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VOL. XXVI. (Second Series.)--October, 1895.-No. 154.
IT T IS the simplest thing in
the world to make a magazine pay, and the method is no secret. There is without doubt many an ambitious journalist on this Coast ready to start a rival to the OVERLAND the moment he is assured that the venture will win him fame and money. It may not be good politics for the Sanctum to lay its heart bare, but a secret is no secret when
shared by a dozen persons and the Office Boy. The magazine promoter needs but just money enough to print his first issue; for if he takes advantage of the Sanctum's receipt, money will pour in until he will imagine that the windows of heaven have been opened for his benefit. Here it is,- just know what the people want to read and give it to them. Napoleon had no difficulty in winning battles. He always saw just where to strike, and he struck with all his might. He knew instinctively where his troops would be of the most service, and he did not hesitate. He did the right thing at the right time.
Bind together ten articles, stories, sketches, or poems, each one of which will demand the attention of ten thousand people, and you need not worry about your printer's bills. Make a magazine popular, all that is needed is popular literature. If one short story will make an author famous, it stands to reason that one popular article a month ought to make a magazine sell.
But the rub comes in deciding what will catch the public eye. Did you ever try to make up a list of subjects on which articles could be written that would have a fair chance of selling say five hundred copies of a magazine each ? It is lots of fun,
The Office Boy. “The mail.' There are seven manuscript stories, one with twelve cents postage due, four (Copyright, 1895, by OVERLAND MONTHLY PUBLISHING CO.) All rights reserved.
Commercial Publishing Company, S. F.
manuscript articles, three letters of advice, two kicks, twenty-one postal card requests for sample copies, seventeen of which are south of the Mason and Dixon line, a change of address, seven subscriptions, one discontinuance, eleven manuscript poems, and a design in ink for a tail-piece.
The Reader. “Here are four sketches, apropos of our talk on salable manuscripts. While I read their titles let the Sanctum decide how many magazines each would sell :
1. “An Ascent of Popocatapeti.” ” 2. “A Journey to California in '49." 3. “ The Intemperance of Temperance." 4. "Feathered Songsters of the Pacific Coast." The Sanctum. “Possibly fifty
"Possibly fifty – to their authors." The Reader. “I should judge from the first paragraph of each, that all four of the manuscripts submitted are well written and interesting reading, and yet the unanimous verdict is that if they were published in any one number of the OVERLAND their united selling abilities would be fifty. In other words, our rival who expects to make his magazine pay would do well not to choose any one of them."
The Poet. “And yet no doubt they would be more satisfactory to the regular magazine reader and subscriber than the special article that will sell ten thousand copies to the irregular buyers. Do you remember how weary the public became before the War articles were finished in The Century? And yet they trebled the receipts of that company, and secured the attention of a class of readers that had never before cared whether the magazine lived or died."
The Contributor. “There are special articles that nine good judges would swear were inspirations and would sell thousands, but they are financial failures because of the character of the special audiences interested. There was the twenty page special in the April OVERLAND on. The Jew in San Francisco.' It was written by a Jewish rabbi and a Gentile, both of them interesting and accurate writers, and was beautifully illustrated. It appealed directly to sixty thousand Jews, all well-todo, in this city and a hundred thousand more in the OVERLAND'S field.
A big edition was printed. It was a dire financial failure although a multitude of papers noticed and copied it. Why? Because of the peculiar characteristics of the class appealed to. They bought a few copies and passed them around. A penny saved is a penny earned. On the other hand, you will remember that the Artist's contribution in the July number on 'Some San Francisco Illustrators' was a tremendous and unexpected success. It sold out the entire edition, and it only appealed to a few dozen artists and their friends, the assessable valuation of whose combined property would not cause a covetous smile to creep over the face of any of the Jews cited in the former article. Why, again? Because talent is generous to a fault and wealth miserly to a degree. So I say there is much in choosing an audience.
THE responsible head of a magazine, unless he be a born editor with the mark on
his brow, takes the same chances in choosing the matter for each number as the general does in ordering an attack, or the gambler in picking out his horse at the
If he can make up his mind as to what is timely and what the public appetite demands, he is a success even if he cannot conjugate amo or spells bird with a
There are books and books and magazines and magazines, but there is only once in a while a book and once in two whiles a magazine that holds the great roving restless public eye or touches the indifferent public heart.
The Reviewer. “I suggest that instead of offering $10,000 for a prize story, we offer $100 to anyone who will simply suggest a subject for a popular article,one for each month. It is easy enough to write, what we want is ideas."
The Manager. “ The offer is registered.''
The Parson. “I have a subject to submit that will sell the required ten thousand copies. Well known Paintings in San Francisco Saloons, with incidentally a description of interiors,' "
There was meat for thought in the good Parson's remark. After all, man does not live by bread alone, and for one I wish that the magazine was as untrammeled as the Parson. No one dictates as to what he shall preach. A few Sundays since he took his text from Proverbs, xxvii. 15, “A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.” The sermon lasted for half an hour. Not being a woman, I did not take it to myself, but it was strong, clear, and pointed, and I watched the face of the handsome sister that I was sure it was aimed at. She is worth a million, and I could not but admire the Parson's hardihood.
" What perfectly lovely talks !" she said as we passed down the aisle together, “and the nicest thing about them is that they are so poetic and allegorical, I just love the dear old Parson !!!
I looked up into the great rose window through which the sun was struggling and thought, “Should I take that independence and freedom of expression in the * Etc.' we should lose every advertiser within thirty days.” And yet the Parson, who is so popular that he can say the most awful truths without exciting a murmur, reviles us for wanting to be popular. The good man does not know it, but it is these very tirades in good English that draw a large class of his wealthy pewholders. They like to feel the lash playing about their tough hides. It is a pleasurable stimulant after six days of obsequiousness and fawnings from their peers. The Parson cannot lay it on too strong to please them, they even uncover their weak points so that he will be sure and see them. They chuckle quietly to themselves as they drop a gold piece on the plate, but wo to the man that points his finger.
the Parson, not knowing what was going on inside of his colleagues' brains, continued a little pompously.
The Parson. “I believe, and I think I live up to my beliefs, in complete inde pendence of thought, independence of speech and action. If you run special articles because you think they will pay and not because you know they are good, you lose your independence."
The Artist. “How about the Sunday odors of benzine that have come in with white kid gloves? Does it show an independence of the male members' olfactory nerves or an independence in dress?”
The Parson was more than particular about his dress, he was fashionable,that is, he would be picked out of a crowd of well dressed men as the best dressed one. He does not stand chaffing on the subject gracefully and maintains that he knows the difference between the gentleman and the dude. Then he is neat. His laundry is of the snowy whiteness of new linen. He will not excuse dirt. “ Dirt is matter out of place,” he remarks as he gazes sorrowingly at the Occasional Visitor's vest front,- for the O. V. is mighty about the girth and insists on wearing a
white waistcoat a week. “Madam,” said the Parson to his soprano who is not noted for spotless cuffs and always asks everybody's opinion regarding their cleanliness, “if there is any doubt about the subject they are dirty."
The Parson. “I believe in independence in dress among the Fiji Islanders, but i insist on dependence on dress in San Francisco. Good clothes force one to be respectable. They are an outward and visible sign, not that their owners will respect you and your opinions if you will, but at least treat them with a certain dignity. The clergy man who goes about wearing the Occasional Visitor's vest," (the O. V. buttoned up his coat with a motion that seemed to imply that did he not "respect the cloth,”—) “a coat to match, trousers that bag at the knees, and laundry that has been trimmed, may be powerful in prayer but soon his influence among his congregation will become nil. The country parson that borrowed a five-dollar gold piece of his deacon before the service and returned it directly after leaving the pulpit had the right idea. A man, no matter how full of the spirit he may be, cannot talk boldly and confidently of the rewards of religion with empty pockets any more than he can convince his hearers that religion pays when habited in old-fashioned, seedy garments. If my congregation is the best dressed one in the city I am proud of the fact, and I trust that my example has had something to do with it. In any case, I am ready to believe that their good clothes on the Sabbath are in part a compliment to me.''
The Parson has a mission on the south side of Market. In it he distributes the clothes that his well dressed congregation have deemed too shiny at the elbows or too baggy at the knees to meet their pastor's critical glance. Last Christmas a wagon load of such garments went into the homes of the poor from its doors. One of the Parson's vestry men lost a leg at Appomattox and he disdains to wear a cork
His trousers lack one leg. After the service on the Sunday after Christmas an old gray-haired sister arose and announced, “My son John is a thousand times obliged to yer, sir, fur the clothes, but he says that if the man will send him the cloth for the leg he fergot, he will be able ter come ter church next Sunday." Not only the cloth but a complete suit was sent the sufferer by the hero of Appomattox, and John in time joined the church.
The Parson. “It was the clothes that did it. It is much easier to win a man's heart when it is covered with a clean, self-respecting suit of clothes, than when hidden away in the greasy overalls of his week day labors. The Contributor wants free baths for the poor ; I want to dress them in clothes that make them ashamed to get dirty. Clean hands and clean clothes make clean hearts." The Poet:
"Through tatter'd clothes small vices do appear ;
Robes and furr'd gowns hide all.” The Parson. “Shakspere and our Poet are no doubt exceedingly smart, but I prefer to follow the fashions, - big sleeves, crinolines, or hoops, high collars, patentleathers, or “willie-boys,"
willie-boys,” — rather than have our men and women boycott the tailor and lose their ambition to vie with one another in good clothes and good deeds. You can go unshaven if you will, but I confess a weakness for the barber's chair."
The Parson's talk had its effect, for the Occasional Visitor borrowed two bits of the sermonizer with the published intention of getting a shave and having his clothes brushed.
The Office Boy. “Proof."