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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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“How about your taking ten per cent for as little as one day's work, thus netting you on a big deal as much as fifty or sixty thousand dollars?" They change the subject mighty quickly! It always depends on who's being stabbed. So I'm trying to be objective in saying that everybody is guilty at one time or another of some stupidity or cupidity. It works out in the long-run. That's why free competition is so important. You can tell it when you're riding on an airline with no competition. You get a stale sandwich for lunch and the plane's two hours late; but where there are two lines competing, you get steak and arrive on the minute.

The same thing happened with paperbacks. Now, some publishers are quietly breaking the fifteen per cent royalty rule, too. We have never done it. Most publishers haven't done it, but I know one or two very respectable publishers who, to lure an author, will make him a special deal. We all know about it. But when it came to the fifty-fifty split on reprint rights, it seemed to me that beyond a certain point the publisher didn't deserve fifty per cent any more than the agent deserved ten per cent. I think the publisher should get half up to, say, $50,000 guarantee. After that, the publisher should be satisfied with one-third while the author takes twothirds. We were among the first to tell the Authors League that this was what we proposed to do. We not only did it on new contracts; but with our important authors, once we had done it with one, we rewrote several old contracts.

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