April 14, 1950
Mr. Alan C. Collins
Curtis Brown, Ltd.
347 Madison Avenue
New York 17, N. Y.
Thank you very much for undertaking to send the flowers to Archie. If you think roses will be best, then let’s make it two dozen of the reddest and most dramatic ones you can find. I am very grateful that you will do this for me, as I find that ordering flowers by wire is not very satisfactory.
In regard to your letter of April 6, I must say that I am puzzled by Appleton’s offer for my next novel. If you will look up your letter to me of February 1, 1946, you will see what offer they made at that time. It was $125,000, to be split into a $100,000 advance and $25,000 guaranteed advertising, or $75,000 advance and $50,000 advertising.
Why are they now offering me less than half of their former offer? Have general prices changed so much in the publishing business? If so, what are the largest advances and advertising guarantees which have been made within the last year and to what authors?
I suspect that Appleton have decided that they can use my desire to work with Archie, for the purpose of getting me at less than my market value. If so, I would like you to correct them in their calculations. Of course, I do not want to commit myself to any actual business deal until the novel is finished. Then I will have to give first chance to Bobbs-Merrill. If Bobbs-Merrill and I do not agree on terms then I would rather go to Appleton in order to work with Archie—but only if Appleton
April 14, 1950 2.
consider my new novel as a major property and act accordingly. If, for any reason, they feel in doubt about the novel and do not want to go all out for it, then they are not the publishers for me. I will judge their attitude, not by personal assurances, but by the material terms of the offer they make. If they offer me less than the top market price which we can reasonably expect, then I will not consider them, because I cannot sacrifice the practical fate of the book to my personal pleasure of working with Archie.
I think that Appleton may derive a practical advantage from the fact of having Archie as editor in the following manner: whereas, their former offer was above the market, as a special inducement for me to choose them above any other publisher—now they don’t have to offer me more than the market, since I have a very strong reason to prefer them to any other house; therefore, they can have me, if I leave Bobbs-Merrill, for my market price or perhaps even a little less. But they cannot offer me way less than what I have a right to expect. Please make it clear to them that their commercial estimate of my next book and their literary estimate have to match, and that I will not go with any publisher on second rate terms.
There is an illogical discrepancy in their offer. If they have a first printing of 100,000 copies and they give me a flat 15% royalty, and since the book will probably sell for $3.50, then my royalties on that first printing should be $52,000. Why do they offer less than half of that?
As I said, I prefer not to commit myself to any business deal until the novel is finished and I am not free to do it anyway until after Bobbs-Merrill have had their chance. But I know that Archie and Appleton are anxious to have some sort of understanding about my future and, personally, I would like to be with Archie again. But if Appleton want to discuss matters now, in a general or preliminary way, then I think that they had better clarify their attitude. With best regards.