December 30, 1950
Mr. Alan C. Collins
Curtis Brown, Ltd.
347 Madison Avenue
New York 17, New York
Thank you for your letter of December 21. The lapse in my correspondence was due to the great event that on the night of December 22, at 3 a.m. to be exact, I finished Part I of my new novel. I am sure that at this point you will say: “Oh hell, only Part I!” But I will wait, for my vindication, until you read the completed novel, and then you will believe me what a job this was and that I have not taken too long for the kind of work it represents. Part I is 1,382 pages long (I’ll let you figure out how many average-length novels this is). Part I represents about two-thirds to three-quarters of the whole novel in length, therefore Part II will not take me too long.[*]
I have neglected all my business correspondence for about the last three months in order to finish this Part I and am just coming up for air. Will you please explain this to Miss Burton and Mrs. Byrne and apologize to them for me, since I have not answered their letters about NIGHT OF JANUARY 16TH? I am very anxious not to have them think me rude, so may I count on you to convey my apology? It just happened that this was the one period in many years when I had to neglect all business.
A complicating matter was the fact that Armitage Watkins has not yet sent to me the letter of agreement which he was supposed to send. I am enclosing a copy of my letter to him, which will give you the terms of this agreement. I discussed it and settled it with him on his visit here on October 5, but I have not heard from him since.
I would like very much to have you take over all these properties, as I have not been too happy about the manner in which they were handled by the Ann Watkins office. The most important one of them is my first novel, WE, THE LIVING. It was published here by MacMillan in 1936, but the American publishing rights have reverted to me. There is now a
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great demand for this novel. I keep getting letters about it constantly, and Bobbs-Merrill have been after me for several years to let them issue a new American edition of it. I have refused, because I don’t want to have it issued as a follow-up to THE FOUNTAINHEAD, since, being an earlier novel, it would be an anti-climax at present. But I want it to be reissued shortly after my new novel is published, and I would like to make arrangements for it at the time I sign the contract for the new novel, whether it will be with Bobbs-Merrill or another publisher.[**] Therefore it will be much better if both novels are handled by you.
Now as to the questions in regard to NIGHT OF JANUARY 16TH: the offer for the Spanish production, as stated in Mrs. Byrne’s letter of December 13, will be acceptable to me, if she finds it acceptable. I agree that we should take a flat fee in American dollars rather than a percentage, in the case of any country where exchange restrictions don’t permit us to collect our money.
Please do order new sides typed for NIGHT OF JANUARY 16TH and charge it to me. Since there is not too much active business on this play, I wonder whether a typed set of sides will be sufficient. But if Mrs. Byrne feels that we need to have them mimeographed, then please do so.
In regard to Marion Saunders and the foreign rights to THE FOUNTAINHEAD, it was my understanding with Armitage Watkins that she would continue to handle the active contracts and also conclude such deals as she may have under discussion, but that she will turn over to you all the remaining rights to such countries where she has not negotiated any publication for the book. To tell the truth, I am not too pleased with the way the foreign rights to THE FOUNTAINHEAD have been handled. For instance, there are three contracts which I can name off hand, for Argentina, Brazil, and Holland, which were made several years ago, the dates of which have lapsed—and yet I have received no word from Miss Saunders about whether I may expect publication or whether we should cancel these contracts and sell these rights to other publishers in those countries. Would you ask the person in charge of your foreign department to look into this situation for me? If you find that Miss Saunders has done all right and has covered the whole market efficiently, then I would have no objection to letting her continue with any future, smaller foreign contracts that may come up for THE FOUNTAINHEAD. But if, as
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I am inclined to suspect, she has not covered the market and has neglected too many possibilities, then I would like very much to have you take it over. I will leave this to your judgment, since I have no way to judge the foreign market situation for myself.
With my best wishes for a happy new year,
*What is noted here as Part II ended up as Part III in the published novel.
**We the Living was reissued by Random House in 1959.