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Volume 1696


Author's League, "The Bulletin," April 1915
The article on syndication by "X" in the March BULLETIN deals so interestingly with a subject of vital importance to writers that it should awaken many to the possibilities for profit which they are throwing away -- and worse than throwing away -- when they permit the second serial rights to their manuscripts to pass out of their hands without receiving them, in real money, what they are worth.

I am very recent in the writing game, and so, like most recent people in any field, feel fully qualified to spill advice promiscuously among my betters.

But the very fact of my newness is the strongest argument I have in favor of my propaganda -- that writers never part with any of their rights except for value received. Though my literary fontanelle is scarce closed, and my name a household word only in my own home, I am making more real money out of the second serial rights to my stories than some famous authors whose work is of infinitely greater value than mine.

They relinquish their second serial rights either to magazine or book publisher. I retain mine in all events. Their publishers either trade these rights for newspaper advertising or vend them at ridiculously low cash figures. I sell mine for cash, or not at all. In the latter event I am still better off than they, since I am not permitting my stuff to keep down the price which others might get were it not for the mass of publisher-owned rights which are sold for anything that they will bring.

I sold three stories  to magazines before I discovered that second serial rights had a value. From then I have retained these rights and the fourth story has already brought in $729 in cash and is still selling. I have received as high as $300 for the newspaper rights to a story for a single city. I have repeatedly sold to publishers who maintain a syndicating bureau of their own without the slightest demur on their part as to the retention of my second serial rights by me. I have sold for use in a single city to a newspaper that maintains a syndicating service covering many cities.

It is my belief, and my experience corroborates it, that no book or magazine publisher will permit the question of the ownership of the second serial rights to any manuscript to stand in the way of their acquisition of the first serial rights, if they want them. If they don't want the first serial rights, it is certain that the second will prove no inducement.

Now here is my argument: If an unknown writer of very ordinary fiction can turn his second serial rights into money for himself in the face of the competition engendered by the trading of second serial rights, owned by publishers, for advertising, and the low prices accepted by magazine syndicating bureaus, then every writer should be able to get something, sometime, for some of the second serial rights he is now giving away.

Further, and of still greater importance: if no writer ever again parted with these rights except for a fair cash remuneration there would be a better market for us al, and infinitely better prices.

I wish that the League might suggest a plan whereby we should all work together to this end, for if a number of us could combine to do our own syndicating we could accomplish more at a smaller expense than by individually marketing our own wares, or by turning the work over to an agent.

My idea in the suggestion of such a plan is not that we ask unfair prices for our work, but that we may receive fair prices, all of us, and keep to ourselves more of the fruits of our labors.

The Secretary of the League will be glad to put in touch with the writer any other authors who may simplify their interest in this plan.
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Chicago Examiner ~ April 4, 1918

How did I become an author? The answer to that question depends, to a considerable extent, upon the askee. For example, should you ask some of the book reviewers how I became one they would tell you that I hadn't. One of them said that my perfectly good column in the NATION explaining how rotten they are. May be he is right; may be they are not books at all; but I like them -- I think they are bully stories -- and so do several million other low-brows.

In telling how I became an author I should be able to expatiate on the fact that since earliest infancy I had been an inimitable story-teller, and that I took to writing professionally before leaving kindergarten. As a matter of fact I never could tell a story and can not now. I can write a story on a typewriter; or what you and I think is a story; but I couldn't tell one, and I was thirty five years old before I wrote my first.

My career as a fiction writer hinged on the decision of Tom Metcalf, then editor of The All-Story Magazine. I sent him about half the manuscript of A Princess of Mars, asking that he let me know if he thought it worth while completing the yarn. He said he did. If he had said no my first story would yet have been unwritten.

I had started in a new business a few months before I commenced A Princess of Mars. We advertised in a number of magazines and after our advertisements were checked I sometimes took the magazines home to read. There were several all-fiction publications among them -- some that I had never before seen -- and so I read some of the stories. I remember thinking that if other people got money for writing such stuff I might, too, for I was sure I could writer stories just as rotten as theirs. Later on I found that I could; but that came when my business venture went the way of ninety-five percent of all other new enterprises and I was left without money, with out a job and with a wife and two babies. Then I recalled the stories I had read in the all-fiction magazines and surreptitiously, I started A Princess of Mars. I was very much ashamed of my now vocation and until the story was nearly half completed I told no one about it, and then only my wife. It seemed a foolish thing for a full grown man to be doing -- much on a par with dressing myself in a boy scout suit and running away from home to fight Indians. I was very new. I didn't show a single writer, editor or publisher and had an idea that most of them were long haired freaks who resided in attics. I have since discovered that the regular ones are quite human. In all this I believe I was fortunate as it gave me the mental attitude which has been largely responsible for what success I have had -- it has prevented me taking either my work or myself seriously.

Luck has been with me from the first moment that I started writing. Formerly I didn't take much stock in luck; but I am now convinced that it plays a large part in the acceptance or rejection of manuscript. You are lucky if the editor has had a good dinner just prior to reading your latest story and you are unlucky if he has indigestion. I have written and sold thirty-one novels and novelettes. In all but two instances where any of these were rejected by an editor I have later resold them at an advanced rate -- sometimes to the very magazine that first refused them. On the other hand, and I get this from an experienced magazine editor, there is every reason to believe that there are a greater number of better manuscripts rejected every year than are accepted.

Tarzan of the Apes was my third story and after that things came easier still. At home Tarzan is vulgarly known as our meal ticket. Whenever the sheriff gains on me and is about to levy on my coat-tails I draw my trusty Underwood and dash off another Tarzan novel.

Some day, when I get to be a regular author, I'll tell you how I did it.

by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Oak Leaves ~ May 25, 1918

There are several kinds of patriotism and each is good. There is patriotism of the head, patriotism of the heart, patriotism of the feet, patriotism of the entire body patriotism of the soul, and patriotism of the pocketbook. Some men have one kind, some several and some all of them -- these last are the true patriots; all wool and a yard wide. These are the men who give up high-salaried positions and go across to fight in the trenches as common soldiers for love of their country. In them, patriotism of the heart and soul has risen to its highest and noblest pinnacle.

Patriotism of the head prompts a man to invest in four and one-half per cent Gold Liberty Bonds. No, I am not belittling this kind of patriotism -- it is better than none; but it should never mark the full measure of any man's willingness to do for his country. It is only a starter -- and, too, do not overlook the fact that it has ever been used by your enemies and traitors at home to purchase immunity from suspicion and ostracism. I am just a trifle skeptical of the man who has done nothing more than buy Liberty Bonds.

You give to the Red Cross and you combine patriotism of the heart and pocketbook which is mighty good patriotism, no matter which is the larger; but don't stop there. There is patriotism of the soul, of the hands, of the feet and of the entire body. These come under the general head of sacrificing service.

How much service are you rendering your country which requires a sacrifice?

And now I'm getting close to my title, "Patriotism by Proxy," which will lead up to what I really wish to start Oak Park men, women, too, thinking about seriously.

Service! In service lies the truest  patriotism. There are many kinds of service one may render. He who renders such service as he can is a true patriot, whether that service be in the ship yards or upon the farm, at a desk or in the trenches -- so it is the best of the only service he be fitted for, or able to give.

Are you in the service of your country? If you are not and might be, you are either a traitor or a slacker -- and the higher your social position and the greater your wealth, the worse you are, since these things entail greater responsibilities to the community in which you live. It is our example that is followed by others less fortunate than you.

"But, my dear man," you say, "Oak Park has fourteen hundred men in the service. We have more than done our share. We should be very proud of that record."

Well, we are proud - of those fourteen hundred men -- mighty proud of them; but we are not proud of you, you patriot by proxy. It is these fourteen hundred men who are giving the service -- not you. If I were not doing all that I am permitted to do, I would not peep about those fourteen hundred men in service from Oak Park. I should be ashamed to publish the fact that there are fourteen hundred men from my home town actually in service while I was giving no service whatever, or less than I might give.

Possibly you do not know just how you may give service to your country. I'll tell you. You can enlist in the Illinois Reserve Militia and turn out for drill twice a week -- sometimes oftener -- and possibly once a week for target practice, and then if you are called on for some more, you may thank your God that you have at last found a way to serve your country with your head and hands and your feet and your whole body and your pocketbook, throwing in our heart for good measure.

And you are serving your country if you enlist in the reserve militia, because the time is here, right now, when every man in the reserve may feel that he is actually releasing a federal soldier for service overseas. Were it not for the reserve militia of the country, a very considerable number of regular troops would have to be held on this side in readiness to do the work the reserve militia has been trained to do. The very fact of the presence in each community of these trained, uniformed and armed troops discourages disorder and lawlessness and permits the withdrawal of government soldiers.

Possibly you think you are too big a man for the reserve militia. Forget it. There are privates in some of the Oak Park companies who could buy and sell you several times with about the same concern with which you purchase a newspaper. Their private secretaries are of more importance in the business world than are you. And, furthermore, the bigger you think you are, the smaller you really are.

It may be that you think of the "home guard" as tin soldiers. All right, I'd rather be a tin soldier when my country is at war than to be none at all. Let me tell you something of what these men have done and who they are, ad then, unless your yellow streak reaches way around to your belly, you'll wish to join them and help them in shouldering the most thankless job that any American is doing today.

The reserve militia in Oak Park is the most democratic of bodies. It is composed of high school boys, millionaires, clerks, business men and professional men; of men 18 years old and men 45 years old, and of every age between. There is neither politics nor pull in this battalion. Merit alone counts.

These men have, largely, paid for their own equipment. They have sacrificed time from their leisure and their business to give this service to their state and thus to their country. They work by day at their vocations, they subscribe to the Liberty loans, they give to the Red Cross and the Y.M.C.A. War Fund, and still they are ready to give more service at drills and special formations when they are ordered out for patriotic rallies and parades.

You see them at parades and think that that is all they do -- all that they joined for. I know some think that. I cannot believe that many think so. I cannot believe that I live in a community in which any considerable proportion of the men are so narrow or so ignorant as to believe that. Some express that opinion who do not really entertain it. They express it because in some remote corner of their little souls they harbor a vast shame for their own slacking and they believe that by professing contempt for the reserve they are explaining why they, courageous lions that they are, have accepted no military service whatever.

The reserve militiamen are working hard and working conscientiously to give what service they can now and to prepare themselves to give whatever they are called upon to give in the way of service. They did not join in order to wear a uniform. I am speaking of them as a body. Of course, there have been some foolish boys who abused the privilege of the cloth, but they were few and have been largely eliminated.

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