The Manuscript Factory by L. Ron Hubbard

     With the field thus narrowed, and you had say two types of markets to hammer at, you went ahead and wrote for the two. But you did not forget all the other branches you had first aspired to, and now and then you ripped off something out of line and sent it away and perhaps sold it and went on with the first two types regardless.

     Take my own situation as an example – because I know it better than yours. I started out writing for the pulps, writing the best I knew, writing for every mag on the stands, slanting as well as I could.

     I turned out about a half a million words, making sales from the start because of heavy quantity. After a dozen stories were sold, I saw that things weren’t quite right. I was working hard and the money was slow.

     Now it so happened that my training had been an engineer’s. I leaned toward solid, clean equations rather than guesses, and so I took the list which you must have. Stories written, type, wordage, where sent, sold or not.

     My list was varied. It included air-war, commercial air, western, western love, detective, and adventure.

     On the surface, that list said that adventure was my best bet, but when you’ve dealt with equations long, you never trust them until you have the final result assured.

     I reduced everything to a common ground. I took stories written of one type, added up all the wordage, and set down the wordage sold. For instance:

     DETECTIVE ................ 120,000 words written
    30,000 words sold
 
 

      30,000

 

  —————— = 25%

 

    120,000

     ADVENTURE ................. 200,000 words written
    36,000 words sold
 
 

      36,000

 

  —————— = 18%

 

    200,000

      According to the sale book, adventure was my standby, but one look at 18 percent versus 25 percent showed me that I had been doing a great deal of work for nothing. At a cent a word, I was getting $0.0018 for adventure, and $0.0025 for detective.

     A considerable difference. And so I decided to write detectives more than adventures.

      I discovered from this same list that, whereby I came from the West and therefore should know my subject, I had still to sell even one western story. I have written none since.

      I also found that air-war and commercial air stories were so low that I could no longer afford to write them. And that was strange as I held a pilot’s license.

     Thus I was fooled into working my head off for little returns. But things started to pick up after that and I worked less. Mostly I wrote detective stories, with an occasional adventure yarn to keep up the interest.

     But the raw materials of my plant were beginning to be exhausted. I had once been a police reporter and I had unconsciously used up all the shelved material I had.

     And things started to go bad again, without my knowing why. Thereupon I took out my books, which I had kept accurately and up to date – as you should do.

     Astonishing figures. While detective seemed to be my mainstay, here was the result.

The Manuscript Factory continued...



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