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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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