JUDITH yARoSS LEE Samuel L. Clemens died a rich man, leaving an estate of more than $600,000 in 1910 (about $14.8 million in 2014 dollars)--a success all the more remarkable in light of his many famous losses, both small (the Kaolatype swindle and Scott embezzlement) and large (the Paige compositor and the bankruptcy of publisher Charles L. Webster & Co.).1 His triumphs as Mark Twain, on the other hand, set him apart from authors like Herman Melville, with his famous 1851 lament to Nathaniel Hawthorne, "dollars damn me," and E. C. Stedman, who complained at the 1886 annual dinner of the Typothetae of New york City: "We professional authors are looking for spoils, and we haven't yet gotten our fair share. The publisher takes 60 per cent of the proceeds, gives 30 to the printer, and generously leaves the author 10. The only safe plan for us is to turn publisher like Mark Twain."2 Turning publisher, however, was just one part of a larger strategy by which Clemens directed the Mark Twain business enterprise through what we would now call "brand management": he carefully mined, deployed, and directed the commercial value of his products (especially his copyrighted works)
American Literary Realism – University of Illinois Press
Published: Sep 5, 2014
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