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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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Oh, there were lots of them, but usually the author wouldn't allow them to be edited. What infuriates me is when you read in a review: “Why wasn't the publisher doing his job?" Usually the publisher shed blood trying to get the author to make changes, and the author refused. The author is the last word in publishing. When you sell a story to the movies or television they can do anything they want with it, but the author of a book has the last word. The only alternative you have is to say, “I won't publish it at all.” If he says, “I won't take this out,” you leave it in or you don't publish the book.

The time that a publisher can be helpful is with a young author who will listen, who hasn't gotten too big for his boots yet. For instance, an unknown named Mac Hyman once brought in a book to us that had been turned down by three or four other publishers. Our Bob Linscott read it and said, “I think this book is terribly funny, but it's much too long.” It concerned the Korean War. I took it home and read it and I have never laughed harder at a book. I had to put it down three or four times, just choking with laughter. Of course we grabbed the book, and we persuaded the author to throw the entire last half of it out. We cut the book absolutely in half, and I thought of a good name for the book: No Time for Sergeants. It turned out to be one of the great successes of the past ten years. What a fortune young Mac Hyman made on it! First of all, it was a Book-of-the-Month selection, then number one for months on

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