000. These are not large sums when compared with the sums spent for advertising other wares. But an advertisement of a shoe published to-day will help to sell that shoe next year. The shoemaker gets a cumulative effect. But your novel advertised to-day will be dead next year. You get no cumulative effect. When I say, therefore, that no publisher has mastered the art of advertising books, I tell the literal truth. They all run against a dead wall; and they will all tell you so in frank moments.

The study of the problem of advertising books takes one far afield. What quality in a book makes it popular anyhow? Even if you are wise enough to know that (and you are very wise if you do know that) the question arises whether advertising is necessary. There120 have been as many popular books sold in large editions without advertising as with it. If your book is really popular it may sell anyhow. I could make a long list of such books, and a still longer list of books that extensive advertising did not sell—books which seemed to their publishers to have the quality of great popularity.

The question carries us further back still. Let us take the analogy of the shoemaker again. He has shoe stores within reach of the whole population. There is not a village in the land where there is not a store in which shoes are sold. The manufacturers’ salesmen find this distributing machinery ready to their hands. If a man in Arkansas or in Montana or in Florida wants a pair of shoes, he is within reach of a place where he may buy them. Not so with books. There are few bookstores. Two or three per cent. of the population (perhaps less) live within convenient reach121 of bookshops. True, a book may be ordered by mail. But so may a pair of shoes. But this is not a good substitute for a store, where a man may see the book. The mail-order business will always be secondary to direct sales. But, since bookstores are so few, the book-distributing machinery is wholly inadequate. The publisher has no effective way yet to reach his normal public with his wares.

There is nobody to blame, perhaps. Surely, it would not be a profitable undertaking for any man or woman to buy a stock of books and to open a store in a small town. What is the remedy, then?

The simple truth is, here is one of the problems of distribution that have not yet been solved. There are throughout the land another one hundred thousand persons who would buy any novel of which one hundred thousand have been sold, if they could see the book and hear122 about it—if it were intelligently kept for sale where they would see it. This is a self-evident proposition. But nobody has yet found a way thus to distribute a book. And (this is the point) until better distributing machinery is organized, it will not pay publishers to advertise with as prodigal a hand as shoemakers and soapmakers use in making their wares known.

It is this lack of proper distributing machinery that has made possible the career of the book-agent. There are no shoe peddlers. Almost all the publishing houses—all the important houses—employ book peddlers. The business is generally regarded as a—nuisance, to say the most for it. But, from the publisher’s point of view, it is a necessity. And this is the crude way whereby it is sought to remedy the radical deficiency of proper distributing machinery. Of course, the book-agent method has its obvious disadvantages. It is not a dignified123 occupation, as most agents practise it. The most dignified members of the community, therefore, do not take it up. In every case it is not even the trustworthy members of the community that take it up. Again, the agent must be paid; and this is a very costly method (to the purchaser) of buying books. The purchaser pays half his money for the books; the other half for being persuaded to buy them.

And (to take a broad, economic view of the subject) the book peddler surely cannot be considered the final solution of the problem of a proper distribution of books. At some time in the future, when the country is three or four times as densely settled as it now is, there will be book stores in all towns. There may still be need for the persuasiveness of the agent, for some of the most successful of them now do their best work in cities within sight of good book shops. But the point is, few book-agents sell124 new books, and few of them sell single books: they usually sell books in sets. The problem, therefore, of the proper distribution of the four or five really good books that my publishing house has put out this fall still remains unsolved and, though I advertised them in all magazines and newspapers, I should not effectively reach the attention of one-fifth or one-tenth of the possible buyers of them. I should simply spend in advertising the profit that I may make on the copies that I sell with a reasonable publicity through the regular channels. I do insert advertisements of them for three or four reasons—with the hope of helping their sales; to keep the public informed of the activity of our publishing house; to please the press; and—to please the authors of the books. But I know very well that I am working (as every publisher is working) in a business that has not yet been developed, that is behind the economic organization125 of other kinds of manufacturing and selling, that awaits proper organization.

Figure it out yourself. Here is a book of which eighty thousand copies have been sold through “the trade;” that is, through the book stores. Our salesmen have visited every important bookseller from Portland, Me., to Portland, Ore., and from Duluth to New Orleans. We have spent quite a handsome sum in advertising it. Four-fifths of these eighty thousand copies were sold in a few months after its publication. The booksellers said that they could sell many more if we would advertise it more. We did so. By this time our salesmen were making another trip. No, they would not buy more, thank you; it is a little slow now. The second effort at advertising did not cause it to “move” in the market. The demand is slow yet. In other words, the demand for it that could be supplied by the existing book stores was practically126 exhausted. Our second advertising effort was a waste of money. We have frankly to confess that we do not know how to sell more copies of this book until the time comes when it may be put into a “set” and sold by book agents. This is the same as to say that, the few existing book stores utilized, there is no organized machinery for finding more buyers except the book agent.

Yet it is obvious that a wholesome book (as this is) which eighty thousand persons have bought would please eighty thousand other persons of like minds and taste if we had any way to find these second eighty thousand persons. They exist, of course. But they live out of easy reach of the book stores. The book agents will find them several years hence.

I have (I think) shown why there can never be a publishers’ trust, or “combine,” because the relation of the publisher and the author is a personal relation127 as intimate and personal as the relation of a physician to his patient or of a lawyer and his client. But, after a book has been sold and has become a commodity, the problem is a different one. The booksellers have perceived this; and they have made ineffective efforts to “combine.” They have failed because they have not made plans to widen the existing market. An organization of those that exist is not enough. The real problem is to extend their area, to find book-buyers whom they do not now reach.

Perhaps all this is very dull—this trade talk. But a publisher who is worthy of his calling regards himself as an educator of the public; and he has trade reasons and higher reasons as well for wishing to reach as many buyers of his good books as he possibly can. He knows (and you know, if you know the American people) that the masses even of intelligent folk have yet hardly fairly128 begun to buy books. Go where you will among the people and you will find few books—pitifully few. We are just coming into a period when book-buying is even beginning to become general. The publishers of a generation hence will sell perhaps ten times as many good books as are sold now—surely, if they find in their day distributing machinery even half adequate.



The Divers Problems Which Constantly Arise—Every Step of the Way Beset with Expense, So That the Publisher Is Amazed When He Finds a Surplus—Why Books of Large Sale Are Hard to Get—The Publisher as Anxious as the Public to Print Better Books.

The wonder is (and in my mind it grows every year) how the publishers of books make enough money to keep their shops going. When I look at my own ledgers (ledger, by the way, is become a mere literary word, for we now all keep accounts on cards and not in books)—whenever I look at my own cards and see a profit, I am astonished as much as I am gratified. Every other publisher in132 America, if he have a normal and simple mind such as fits the calling, has the same emotion. Let me say, lest I appear “simple” in another sense, that our cards have, miraculously enough, generally shown very satisfactory profits, but the astonishment never becomes less.

See what a long series of processes, or adventures, if you will, a book must go through between the writer and the reader; every step costs money; and the utmost possible profit is small. Suppose it be a novel. “Book” means “novel” these days in “literary” circles and journals. Heaven bless our shallow gabble called “reviews.” A novel comes to the publisher in fairly good English. The English doubtless is the author’s, but the punctuation and capitals are the “typewriter-lady’s” own. It must be read by one person; and, if that person’s report have a ray of hope, it must be read by another; perhaps by a third.133 These “readers” cost money—alas! too little money. They are generally literary persons who have failed, and there is something pathetic about their occupation. Then, after two or three readers have reported on it, I have to read it—in our particular shop, in any shop, somebody “higher up” must read it—especially if it come from a new writer.

Then we have to correspond with the author or have interviews with h—er. All this takes time, and the cost of this service rolls up. Somebody must next go over the manuscript to prepare it for the printer—to make sure that the heroine’s name is spelt the same way all through and so forth and so forth. With the processes of manufacture I need not weary you. Only I must say that a bad manuscript can be put into legible type, and that type cast into solid metal blocks ready for the press with a rapidity and cheapness that rank among the mechanical wonders of the world.

134 By this time the artist has appeared, if the novel is to be illustrated. Book salesmen will tell you that pictures help to sell novels, and they ought to know. But I venture to say that you haven’t seen three new novels in ten years whose illustrations conveyed anything but confusion to your mind. The conventional illustration of the conventional novel marks the lowest degradation of the present-day publisher. We confess by these things that we are without character or conviction. But the artist has the benefit of the commercial doubt on his side. He has also the vanity of the author. And he gets his fee—200, 300 or 500 good dollars or more—and the publisher pays the bill. Another artist makes a design for the cover.

Paper, printing, binding—all these are commonplaces, worthy of mention here only because they roll up the cost. But there are other steps in the book’s journey that the public knows less135 about. For instance, as soon as the first chapter has been put into type and a cover made, “dummies” of the book are got ready. A “dummy” of a book is a sort of model, or sample, of it. The cover is the cover that will appear on the finished novel; the titlepage is the novel’s titlepage; and the first chapter is as it will be when the book is published. But the rest is blank paper. This “dummy” shows the physical size and appearance of the book.

The travelling salesmen take these dummies and begin their work. They go to all the jobbers and book dealers, explaining to them the charming qualities of this newly discovered novelist, and taking orders for the books. By the time they come home and their advance orders are added up, the book is ready to go to press; and the publisher knows what his “first sale” will be. Meantime (not to lose the thread of my story) all this travelling and soliciting of orders136 have cost a good deal of money. The public has not yet seen a copy of the book nor even so much as heard of it nor of the “talented young author.”

But now the machinery for publicity is put in action. Sly little literary notes about the book and the author begin to appear in the newspapers. These, too, have come from the publisher. From whom else, pray, could they come? But they mean that the publisher has to maintain a literary bureau. The man who writes these news notes and the advertisements of the book and other things about it is a man of skill, if he do his work well; and he, too, costs the publisher a good salary. When he begins to put forth advertising—how much shall he spend on this new novel by an unknown writer? How much shall you risk at Monte Carlo? Your upright man will risk nothing at Monte Carlo. I have sometimes thought that your upright publisher, if there be one, would risk137 nothing in advertising a new book by an unknown writer, until the book began itself to show some vitality in the market.

But—to go back—as soon as the book is ready, review copies, of course, are sent to the newspapers and the literary journals (to appear a little later in the second-hand book-shops for sale at reduced prices.) All this activity requires clerks, typewriters, bookkeepers, postage-money—a large office, in fact. There are many posters, circulars—there is as much machinery required to sell a book as to sell a piano or an automobile.

From the starting-point, where the book was an ill-written manuscript, to the delivery of it to the bookseller, the publisher has less than 50 cents a copy to pay for this whole journey and to save something for profit if he can. Therefore I say that publishers who do succeed are among the most astute managers of industry.

138 Lest I seem to “boast rather than to confess,” I come back to the starting-point, which was this—that the publishers’ calling is not a very profitable one; not a profitable one at all except in fair weather and with a good skipper.

The truth is, publishing is too important a profession and our publishing houses are too important as institutions to be at the mercy of present conditions. The making of schoolbooks and the vending of standard old books in sets, which are useful vocations, but are not publishing proper, are now done best by firms and companies that do nothing else. Hence publishing proper—the bringing out of new books—must find a safer basis than the present conventional profit. It will find this safer basis in two ways.

The first and obvious way is to secure books that have an enormous popularity. This is the effort of nearly all the publishing houses to-day. If a novel139 reach an edition of 100,000 copies, there is a good profit in it as matters now stand. And a novel, or other book, that will be bought by 100,000 persons ought not to be sold for more than such books now fetch. But there are not enough such books to go around; and the least worthy publishing house is as likely to secure them as the most worthy. A permanent institution, therefore, cannot be built on these or on the hope of them. They are the accidents of the calling.

The other way to maintain a worthy publishing institution is to publish worthy books, to manufacture them well, to do every piece of work that is done on them or that is done for them in the most conscientious way—to keep bookmaking as a fine art, to keep bookselling a dignified profession, to keep the selection of books to publish on the high level of scholarly judgment. This done, a publisher may set his prices higher—must set his prices higher, for he does a140 higher and more costly service to society. Excellent and worthy of all praise as is some of the publishing work of this sort that is now done, a beginning has hardly yet been made. There is a demand, or a dormant demand can be awakened, for books that have merit (I mean new books as well as old) of better manufacture than we now often see. They must be sold for higher prices, of course.

This is the same as to say that just as a three-dollar shoe is made for most feet that tread this weary continent, but a five-dollar shoe is made for an increasing number of feet that prefer ease to economy, so we are becoming rich enough and wise enough to pay two dollars, or three dollars, or five dollars for a good new book that shall have large and beautiful type, good paper, good margins, good binding—shall be a work of art in its manufacture as well as in the quality of its contents. The public gets its good141 books too cheap; and the reason is plain.

It was only the other day that the publishers discovered the possibility of securing book after book that would run into large editions. A novel-reading democracy—a public-school democracy—is a new thing. It is an impressive thing. It made new and big markets, and we all rushed after it. Cheapness and great editions became the rage. Writers wrote for the million; publishers published for the million. Cheap books became the fashion. All very well—this widespread effort, this universal reading. But it has not radically changed human nature nor even the permanent foundations of the profession of publishing. We shall come back to higher and better work—some of us will, at least.

Bring the subject home to yourself. What do you want for your book money? Not the latest “big seller.” You may buy that to entertain you on a142 railway journey. But if you bring it home at all, you send it away at Christmas to some country library. What you want in your own library for your book-money are good books, made at least as well as the furniture in the room; and you want the new books of permanent value. You are sometimes disgusted when you look over the publishers’ catalogues to find so few books of this kind.

Your publishers, too, are becoming weary of having such catalogues; and as soon as we rediscover the old truth that there is a permanent demand for just the kind of books that you want, we shall turn to a more generous encouragement of them. Men who might do better work will then cease trying to write “best sellers.” But you must pay the price. Since you have become accustomed to buy new books at $1.50 a volume, you are somewhat reluctant to pay $2 or $4 for a new book. You must break yourself of that habit. In a word,143 you must become at least as generous to your publisher as you are to your shoemaker; and then the change will take place.

By a similar course of reasoning (and it is sound) you may discover that you are yourself to blame for what our writers write and our publishers publish—in a measure at least; and, whenever you want better books, better books will be ready for you. For the publisher and even the author are but human after all; and in the mood that has possessed us all for a decade or two—since presses and paper became so cheap—we have perhaps worshipped mere numbers. I have published some books only because thousands and thousands of persons would read them. You have read them simply because thousands of other people were reading them and for no better reason. Perhaps our sins have not been heinous. But, if you are so stubbornly virtuous as to cry shame at me, I promise144 you this: I will reform on the day that you yourself reform; but you must first signify repentance. For you—the public—are after all our masters.



In Spite of the Many Books Issued and the Many “Large Sellers,” the People Are Very Poorly Equipped with Good Books—Circulating Libraries and the Sale of Books—Many Neglected Subjects on Which Successful Books Could be Written—The Lack of Good Writers the Main Source of Poor Sale of Books.

How large the book market is, nobody knows. Still less does anybody know how large it may become, say, in another decade of our present prosperity and spread of intelligence. Beyond any doubt more books are bought in the United States than in any other country. Yet it is a constant surprise to discover how ill supplied the mass of the people are with good books. But the148 enormous increase of the market in recent years gives hope of a still greater increase to come. The number of books published every year in the United States and in the United Kingdom is about the same, but more American than English books run to large editions.

Leaving out fiction, which is the spectacular and sensational part of publishing, books of reference, of standard literature, of history, of applied science and even of poetry are sold in constantly increasing quantities. The public hears little of these because the literary journals pay little attention to them. There is, for instance, one publisher of subscription books who now adds few books to his list of which he does not expect to sell 100,000 copies. He has agents in every part of the United States, and they probably sell more books in a year than all the publishing houses in the United States put together sold thirty years ago—excluding textbooks, of149 course. Last year a literary man went to a remote railway station, 1,000 miles from Boston or New York, to shoot quail. One day he saw men unloading boxes of books from a freight car on the side track. The wonder was that there should be even a freight car in that corner of the woods; and that the freight car should be filled with books was simply incredible. But there were wagon loads of Thackerays, of Dickenses, of Eliots, and even of sets of the poets, fairly well-printed, fairly well-bound volumes which had been sold to the country folk for miles around. Perhaps there has been more money spent for encyclopædias and dictionaries than Noah Webster could compute, these last ten years. The book market, therefore, is very much bigger than persons who live outside the book selling world are likely to think.

Still, relatively it is small. The largest retail book store in the country is a department150 store in New York or Philadelphia; but the book department is not considered one of the important parts of the store. The much-abused department store, by the way, has done much to bring a new class of persons to acquire the book-buying habit. It has made books common merchandise for the first time. Since the “Century Dictionary,” to take a definite example, was thus made common merchandise, the sets of it that have been sold are incomparably more than were ever sold in any other way. Yet how small the book market yet is, is shown by this fact—that a novel of which one hundred thousand copies are sold reaches only one person in every eight thousand of the population.

Do circulating libraries lessen book sales? Yes, I dare say they do. But you will find that the publishers do not complain of them. They are disposed to accept the comforting doctrine that everything which encourages the reading of151 books in the end helps the sale of them. In the end—yes. But for the moment probably no.

One man will tell you that he used regularly to buy a novel a week—sometimes two novels. He was a pretty good customer of the publishers; for fifty-two novels a year is about as many as the most avaricious publisher could reasonably expect one man to buy. But now he says he does not buy three a year. A circulating library will for $5 bring him all he wants. The publishers have, therefore, lost him as a good customer. On the other hand it is a working theory that every subscriber to a circulating library who reads a novel and talks about it at the woman’s club may induce somebody to buy a copy who otherwise would never have heard of it. At any rate, the total number of novels, or of books of other sorts, now sold is not less than the number that was sold before the libraries found subscribers. The152 discussion is, after all, a vain one. The publisher and the author must do the best they can by the help of the libraries or in spite of them.

Yet I am sure that the great widening of the market for which we are all looking will be found, when it is found, not by any special machinery or mechanical device; but the person who will really find it—or make it—will be a great writer. Whenever books are written that are interesting enough to compel the attention of the whole people, the poorest publishing house can sell them. The secret of success, after all, is the secret of writing books that touch masses of men deeply and directly. We have much to learn from the careers of such books as “Progress and Poverty” and “Looking Backward.” They reached their great sale not by the ingenuity of their publishers, nor by their literary merit, but only because they carried messages to many minds. However153 delusive these messages may be, they were sincere. The truth is that the publisher (exalt him as I am trying my best to do) is, after all, only a piece of machinery. The real force that makes itself felt in the world that has to do with books is the initial force of the men and women who write. Whenever a great mind, or a great sympathy, be found which puts forth an appeal or a hope in the form of a book that has the power to touch those emotions or aspirations that all men have in common—then the trick’s done. The mechanical plans that we make have power to carry only as far as the book has strength to go. If I had five great living writers on my list, my publishing task would be easy.

For the broadening of the book market, then, what we need is writers—writers of the proper quality. Of novels, we have enough and to spare, such as they are. But not of good books154 of other sorts. Let us take a hint from the novel writers. Twenty years ago or less the American public was amusing itself with novels written by English writers. But about that time came those story tellers, a whole army of them, who began to write about life in different parts of our own country. Of New England, Miss Jewett and Miss Wilkins and Mrs. Austin and many more; in the Middle West, Mr. Garland, Mr. Churchill, Mr. Tarkington and half a hundred more; in New York, the author of “David Harum,” Mr. Frederick, Mr. Bacheller and others; of the South, Mr. Page, Miss Johnston, Miss Glasgow and more; and there are California stories in profusion. In other words, an army of men and women began about the same time to write stories of local history and manners.

Now there are other subjects that need to be written of just as much. One such subject is science. The world is155 flooded with popular books about science, but nearly all of them fail either in being accurate or in being popular. There is a better opportunity now than there ever was before for a man who really knows the most recent and scientific achievements, and who can write in the language of the people. To many people, “authoritative books” are dry books, but this is not what I mean. Such books as I have in mind can be written only by men of the best scientific equipment, but they can be written only by men who have also a great deal of literary skill.

Another great subject about which good books are needed is—you may not believe this—American history. Our political history has got itself pretty voluminously written, and there is no lack of slapdash books in distant imitation of Green’s “Short History of the English People.” But most of these have been prepared out of newspaper156 files by men who would not take their task seriously or who were not well prepared either in matured knowledge or in literary skill to produce them. Then, too, geographically considered, the history of less than one-fourth of our territory has not yet been written. Southern history, for example, is utterly unknown.

It would be easy to name a half-dozen other great subjects which writers who now bring their manuscripts to the publishing houses are neglecting. If, therefore, men and women who have the literary gift, even to a reasonable degree, and who have literary ambition, would frankly seek those two or three publishers who are real publishers and would prove their ability to do serious work of this sort they would be almost sure to find satisfactory careers before them. Of course, one disadvantage of such work is that during its early stages no very large financial returns can be expected.157 But if the work were done well enough it would pay in the end—pay more money by far than a professorship in science or in history or in literature pays.

All this leads me to this general remark—that the writing public does not take the trouble to find out who the real publishers are. There is a lack of coöperation between publishers and writers in what may be called the formative period of the writer’s lives. A man who writes a book sends it to some publishing house that is chosen by accident or by personal acquaintance or by whim. The public seems to think that one publishing house is as good as another. If a writer’s first volume in this way falls into the hands of a publisher who does not make the acquaintance of the writer, or who cannot make an appraisal of his ability and promise, and who does not understand him, then the writer, after an initial failure, of course, becomes discouraged.158 On the other hand, all the publishers are so eager to get books that they accept work which is not properly done, and on their part fail to put themselves into such a relation to young authors as would help them to their normal development.

If a man or woman, therefore, proposes to enter upon a literary career his first duty is to make the acquaintance of a real publisher, to be as frank with him as one must be with one’s physician or one’s lawyer. If two such men work together seriously and without too great haste the best results will be achieved for both, and the best results are not likely to come in any other way.

If you start, then, to gossip intelligently about the book market or about anything else with which a publisher has to do, and if you gossip long enough, you will come back to the starting point of the whole matter. What do we do or can we do to encourage the writing of159 good books? And now we’ve run on a subject as deep as a well and as wide as a door. In the multitude of counsellors about it there is confusion. In the only other “confession” that is to follow this I shall try to show how ignorant and mistaken all those are who differ with me about this fundamental subject.



It Pays the Author to Be Honest and Frank with His Publisher, Who Is, After All, His Best Friend—Some Recent Instances of a Discouraging Sort—The Need of Greater Dignity and Statesmanship Among Publishers—The Obligation of Ministering to the Higher Impulses of the People.

I am flattered by hearing that a prominent publishing house wishes to print these rambling “confessions” in a pamphlet, to send to persons who write books; “for,” says this house, “they tell some plain facts that authors ought to know.” I hope so; and, for my part, I am not averse to publishers knowing them either. For instance, the wretched smallness of one sinner among the publishers164 came to light to-day. Here is the unpleasant story:

A year and a half ago I published the first novel by a young author. He is a promising writer and his story was a good one. We sold it in fairly satisfactory numbers. We advertised it, “exploited” it—did the best we could. We invited the author to come and see us. We took him into our confidence. We have regarded him as our partner, so far as his book is concerned. We have had a continuous correspondence. We have exchanged visits a time or two. He paid me the compliment to ask my advice about his next story. We have become good friends, you see; and we are as helpful to each other as we know how to be. Now his second novel is finished. In a letter that came from him to-day he informed me that another publishing house (I have a great mind to write the name of it here) has made him a very handsome offer of serial publication,165 provided, of course, that they may also publish the book!

Now, if the young author wishes to go browsing in these new pastures, I have no power or wish to prevent him. I cannot serve him—or do not care to serve him—if he is unwilling that I should. But I was nevertheless very grateful when he wrote, “Of course, I prefer you. I hope you have never thought me unloyal.”

If publishing his first book had been a mere job done under contract, a commercial job and nothing more—that would have been one thing. But that’s not publishing. What I did was to give the man the unstinted service of our house, as publishers, as advisers, as friends. We print and advertise and sell his books—yes, to the very best of our ability. But we do more. We try to make friends for his book and for him throughout the reading world. We all take a personal interest in him and in166 his future. We invest our money, our good will, our work, our experience, our advice, our enthusiasm in him and in his future. This service (except the investment of money) is not a matter of contract. It is a personal, friendly service. If the service had not been successful, he would have had a perfect right to come and say that he feared that we did not serve him well and to go away from us. That would have been frank and honorable. Even, since we did succeed and have become friends, he could still go to another publisher. Yet, I maintain, if he had, he would have shown himself a man of blunt appreciation and dull honor. And the publisher who tried to win him away did a trick unworthy of the profession.

This is my last story about a publisher; and the moral is plain, alike to publisher and to author.

And now I will tell my last story167 about an author, the moral of which also is plain:

There is an author for whom we have published two books, and they have been uncommonly successful. A little while ago he finished his third book. He wrote that many publishers had solicited it, that he had had several handsome offers, that he needed a large sum of money. Would we make a big advance payment? He disliked to mention the subject, but business was business after all. Now I had been at that man’s service for several years. Day and night, he had sought my advice.

Well, we were cajoled into making a big advance payment—about half as big as he first asked for; and the contract was signed. Two days later, I met another publisher under conditions which invited free and friendly talk; and I told him this story. The publisher smiled and declared that that author had approached him and asked168 how much he would give for this very book!

Men and brethren, we live in a commercial age. I suspect that, if we knew history well enough, we should discover that all ages have been commercial, and that all our predecessors had experiences like these. For ungrateful men have written books for many a century, I have no doubt; and we know that Barabbas was a publisher. But let us lift an honorable calling to an honorable level. Hence these frank “confessions.” And, if any publisher wishes to reprint them to send to authors, or any author to send to publishers, they both have my permission. For dignity and honor thrive best in an atmosphere of perfect frankness.

Thinking over the behavior of authors and publishers to one another, I am obliged to confess that, while the peanut methods that I have just described are not common enough to cause us to169 despair, the truth is that the whole business is yet somewhat unworthily conducted. I mean that it is conducted on too low a plane. For what is it that we are engaged in?

The writers of good books are among the greatest benefactors of society; and the publishers of good books, if publishing be worthily regarded and properly done, is a necessary and complimentary service. The publisher is the partner, the helper of the author and his high servant or minister to the people. It is work worthy of large men and of high-minded men. Honest men we are—those of us who conduct the publishing houses that are in good repute. But I sometimes think that we miss being large men; for we do not do our business in (shall I say?) a statesmanlike way. We imitate the manners of tradesmen. We speak in the vocabulary of tradesmen. We are too likely to look at small projects as important—to pay170 our heed to the mere tricks of our trade—and to treat large enterprises, if we have them, as if they were but a part of the routine. A good book is a Big Thing, a thing to be thankful to heaven for. It is a great day for any of us when we can put our imprint on it. Here is a chance for reverence, for something like consecration. And the man or the woman who can write a good book is a form of capital infinitely more attractive than a large bank account or a great publishing “plant.” Yet, if we regard an author simply as “capital,” we are not worthy to serve him. The relation leads naturally to a friendly and helpful attitude. We know something about books, about the book-market, about the public, that no author is likely to know. With this knowledge we can serve those that write. And with our knowledge of the author and of his work, we can serve the public. It is our habit to keep our accounts with authors accurately,171 to pay them promptly, to receive them courteously when they call, to answer their letters politely and sometimes to bore them with formal dinners at our clubs, before they sail for Europe. But how many of us really know the intellectual life of any author whose books we print and supply a stimulus to his best plans?

And the authors? How little they know about us or about publishing! They seem to select publishers by whims and not often by knowledge. I know a writer of good books who is at this moment seeking his third publisher. One of the others failed. The other displeased him. And now he is thinking of giving his next book to a third publisher who also will fail within five years, or I am no prophet. Yet I am hindered by courtesy from telling him so. Why the man has not by this time found a personality among the publishers who has a soundly constructed business172 and at the same time a helpful intellectual appreciation of his work, I cannot understand. He, too, is looking at a great matter in a small way.

Therefore I am led to write down these rules for an author to follow when he looks for a publisher:

Find out whether the publishing house that you have in mind be financially sound. The commercial agencies will tell you, or will tell any commercial friend who may make inquiry for you. And find out who the real owners of the house are.

Then find out who conducts it. If it is conducted by a lot of hired “literary” men, avoid it. They are, most of them, men who have failed at authorship; they “read” and “advise” for salaries; and most of them know nothing about the houses that they serve. They are not principals, but (as Henry George once called them) “literary operatives.” I mean to say nothing harsh about a173 well-meaning, hard-working class of men. But if you have a good book, you wish to find not a “literary operative,” but a real publisher.

Having found a real publisher, you will expect him to read your book himself. I am assuming that you have an important book. When he has read it, he will talk to you about it frankly. When I say frankly, I mean frankly. If he is himself a real man and knows men and books, he will not retail hack literary phrases to you. He will talk good English and good sense straight out of his intelligence to your intelligence, with no nonsense such as reviewers write in the “literary” magazines. He will become your intellectual friend.

Having found such a man, give him your book and leave him to work out the details of publishing. He will be proud to serve you. You will discover as your acquaintance ripens, that he has your whole career as a writer in his mind174 and plans. He will shape his whole publishing activities to your development and to the development of other writers like you.

Then—if you are capable of writing great books—you will discover that you have set only natural forces at work for your growth and for your publisher’s growth; and the little artificial tricks of the trade whereby a flashy story has a “run”—into swift oblivion—will pass from your mind and from his. You will both be doing your best work.

After all, the authors of any generation generally have the publishers that they deserve to have; and this axiom is reversible. For my part, while I am as glad as Podunk, Exploitem & Company to have novels that will sell 100,000 copies, provided they give clean and decent amusement, I take no permanent interest in anything that comes this month and goes the next; nor does any serious man. My wish and aim is to175 become a helpful partner of some of the men and women of my generation who can, by their writings, lay the great democracy that we all serve under obligations to them for a new impulse. By serving them, I, too, serve my country and my time. And, when I say that this is my aim and wish, I could say with equal truth that it is the aim and wish of every other real publisher. But, as every good physician constantly wonders at the ignorance and credulity of otherwise sensible men who seek quacks, so I wonder at the simplicity of many respectable writers of books in seeking publishers. Of downright quacks in the publishing world, there are not many. But there are incompetents a-plenty and a fair share of adventurers.

We shall both—authors and publishers—get the proper cue if we regard the swarming, eager democracy all about us as a mass of constantly rising men and women, ambitious to grow, with the176 same higher impulses that we feel in our best moods; and if we interpret our duty as the high privilege of ministering to these higher impulses and not to their lower senses, without commercialism on one side and without academicism on the other, men among men, worthy among the worthy, we may make our calling under such a conception a calling that leads.

Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

Redundant chapter titles were removed by Transcriber.

End of Project Gutenberg's A Publisher's Confession, by Walter Hines Page


***** This file should be named 54892-h.htm or *****
This and all associated files of various formats will be found in:

Produced by Charlie Howard and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)

Updated editions will replace the previous one--the old editions will
be renamed.

Creating the works from print editions not protected by U.S. copyright
law means that no one owns a United States copyright in these works,
so the Foundation (and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United
States without permission and without paying copyright
royalties. Special rules, set forth in the General Terms of Use part
of this license, apply to copying and distributing Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works to protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm
concept and trademark. Project Gutenberg is a registered trademark,
and may not be used if you charge for the eBooks, unless you receive
specific permission. If you do not charge anything for copies of this
eBook, complying with the rules is very easy. You may use this eBook
for nearly any purpose such as creation of derivative works, reports,
performances and research. They may be modified and printed and given
away--you may do practically ANYTHING in the United States with eBooks
not protected by U.S. copyright law. Redistribution is subject to the
trademark license, especially commercial redistribution.



To protect the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting the free
distribution of electronic works, by using or distributing this work
(or any other work associated in any way with the phrase "Project
Gutenberg"), you agree to comply with all the terms of the Full
Project Gutenberg-tm License available with this file or online at

Section 1. General Terms of Use and Redistributing Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works

1.A. By reading or using any part of this Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work, you indicate that you have read, understand, agree to
and accept all the terms of this license and intellectual property
(trademark/copyright) agreement. If you do not agree to abide by all
the terms of this agreement, you must cease using and return or
destroy all copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in your
possession. If you paid a fee for obtaining a copy of or access to a
Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work and you do not agree to be bound
by the terms of this agreement, you may obtain a refund from the
person or entity to whom you paid the fee as set forth in paragraph

1.B. "Project Gutenberg" is a registered trademark. It may only be
used on or associated in any way with an electronic work by people who
agree to be bound by the terms of this agreement. There are a few
things that you can do with most Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works
even without complying with the full terms of this agreement. See
paragraph 1.C below. There are a lot of things you can do with Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works if you follow the terms of this
agreement and help preserve free future access to Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic works. See paragraph 1.E below.

1.C. The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation ("the
Foundation" or PGLAF), owns a compilation copyright in the collection
of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works. Nearly all the individual
works in the collection are in the public domain in the United
States. If an individual work is unprotected by copyright law in the
United States and you are located in the United States, we do not
claim a right to prevent you from copying, distributing, performing,
displaying or creating derivative works based on the work as long as
all references to Project Gutenberg are removed. Of course, we hope
that you will support the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting
free access to electronic works by freely sharing Project Gutenberg-tm
works in compliance with the terms of this agreement for keeping the
Project Gutenberg-tm name associated with the work. You can easily
comply with the terms of this agreement by keeping this work in the
same format with its attached full Project Gutenberg-tm License when
you share it without charge with others.

1.D. The copyright laws of the place where you are located also govern
what you can do with this work. Copyright laws in most countries are
in a constant state of change. If you are outside the United States,
check the laws of your country in addition to the terms of this
agreement before downloading, copying, displaying, performing,
distributing or creating derivative works based on this work or any
other Project Gutenberg-tm work. The Foundation makes no
representations concerning the copyright status of any work in any
country outside the United States.

1.E. Unless you have removed all references to Project Gutenberg:

1.E.1. The following sentence, with active links to, or other
immediate access to, the full Project Gutenberg-tm License must appear
prominently whenever any copy of a Project Gutenberg-tm work (any work
on which the phrase "Project Gutenberg" appears, or with which the
phrase "Project Gutenberg" is associated) is accessed, displayed,
performed, viewed, copied or distributed:

  This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and
  most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no
  restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it
  under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this
  eBook or online at If you are not located in the
  United States, you'll have to check the laws of the country where you
  are located before using this ebook.

1.E.2. If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is
derived from texts not protected by U.S. copyright law (does not
contain a notice indicating that it is posted with permission of the
copyright holder), the work can be copied and distributed to anyone in
the United States without paying any fees or charges. If you are
redistributing or providing access to a work with the phrase "Project
Gutenberg" associated with or appearing on the work, you must comply
either with the requirements of paragraphs 1.E.1 through 1.E.7 or
obtain permission for the use of the work and the Project Gutenberg-tm
trademark as set forth in paragraphs 1.E.8 or 1.E.9.

1.E.3. If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is posted
with the permission of the copyright holder, your use and distribution
must comply with both paragraphs 1.E.1 through 1.E.7 and any
additional terms imposed by the copyright holder. Additional terms
will be linked to the Project Gutenberg-tm License for all works
posted with the permission of the copyright holder found at the
beginning of this work.

1.E.4. Do not unlink or detach or remove the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License terms from this work, or any files containing a part of this
work or any other work associated with Project Gutenberg-tm.

1.E.5. Do not copy, display, perform, distribute or redistribute this
electronic work, or any part of this electronic work, without
prominently displaying the sentence set forth in paragraph 1.E.1 with
active links or immediate access to the full terms of the Project
Gutenberg-tm License.

1.E.6. You may convert to and distribute this work in any binary,
compressed, marked up, nonproprietary or proprietary form, including
any word processing or hypertext form. However, if you provide access
to or distribute copies of a Project Gutenberg-tm work in a format
other than "Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other format used in the official
version posted on the official Project Gutenberg-tm web site
(, you must, at no additional cost, fee or expense
to the user, provide a copy, a means of exporting a copy, or a means
of obtaining a copy upon request, of the work in its original "Plain
Vanilla ASCII" or other form. Any alternate format must include the
full Project Gutenberg-tm License as specified in paragraph 1.E.1.

1.E.7. Do not charge a fee for access to, viewing, displaying,
performing, copying or distributing any Project Gutenberg-tm works
unless you comply with paragraph 1.E.8 or 1.E.9.

1.E.8. You may charge a reasonable fee for copies of or providing
access to or distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works
provided that

* You pay a royalty fee of 20% of the gross profits you derive from
  the use of Project Gutenberg-tm works calculated using the method
  you already use to calculate your applicable taxes. The fee is owed
  to the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark, but he has
  agreed to donate royalties under this paragraph to the Project
  Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation. Royalty payments must be paid
  within 60 days following each date on which you prepare (or are
  legally required to prepare) your periodic tax returns. Royalty
  payments should be clearly marked as such and sent to the Project
  Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation at the address specified in
  Section 4, "Information about donations to the Project Gutenberg
  Literary Archive Foundation."

* You provide a full refund of any money paid by a user who notifies
  you in writing (or by e-mail) within 30 days of receipt that s/he
  does not agree to the terms of the full Project Gutenberg-tm
  License. You must require such a user to return or destroy all
  copies of the works possessed in a physical medium and discontinue
  all use of and all access to other copies of Project Gutenberg-tm

* You provide, in accordance with paragraph 1.F.3, a full refund of
  any money paid for a work or a replacement copy, if a defect in the
  electronic work is discovered and reported to you within 90 days of
  receipt of the work.

* You comply with all other terms of this agreement for free
  distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm works.

1.E.9. If you wish to charge a fee or distribute a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work or group of works on different terms than
are set forth in this agreement, you must obtain permission in writing
from both the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation and The
Project Gutenberg Trademark LLC, the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm
trademark. Contact the Foundation as set forth in Section 3 below.


1.F.1. Project Gutenberg volunteers and employees expend considerable
effort to identify, do copyright research on, transcribe and proofread
works not protected by U.S. copyright law in creating the Project
Gutenberg-tm collection. Despite these efforts, Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic works, and the medium on which they may be stored, may
contain "Defects," such as, but not limited to, incomplete, inaccurate
or corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other
intellectual property infringement, a defective or damaged disk or
other medium, a computer virus, or computer codes that damage or
cannot be read by your equipment.

of Replacement or Refund" described in paragraph 1.F.3, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, the owner of the Project
Gutenberg-tm trademark, and any other party distributing a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work under this agreement, disclaim all
liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including legal

defect in this electronic work within 90 days of receiving it, you can
receive a refund of the money (if any) you paid for it by sending a
written explanation to the person you received the work from. If you
received the work on a physical medium, you must return the medium
with your written explanation. The person or entity that provided you
with the defective work may elect to provide a replacement copy in
lieu of a refund. If you received the work electronically, the person
or entity providing it to you may choose to give you a second
opportunity to receive the work electronically in lieu of a refund. If
the second copy is also defective, you may demand a refund in writing
without further opportunities to fix the problem.

1.F.4. Except for the limited right of replacement or refund set forth
in paragraph 1.F.3, this work is provided to you 'AS-IS', WITH NO

1.F.5. Some states do not allow disclaimers of certain implied
warranties or the exclusion or limitation of certain types of
damages. If any disclaimer or limitation set forth in this agreement
violates the law of the state applicable to this agreement, the
agreement shall be interpreted to make the maximum disclaimer or
limitation permitted by the applicable state law. The invalidity or
unenforceability of any provision of this agreement shall not void the
remaining provisions.

1.F.6. INDEMNITY - You agree to indemnify and hold the Foundation, the
trademark owner, any agent or employee of the Foundation, anyone
providing copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in
accordance with this agreement, and any volunteers associated with the
production, promotion and distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic works, harmless from all liability, costs and expenses,
including legal fees, that arise directly or indirectly from any of
the following which you do or cause to occur: (a) distribution of this
or any Project Gutenberg-tm work, (b) alteration, modification, or
additions or deletions to any Project Gutenberg-tm work, and (c) any
Defect you cause.

Section 2. Information about the Mission of Project Gutenberg-tm

Project Gutenberg-tm is synonymous with the free distribution of
electronic works in formats readable by the widest variety of
computers including obsolete, old, middle-aged and new computers. It
exists because of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and donations
from people in all walks of life.

Volunteers and financial support to provide volunteers with the
assistance they need are critical to reaching Project Gutenberg-tm's
goals and ensuring that the Project Gutenberg-tm collection will
remain freely available for generations to come. In 2001, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation was created to provide a secure
and permanent future for Project Gutenberg-tm and future
generations. To learn more about the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation and how your efforts and donations can help, see
Sections 3 and 4 and the Foundation information page at Section 3. Information about the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is a non profit
501(c)(3) educational corporation organized under the laws of the
state of Mississippi and granted tax exempt status by the Internal
Revenue Service. The Foundation's EIN or federal tax identification
number is 64-6221541. Contributions to the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation are tax deductible to the full extent permitted by
U.S. federal laws and your state's laws.

The Foundation's principal office is in Fairbanks, Alaska, with the
mailing address: PO Box 750175, Fairbanks, AK 99775, but its
volunteers and employees are scattered throughout numerous
locations. Its business office is located at 809 North 1500 West, Salt
Lake City, UT 84116, (801) 596-1887. Email contact links and up to
date contact information can be found at the Foundation's web site and
official page at

For additional contact information:

    Dr. Gregory B. Newby
    Chief Executive and Director

Section 4. Information about Donations to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation

Project Gutenberg-tm depends upon and cannot survive without wide
spread public support and donations to carry out its mission of
increasing the number of public domain and licensed works that can be
freely distributed in machine readable form accessible by the widest
array of equipment including outdated equipment. Many small donations
($1 to $5,000) are particularly important to maintaining tax exempt
status with the IRS.

The Foundation is committed to complying with the laws regulating
charities and charitable donations in all 50 states of the United
States. Compliance requirements are not uniform and it takes a
considerable effort, much paperwork and many fees to meet and keep up
with these requirements. We do not solicit donations in locations
where we have not received written confirmation of compliance. To SEND
DONATIONS or determine the status of compliance for any particular
state visit

While we cannot and do not solicit contributions from states where we
have not met the solicitation requirements, we know of no prohibition
against accepting unsolicited donations from donors in such states who
approach us with offers to donate.

International donations are gratefully accepted, but we cannot make
any statements concerning tax treatment of donations received from
outside the United States. U.S. laws alone swamp our small staff.

Please check the Project Gutenberg Web pages for current donation
methods and addresses. Donations are accepted in a number of other
ways including checks, online payments and credit card donations. To
donate, please visit:

Section 5. General Information About Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works.

Professor Michael S. Hart was the originator of the Project
Gutenberg-tm concept of a library of electronic works that could be
freely shared with anyone. For forty years, he produced and
distributed Project Gutenberg-tm eBooks with only a loose network of
volunteer support.

Project Gutenberg-tm eBooks are often created from several printed
editions, all of which are confirmed as not protected by copyright in
the U.S. unless a copyright notice is included. Thus, we do not
necessarily keep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper

Most people start at our Web site which has the main PG search

This Web site includes information about Project Gutenberg-tm,
including how to make donations to the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation, how to help produce our new eBooks, and how to
subscribe to our email newsletter to hear about new eBooks.