Sunday, March 06, 2005


Live The Writer's Life in New York City!

I recently came across this article in the July 13th 1908 issue of the New York Times, and reproduce it here in its entirety:

Elusive Publishers Have Kept Mrs. Todd's Genius From the Public, She Says

"Just Friends," a common-sense story with a real heroine. Address Mary Ives Todd, No. 2056 Eight Ave., NY. Price $1. To publishers, 60 cents.

The above advertisement was published in the Times Saturday Book Review. Mrs. Todd readily explained to a reporter for the New York Times why she had found it necessary to adopt her own measures in exploiting her books.

When Mrs. Todd came to New York five years ago she had a small heritage from her maternal uncle, Hoadley B. Ives, a New Haven banker, and an ambition to attain distinction in the literary field. Religious difficulties with her husband, which were adjusted afterward, furnished the motive for "Debora," a book in which she advocated certain modifications in divorce laws.

Mrs. Todd said the manuscript of the book was refused by every publisher in the city. She saw an advertisement of a Boston concerna and wrote to ask for terms. The firm finally agreed to publish the volume for $510. Mrs. Todd sent the money, and immediately the concern disappeared.

Not discouraged, Mrs. Todd settled in the back rooms on the fourth floor of a noisy Eighth Avenue tenement and wrote another novel. A New York firm, whose top floor offices on a side street were discovered by Mrs. Todd after she had taken her work to all the more substantial houses, promised to bring it out for $500. They, too, went out of business shortly, according to Mrs. Todd, without returning either the money or publishing the book.

A Broadway firm agreed, according to Mrs. Todd, to publish her third novel. She said that she advanced $650 for printing and $50 for "press corrections." She said that these alleged corrections hardly amounted to a dozen lines. She never saw any advertisements of the book, and received altogether $5.80 in royalties. Not satisfied with this return on an investment of $700, she took her book away from the publisher. He gave it up without objection -- after charging her $5 for "storing the plates."

Mrs. Todd paid $400 to have her fourth book printed. After waiting about a year for royalties which did not come she paid another publisher, a woman, $100 more to take the manuscript out of the other firm's hands. The first time the woman publisher was visited after the payment of $100 she was found to be under the influence of liquor. Mrs. Todd does not know which of these two publishers has her manuscript. About this same a boarding house keeper, according to Mrs. Todd, persuaded her to invest $2500 in a Polish newspaper, published by one of the boarders. The boarder decamped as soon as he got Mrs. Todd's money. The boarding house keeper disclaimed all responsibility.

Mrs. Todd's fifth and last book, "Just Friends," is a story about Thomas Paine. Mrs. Todd described it as a "story of old folks, who are not treated well in America." She paid $365 to a firm to bring out this book. They recently went into bankruptcy, but gave her 250 copies of the book, which went to press apparently before the failure. Now she is advertising the book herself.

Mrs. Todd says she expects soon to go to her husband in Los Angeles.

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