Letter 074, pg. 1
To Archibald Ogden
May 6, 1943
Thank you for your letter. It was very nice of you to wish to cheer me up—and that is why your letter was heart-breaking to me. If I were up against malice, I could fight it. When I’m up against genuinely good intentions—not backed up by facts—I’m licked.
Apparently your genius is that of an editor and lies in the printed word—not in any other form of reality. So I’m going to put it all down on paper. Maybe you’ll understand. Please try to.
You say: “I guess it’s your faith in others I sometimes worry about.” I don’t know what that word means. If you mean “faith” in a religious sense—in the sense of blind acceptance—I don’t have any faith in anything or anybody, I never have had and never will have. I go by facts and reason. I had neither faith nor non-faith in you when I first met you. I formed no opinion of you until I had some concrete evidence on which to base an opinion. I trust and admire you as an editor, because of the intelligent judgment you exhibited while we were working on the novel. This is not “faith.” It is much sounder. It is my reasonable conviction.
What evidence has the firm of Bobbs-Merrill given me of its competence to handle the business side of a book’s publication?
Whom is it that I must have faith in, and on what grounds?
You have said that I don’t know the business side and must let those in charge handle it. I shall list what I know about the methods I have observed other publishers using.
When a book is supposed to be a “lead” and a “special”—
1. It is publicized months in advance. There has been no mention of my book anywhere.
2. The author is given publicity. I was given nothing.
3. Posters and display material are prepared. I’ve had none.
4. Window displays are arranged. I’ve had none.
5. Circulars are sent to mailing lists. I’ve had none.
6. A party of some sort is arranged for the trade. I’ve had none.
7. Ads are taken in both Sunday papers and in the dailies. I have one ad coming.
8. The book is issued in time to get reviews on publication. Mine was rushed through in a manner that gave nobody but an ass like Harry Hansen time to read it. I hold Bobbs-Merrill responsible for that review. It is obvious that Hansen hasn’t even read the book—