Imágenes de páginas

in reply, which saved me from the clutches of breach of promise case, that she had nothing the respectable A. and B., and quite decided me

written to prove a betrothal, nor had the defendant that it was better posterity should suffer from the ever spoken to her, but that “looks had passed loss of my book, than that I should suffer from the between them.” Many men seem to think that loss of my money.

if they have only looked at a subject it is their I may add that the above are a few of the ex- property for ever. periences to which any beginner is liable when If there were a real guild of literary men holding acting without advice. In my successful under- and exercising power-such as the Society of takings I have been fortunate enough to fall into Authors may become—this great evil of "the the hands of one of the most honourable members unlucky chance," or cursed coincidence, could of the profession.

really be obviated. For it could declare thieves and plagiarists “niddering” or infamous, and by establishing and exacting a high code of honour it could eliminate much of the disreputable Bohemianism or carelessness as to morals from the profession of letters.

And if it be not really a “CURSED COINCIDENCES.”

profession it would soon become one by the

simple process ou outlawing all who disgrace London, June 10, 1890. it. For in fact the dishonest writer is as great an There is a source of great annoyance and injury to his betters in the craft as the dishonest pecuniary loss to authors for which it is possible publisher, and deserves even greater punishment. that some remedy may be found by your aid. I A few cases of flagrant meanness vigorously exposed can best set it forth by stating the simple fact that would soon end the career of many literary every one of the last six works which I have sharpers. written, or on which I have collaborated, has been

CHARLES G. LELAND. met or anticipated by a similar publication on the same subject; in every instance to my own detriment and annoyance, or that of others. In some of these cases the coincidence was doubtless accidental; and I am satisfied that the authors of the books were as ignorant that I was engaged on a like work, as I was of their intentions. Could we have known

THE EXCHANGE OF BOOKS. it I am sure that we should have been spared in one way or the other great trouble, loss, and

OULD it be possible to open a Book vexation.

Exchange in the pages of The Author ? It is true that such an extraordinary run of bad

I am myself continually compelled to luck savours of the marvellous; but if anyone who buy books which serve their purpose and are hencereads this suspects ine of mistake or exaggeration,

forth of no more use to me. I buy them not for I shall be glad to supply him with all the details, their rarity but for their practical use. Others there and refer him to my publishers, who will fully are who are always looking out for the completion confirm my assertions. But the history of literature of sets or the improvement of collections, for first is full of instances of men who, after devoting editions, for books specially bound, for books months or years to a work, have had the sorrow to privately printed (of which a certain second-hand learn that another had been engaged in a similar

bookseller is now bringing out a catalogue). task.

Everybody who wants books depend upon those The very obvious remedy for this among honour- excellent people, the second-hand booksellers and able men would be for authors to announce their their lists. They depend upon the people who, intentions, and make it known in your columns like myself, are always wanting to get rid of books. what they are actually engaged on and really Why cannot The Author give us space, if only intend to publish. On the other hand, there are a page, to advertise our wants and our wares? innumerable hacks and quacks in literature who Members of the Society should, perhaps, be would avail themselves of these very announce

allowed to take up a certain space for the mere ments to “hurry up ” works on the same subjects,

cost of the printing and paper.

Other people to say nothing of the half-honest scribes who would might be made to pay for the privilege at such a pre-empt a subject by declaring that they are rate as would assist the finances of the paper. engaged on it—the engagement being like that of Can my suggestion find a corner ? the American young wornan who admitted, in a

F. R. S.


The average

would take 10 per cent. on the trade price; a LEAFLET No. II.

third, and this was the most happy discovery of all, that his men would take 10 per cent., to begin

when a great number of copies had been first sold. ON ROYALTIES.

In the forthcoming work on “Methods of THAT is loosely and ignorantly called

Publication,” the author prints a table which “The Royalty System”-a system where

shows the working of the system and the results to all is chaos—may be defined as pay

author and publisher. ment by results. It came into existence chiefly

He takes as an example an ordinary novel in as a sop to authors who were discontented with

one volume, sold at 6s., a very common form of the so-called half-profit system, after it had been

book at this day. These six shilling novels vary worked into a system which gave all the profits considerably in length, running from 70,000 words to the publisher. “At least,” they thought, “ there

to 180,000 words-or even more. will be something for us if we are to have so much

length, however, may be taken as from 70,000 to for every copy sold.” They therefore signed any

100,000 words. agreement in this sense that was placed in their

The cost of producing such a work is, with a hands without asking what it meant—what the

liberal allowance for advertising, as follows : proposed arrangement kept for the publisher and (1) For the first 1,000 copies nearly £100. what it would give them. They signed what they (2) For the second edition of 3,000 copies, were told to sign, and they took what was offered

£120, or with a liberal increase of adverthem. They began to sign these royalty agreements

tising, £150. about twenty years ago, when the “system” first (3) If the success be so great as to justify a large came into use. They have continued to sign edition of 10,000, the cost of production of them; they are signing them every day, and it is this edition would be about £360, or with not too much to say that not one single author up increased advertising say £400, to this day of writing, outside the office of the

(4) The trade price of the book varies from Society, knows when he signs, what he has kept 35. 4d. to 35. 8d. We may fairly take it at for himself, or what proportion of the results of his labour he has given to the man who sells his book.

The trade price is generally arrived at by In accordance with the principles of this Society,

taking two-thirds of the published price and which endeavours to throw light upon everything allowing thirteen copies as twelve. In the connected with the production and sale of books,

case of the great distributing houses an or in other words, enables authors to understand additional 10 per cent. is allowed. There exactly what they give away and what they reserve

are also cases in which lower terms are —what, in fact, an agreement means—the Leaflet

given for special reasons. Many copies, of this month is devoted to a very brief statement of however, are sold at a higher price. the "Royalty System" in its various forms applied to

(5) The publisher therefore obtainsauthor and publisher.

a. For the first edition of 1,000 copies, The discovery that the author was as easily

£175. gulled by a Royalty as by a show of half profits,

B. For a second edition of 3,000 copies, caused certain gentry to introduce improvements

£525 into the original plan. Thus the Royalty at first

7. For an edition of 10,000 copies, £1,750. offered and eagerly taken by the ignorant author

Out of this he has to pay the author, printer, paperwas 10 per cent. on the published price from the

maker, binder, and the advertisements. beginning. Then one man sharper than his brothers discovered that his authors would take 5 We might proceed at once to our table, but for per cent. from the beginning; another that his men one objection which will be raised. It is this.

35. 6d.

Suppose the publisher prints 10,000 copies and Since it is more common to meet with a success sells only 1,000 copies, he then has 9,000 copies on corresponding with the second than with the first his hands. That is true. To overprint is a mistake table, let us consider what the figures mean. They that inexperienced publishers often make: experi- speak for themselves, but to those who cannot enced, rarely. The wise publisher feels his way understand figures let us explain. even though to print 3,000 only will cost him a “Your publisher, dear Sir or Madam, when he halfpenny more on each copy than boldly to order benevolently offers you a 5 per cent, royalty, will 10,000. When the demand for a popular book on a second edition of 3,000 copies make £330 to ceases, which is not suddenly but gradually, the your £45, i.e., eight times your share. .

If he gives prudent publisher is not generally left with many you 10 per cent.—which is common-he will copies on hand. It must be remembered that we

make £285 to your £90, that is, three times your are here speaking of a popular and successful book, share. If 15 per cent, he will make £240 to your of which there are a great many issued every year. .£135, i.e., twice your share. If 20 per cent., £195 Now, then, for our table. We deduct from the

to your £180. If 25 per cent., £170 to your publisher's profits (1) what he pays to the author, £225. If 30 per cent., £105 to your £270. (2) what he pays for production. The reader will

Consider this, and refuse the 10 per cent. with see set forth in order the respective shares of profit indignation.” presented by a 5 per cent. up to a 35 per cent.

As for the "fancy” royalties, those on trade royalty to author and to publisher. The per- price, those to begin when a certain number of centage is taken on the published price, the full copies have gone and so forth, the reader may price of 6s.

calculate for himself the meaning of these proI. On the sale of the first 1,000.

posals. We will, however, on a future occasion assist his calculations. With the help of these tables, too, the reader will be able to make an intelligent attempt towards finding an answer to

the question, "What proportion of profit should £ £ £ £

in equity be the share of the publisher in the case Publisher

of a book which has no risk ? " Author

Per cent.







[ocr errors]











[blocks in formation]

HE object of the Royal Literary Fund, as

summed up in Mr. Fitzgerald's Anniversary

Ode, is one of which all of us, members of this Society, must cordially approve.

Here are its aims set forth a little more at length :

“To administer assistance to Authors of published works of approved literary merit and of important contributions to periodical literature, who may be reduced to distress by unavoidable calamities, or deprived by enfeebled faculties, or declining life, of the power of literary exertion. This assistance may

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]


be extended at the death of an Author to his widow Dilke, and Sir E. L. Bulwer were placed upon the and children."

first Committee of reform, and no one has since Every one may not know the pathetic incident to that day breathed a word against the way in which which the Fund actually owed its origin. It was the Fund is administered. this. A member of a club in London, much The benefits are disposed entirely without regard to frequented by literary men, being arrested for a religious sect, the only disqualification being offences small debt, died in consequence. It then leaked

It then leaked against public morality. Neither are they conout that the unfortunate scholar had lived for years fined to Englishmen. At the dinner of 1822, when in the extremest poverty, but had borne his suffer- Chateaubriand's health was proposed by the Duke ings in silence. Some fifteen years before this of York, as the ambassador of France, he mentioned, occurrence, in the very club of which he was a in his acknowledgment of the toast, that he was member, an attempt had been set on foot to found himself aware of the benevolent character of the some sort of pension scheme, but it had fallen Fund, for, during the period of the French through, after a few desultory meetings. This, Revolution, a French literary gentleman was in however, galvanized it into life again.

difficulties, and these difficulties having been repreMr. David Williams was from the first the life sented to the Committee by one of his friends, a and soul of the movement. He had been the sum was voted sufficient to relieve him from all person with whom the idea first originated, and he anxiety, and that at a time when the institution was the first to assist in its resuscitation. He was itself struggling into notice. This gentleman, organized the scheme, and was indefatigable in its Chateaubriand continued, was thus enabled to promotion. He levied taxes on all his friends and maintain his ground. At the Restoration he acquaintances, and persuaded actors, poets, and returned to France to acquire fresh honours as a princes to sound the praises of the new institution. literary man, and to rise in the favour of his We fear he must have been, good worthy man, a Sovereign. He had now returned to England, but terrible bore.

in a different capacity-as the ambassador of his We learn that he himself made house-to-house Sovereign; and he was that man. visits in behalf of his project, and collected large When Macaulay inveighed against all institutions sums of money in that way. In addition to which having for their object the pecuniary relief of authors, he gave personal attention to all the routine business, he was taking a position he might be expected to with the result that, when the Society had literally take, one which it was dignified for him to take, thousands invested, and a most magnificent roll of and one which we sincerely wish could rationally supporters, the executive expenses were returned be taken. Macaulay's contention was that good as only £50.

work would always find sufficient pay, and that In 1818 the Society was incorporated.

therefore the very people who would require such After Williams's death, however, the Society had assistance were the people who did not do good rather a stormy time. This was not only due to work. That, in fact, all such Societies must lead to the loss of their indefatigable leader. The extreme the encouragement of the incompetent. This of secrecy with which the doles were made, while show- course is very far from being the case. ing the kindly delicacy of the administrators, might, deal of admirable work, useful to mankind, and it is obvious, if sufficient care were not taken, be the most creditable to the author, never can command source of abuse. Sufficient care was not taken, and sufficient circulation to make it remunerative. abuses followed.

The Fund most wisely allows for the fact that, The affairs of the Society were at that time whereas while the author is able to work at full administered by an Executive Committee and a pressure, he may keep his head above water, there Council. The Executive Comniittee did the work, may come a time when such a state cannot be and the Council lent their name.

When some of continued. His methods may get out of date. the work could not be approved of, a quarrel took The very lucidity of his teaching may have enabled place between the Council and the Committee.

some younger man, more in touch with modern Many of the Council joined in the general demand thought, to carry similar work to a point of higher for an investigation into the manner in which the perfection. Old age and sickness may arrive. At Society's affairs had been conducted.

once poverty stares the author of unremunerative Then came an agitation for reform. The leader work in the face. He need be in no way improof this was Dickens, who attributed the malpractices, vident and yet be unable to lay aside money to which had undoubtedly occurred, to the demoral- meet such an emergency. izing effect inflicted upon men by much sitting on It is in such cases as these that the bounty of boards of direction. T'he demand was to a certain the Royal Literary Fund is freely and delicately extent acceded to, and Dickens, Mr. Wentworth bestowed.

A great


It is in such cases as these that such assistance

A HARD CASE. is too often urgently necessary.

There exists another institution for the relief of authors. There is a provision on the Civil List for

No. II. pensions to the amount of £1,200 per annum, which should be devoted to the reward of (1)

HIS publisher, Mr. Henry SkimpingtonPersons having just claims on the Royal benevo

Brown, prided himself on his doublelence; (2) Persons who have rendered personal

barrelled name. It certainly lent weight service to the Crown; (3) Persons who have

to his assurances that he was in a position to probenefited the public by discoveries in science ; duce guarantees from most influential people that (4) Persons who have benefited the public by

he was honest-nay more, that he was generous. their attainments in literature and the arts.

He came under the notice of the Society of Mr. Colles’ took* has shown very clearly that

Authors in the following way. He was an adverthese pensions are awarded in a most reprehensible tising person, whose letter paper bore the elastic title manner, and are very generally devoted to the of "publisher” upon it, and whose address was in relief of people often having no claim to charity at

Fleet Street. An author, bitten by one of his all, certainly having no claim upon this establish- specious circulars, sent a manuscript to him for his ment, and occasionally having a distinct claim to

consideration. Here is the author's account of bounty from other sources. The author may well

what followed :look somewhat askance at an institution whose “I unfortunately entrusted my book to Mr. Skimbenefits are administered with so much caprice, pington-Brown. He engaged to publish for me any and so regularly reaped by the wrong people.

number of copies required up to 1,000,” beginning While there is no doubt that the writers of much

at 200. The book came out. I at once began to good work do not derive much good pay from it,

receive letters from friends, acquaintances, and so that in certain cases the assistance of charity be

book-sellers, complaining that they could not obtain comes absolutely needful, it is perfectly certain that copies through the ordinary channels. Mr. Mudie there would be fewer such cases if the literary man

also informed me privately that my publisher was were more alive to his own interests, more careful quite unable to meet his orders. I wrote reof his own property. We learn from the Prince of peatedly to Mr. Skimpington-Brown demanding an Wales's speech that the Royal Literary Fund has explanation. Sometimes I got an evasive answer ; lately made grants to the families of the late J. G, generally no notice was taken of my letters. By Wood and the late R. A. Proctor. These men's

this time I was quite certain that something was names were household words; their teaching and wrong, and a friend of mine, who interviewed him their books were known in every family. They for me, elicited from him :—that he had only were not devoted to abstract and abstruse science'; printed 100 copies; that the type had been broken they did not produce works of great research,

up; and that he had not enough money to pay for appealing necessarily to so small a public as to composition again.” make it impossible that their work should be The author had given the man £80 to produce pecuniarily successful. On the contrary, they were

the book. Now, although a part of the money the most popular expositors whom the world has paid was for advertisement of the book, no adverever seen of the physical and natural wonders of tisements were ever seen except in a trade circular the world. Their books had an enormous popular once or twice. Hardly any copies were sent out circulation, and the fact that it has been recessary

for review. What reviews were obtained were very for their families to apply for assistance to the good ones. Royal Literary Fund speaks volumes for the

Therefore when the author applied to the Society statement made so often in the paper of this

of Authors, the position of affairs was thus:—He had Society. “The nature of literary property is mis

been induced to pay the publisher a sum of money understood and its very reality is hardly recog

equivalent to double as much as was actually spent nized.” Had these writers understood the value in bringing the little book out; also an extra € 5 of their own property they would never, perhaps, on some pretext or other; third, a large sum for have become the recipients either in life, or through author's corrections. Only 100 copies were printed. their widows, after death, of the Literary Fund The circulating libraries could not put the book on Bounty.

their lists, because they could get no copies. The author had received nothing back but a small sum obtained by privately disposing of a few copies to

his friends. *" Literature and the Pension List,” by W. Morris Colles. Cr. 8vo., 34. 6d. Henry Glaisher, 95, Strand, W.C.

A few letters were written which seemed to have VOL. I.


« AnteriorContinuar »