Letter 074, pg. 2
he’s skimmed through it. And our publication date was chosen because the firm wanted bills to come in one month in advance!
Now I don’t say that I advocate necessarily all of those methods or any one in particular. I only know that those are the methods used. You’ve used none of them. Perhaps you have better methods of your own. Very well. TELL ME WHAT THEY ARE. Name them. I don’t want compliments, I don’t want consolations, I don’t want any talk about anyone’s “faith.” I want facts.
If you can tell me what Bobbs-Merrill have done for the book, I shall be delighted to be proved wrong.
I use the word “you” in the above as meaning Bobbs-Merrill as a business firm, not you as a person. In your own specific job, that of editor, you have proved yourself superlative. I have not changed my opinion on that. I repeat that I think you are a genius as an editor. I know how much you have done for the book in that respect and how much I owe you.
But I am not at all clear about your position or authority on the business side of the firm. So when I criticize that, you will have to decide whether it applies to you or not. I honestly don’t know. I am criticizing the behavior of the firm. If you had authority in those matters, then the fault is yours. If you hadn’t, then my words are no reflection upon you. In either case, they are not a reflection upon you as an editor.
You are too intelligent and honest a man to say the sort of things you said in your letter. Archie, doesn’t reason and logic mean anything to you at all? Why do you say things like that? WHY? Won’t you tell me, as a gesture of charity, if nothing else? I’m actually begging you to give me an explanation. Why do you ask me to have faith in a publicity department that forces reviewers to call in and inquire whether the author of your “important” book is a man or a woman? Is that a proof of competence? Is that what one does to promote a new “discovery”? I suppose faith—the blind faith of a moron—is all one can feel for publicists who do this. Certainly not respect or confidence. Is that the kind of faith you ask me to feel? To me, that performance on the part of a publicity department is either criminal negligence or plain lousy incompetence. In the name of all logic and honesty, I don’t see any other alternative, or explanation. If I’m wrong—tell me what the publicity department has done for me.
I did have faith. That’s where I’m guilty. Since the first of January, when I delivered my script to you, I never asked what your publicity department was doing. I didn’t interfere, I didn’t hint, I didn’t ask for anything. Observe the results.
Now we come to the beautiful ad I’m getting on Sunday. I have told you, every indication has told you, advance reactions have told you and you have agreed that the book must be sold as an important, challenging, intellectual novel on a great modern issue—and not as a cheap story on architecture. Until I annoyed you by tactlessly butting in into what you said was none of my business—you didn’t even