Story type: Essay
“Amateur” writes me that he is about to publish a book, and asks me if I will be kind enough to suggest some good, reliable publisher for him.
This would suggest that “Amateur” wishes to confer his book on some deserving publisher with a view to building him up and pouring a golden stream of wealth into his coffers. “Amateur” already, in his mind’s eye, sees the eager millions of readers knocking each other down and trampling upon one another in the mad rush for his book. In my mind, I see his eye, lighted up with hope, and, though he lives in New Jersey, I fancy I can hear his quickened breath as his bosom heaves.
Evidently he has never published a book. There is a good deal of fun ahead of him that he does not wot of. I used to think that when I got the last page of my book ready for press, the front yard would be full of publishers tramping down the velvet lawn and the meek-eyed pansies in their crazy efforts to get hold of the manuscript, but when I had written the last word of my first volume of soul-throb, and had opened the casement to look out on the howling, hungry mob of publishers, with checkbooks in one hand and a pillow-case full of scads in the other, I was a little puzzled to notice the abrupt and pronounced manner in which they were not there.
All of us have to struggle before we can catch the eye of the speaker. Milton didn’t get one-fiftieth as much for “Paradise Lost” as I got for my first book, and yet you will find people to-day who claim that if Milton had lived he could have knocked the socks off of me with one hand tied behind him. Recollect, however, that I am not here to open a discussion on this matter. Everyone is entitled to his own opinion in relation to authors. People cannot agree on the relative merits of literature. Now, for instance, last summer I met a man over in South Park, Col., who could repeat page after page of Shakespeare, and yet, when I asked him if he was familiar with the poems of the “Sweet Singer of Michigan,” he turned upon me a look of stolid vacancy, and admitted that he had never heard of her in his life.
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