Copy of Two Typed Letters from the London publisher Martin Secker to the Scots-Canadian author Frederick Niven, the first asking for 'one more chance' to publish his work. With typed copies of two of Niven's replies, the first extremely critical.

Frederick Niven [Frederick John Niven] (1878-1944), Scots-Canadian writer [Martin Secker [Percy Martin Secker Klingender] (1882-1978), London publisher; J. B. Pinker, literary agent]
Publication details: 
Secker: both from Number Five, John Street, Adelphi; 26 and 28 February 1913. Niven: both from Holmleigh, Church Hill, Loughton, Essex; 27 February and 2 March 1913.
SKU: 11709

Sent by Niven to his literary agent J. B. Pinker, whose date stamp is on the first of Secker's letters. All four items in fair condition, on aged and lightly-creased paper. Secker's first letter: 1p., 4to. He begins by praising 'Denny's display' [a window display of Niven's work in Denny's bookshop in the Strand]: 'I am wondering whether you managed to get the photograph into any of the papers. Shall I send it to the Bookman?' He continues: 'The sales [of Niven's novel The Porcelain Lady] up to date amount to 434 in England. It is not as good as we could have hoped, but I believe it will still go on. I shall certainly continue to advertise and do all I can.' He then makes an appeal to Niven: 'Will you do me a favour? I want Pinker to give me a reasonable opportunity of having your name in my list in January next, for I still believe very strongly in your work, and when your sudden success comes, I should like it to come in partnership with me. There would then be no reason for us to separate or for you to try your luck with another publisher. I want, in a word, one more chance.' Niven's first reply: 2pp., 4to. Containing an autograph addition by Niven, with the word 'Copy.' in his hand at the head, and '(Signed) F. N.' by him at the end. He begins his reply with a long paragraph regarding the Denny display and The Bookman, which was photographed by the 'Record Press people', who 'tried to get the photograph in the papers but were met by the objection that it was too much of an advertisement'. Niven now turns to the source of his dissatisfaction. 'You speak of advertising. I feel that this is your affair, and am chary about treading on it; but as Romeike and Curtice have instructions to send me cuttings of advertisements as well as of reviews and cuttings of my articles and so forth, and as they have not sent one advertisement fo The Porcelain Lady it looks either as if the advertisements were in remote organs - or else that Romeike is remiss. I hope it is the latter explanation. He has missed things before I know. Every now and then he gets slack.' Niven now sets aside all disingenuousness: 'As for future books: when last we had a talk on the matter you will remember that we agreed that even if I left you for a book or two, that did not imply a regretful farewell. We touched upon the various facets in talk; I don't like leaving you; if I feel that I must with one book - with two books - with any books - I must just repeat again that I will do so with regret but not with finality, because - I find it very unpleasant to say, evidently I shall have to - because, despite the attractions of Number Five John Street you don't advertise; [he adds here in autograph: '(I mean in the sense of the phrase used when people say "He advertises")'] and your men don't make booksellers take books; and people write to me (acquaintances I have on the Press to whom I have not made presentation of copies) and say: "I haven't seen a copy of your new book yet. I have asked the editor to give it to me, but he says he hasn't seen it."' He continues by describing Secker as a publisher he is 'pleased to be published by': but I am not wealthy and if I can get more money for a book or two - until you find it your policy to "boost" just a little bit more - I am really afraid I shall have to think of "boosting" and the farther hope that "boosting" gives of probable second editions, as well as of the grace with which my books are given to the five hundred who look for what they want instead of taking what they are told to take.' He concedes that he is still 'an unknown quantity', and concludes: 'I hope to have some years yet of good work, and various work; and I hope that some of it will be published by you. / Let me take this opportunity again to wish success to Five John Street. My wife sends kind regards.' Secker's second letter: 1p., 4to, with 1p., 4to, of accounts. 'I see your point of view perfectly, and of course if you feel that I am not doing you justice, I should infintely prefer you to go into the open market, though I should be sorry to see your name in another list.' As to advertising, , he explains that 'it is a very heavy expense', which he has to regulate 'according to the sales of a book. I mean that it is a little discouraging, when a book already shows a lost, to add to it by another £20 of advertisements, which experience shows me very often have little result.' He hopes that Niven's 'new book is shaping well, and that Pinker will manage to get advantageous terms for you'. He suggests that Niven 'try and arrange a clause in the agreement stipulating a fixed sum of money to be spent on "Solus" advertisements in papers of your own selection'. He ends by expressing a hope that 'the next book will really "come off" in the very best sense'. The second page carries 'a list of the papers (with dates) in which the "Porcelain Lady" has been advertised'. In his letter Secker explains that he has not 'given it any separate display', but that he 'intended (and still intend) to do so, although I remember that I did this with "Dead Men's Bells" with no marked effect'. Niven's second reply: 1p., 4to. Also ending, in Niven's hand, '(Signed) F.N.' He is 'sincerely glad' that he and Secker 'understand each other. Any separation, if necessary just now, will only, I trust, be temporary.' He hopes to see him when he is in town, 'though that is not often now-a-days - or perhaps you may take a fancy to come down here some day and have a ramble in the forest.'