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If You Don't Write Fiction   By: (1884-)

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Transcriber's note Minor punctuation errors have been corrected without notice. The author's spelling has been maintained.





Copyright, 1920, by ROBERT M. McBRIDE & CO.

Printed in the United States of America

Published. June, 1920


who "doesn't write fiction," but who is ambitious to market magazine articles, this little book is affectionately dedicated. If it can save her some tribulations along the road that leads to acceptances, the author will feel that his labors have been well enough repaid.

The author thanks the editors of The Bookman , Outing and the Kansas City Star for granting permission to reprint certain passages that here appear in revised form.

C. P. C.


The publisher assures me that no one but a book reviewer ever reads prefaces, so I seize upon the opportunity to have a tête à tête with my critics. Gentlemen, my cards are face up on the table. I have declared to the publisher that nearly every American who knows how to read longs to find his way into print, and should appreciate some of the dearly bought hints herein contained upon practical journalism. And, as I kept my face straight when I said it, he may have taken me seriously. Perhaps he thinks he has a best seller.

But this is just between ourselves. As he never reads prefaces, he won't suspect unless you tell him. My own view of the matter is that Harold Bell Wright need not fear me, but that the editors of the Baseball Rule Book may be forced to double their annual appropriation for advertising in the literary sections.

As the sport of free lance scribbling has a great deal in common with fishing, the author of this little book may be forgiven for suggesting that in intention it is something like Izaak Walton's "Compleat Angler," in that it attempts to combine practical helpfulness with a narrative of mild adventures. For what the book contains besides advice, I make no apologies, for it is set down neither in embarrassment nor in pride. Many readers there must be who would like nothing better than to dip into chapters from just such a life as mine. Witness how Edward FitzGerald, half author of the "Rubaiyat," sighed to read more lives of obscure persons, and that Arthur Christopher Benson, from his "College Window," repeats the wish and adds:

"The worst of it is that people often are so modest; they think that their own experience is so dull, so unromantic, so uninteresting. It is an entire mistake. If the dullest person in the world would only put down sincerely what he or she thought about his or her life, about work, love, religion and emotion, it would be a fascinating document."

But, you may protest, by what right do the experiences of a magazine free lance pass as "adventures"?

Then, again, I shall have to introduce expert testimony:

"The literary life," says no less an authority than H. G. Wells, "is one of the modern forms of adventure."

And this holds as true for the least of scribblers as it does for great authors. While the writer whose work excites wide interest is seeing the world and meeting, as Mr. Wells lists them, "philosophers, scientific men, soldiers, artists, professional men, politicians of all sorts, the rich, the great," you may behold journalism's small fry courageously sallying forth to hunt editorial lions with little butterfly nets. The sport requires a firm jaw and demands that the adventurer keep all his wits about him. Any novice who doubts me may have a try at it himself and see! But first he had better read this "Compleat Free Lancer... Continue reading book >>

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