Many authors made sales to the pulp markets before appearing in the slicks. Usually neither they nor the magazine editors paid much attention to their prior work and did not trouble to call them out. The letter below must have spoken for many pulp magazine editors, surely.
This letter originally appeared in the letters column (KEEPING POSTED) of the Saturday Evening Post dated 24 May 1941. I liked both the sting in the tail of this letter and the attitude of the Post in publishing this without comment.
Letter of the Week
HERE is an open letter to Keeping Posted from the editor of Argosy, reprinted from that magazine :
Our delight in this undertaking, however, was somewhat soured when we turned to your always edifying Keeping Posted page. There, in an introduction to biography of Mr. Short, we discovered the following discouraging query: “Where, we asked ourselves,” you asked yourselves, had this Luke Short been hiding himself, his cayuse and his six-guns?” For your information, Mr. Short, up to the very moment of your dazzling recognition of his hidden talents, had been hiding in precisely the same place that has harbored so many of your other writers—men like Richard Sale, Borden Chase, Allan R. Bosworth, Albert Richard Wetjen, Richard Howells Watkins, Karl Detzer, L. G. Blochman, and considerable company. Not to mention C. S. Forester. (Surely you must have heard of Captain Hornblower.) The place we refer to is the pages of the Argosy.
Mr. Short, for instance, has sold us two serials and a great many short stories. A substantial number of readers admired and praised his work. Among them are conceivably several thousand who read both your magazine and ours. How do you think they are going to like your thesis that until they came upon Mr. Short in your book neither he nor they had any existence? But that, of course, is your problem.
Assuming for the moment that, until Mr. Short’s manuscript arrived like an unheralded bombshell on your busy desk, you had never been aware of his previously published work, still we find you a little ungrateful. Perhaps it is mere egotism on our part, but we like to think that the Argosy played a part in the development of the writers we have mentioned. It might be quite possible that the work they did for us helped them to be worthy of you.
But this was intended to be congratulatory, not reproving, so we rejoice in Mr. Short’s new eminence.
And we hope you will cherish him as we do. We even hope you got as good a Short story as the ones we printed.
Your ever-loving, if nonexistent, co-worker,