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What a 1925 Ad for The Great Gatsby Tells Us About Book Prices

If you were a Princeton undergrad in 1925, and you happened to be reading lacrosse team news from the school newspaper, you might well have stopped and glanced at this ad for the brand new novel from F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby.
If you were to buy said novel, it would cost you $2, or $26.18 adjusted for inflation -- roughly the price of a hardcover today.
As The Awl found earlier this year when it compared several decades worth of New York Times best sellers, the cost of a new book in the U.S. has stayed remarkably even over time. By contrast, if you bought a movie ticket back in 1925, it would have cost you around $0.25, or $3.27 in present dollars. Today, it would run you around $8.00.
The average family is now vastly more wealthy than they were in the '20s, which in turn means books are much more affordable. But it's fascinating to see that publishing houses have essentially been finding new material and debuting it at roughly the same price point for almost a century. I can't say precisely why that's the case. But if I had to guess, I'd venture that it's because the production of a book hasn't fundamentally changed much since Fitzgerald's days, while film making been completely transformed. Publishers are also a frighty bunch, prone to worrying about the death of their industry, and nervous about hiking the price of a bundle of pages in a digital entertainment world. That just might have something to do with it too.


Fitzgerald quotes



 “It’s just that I feel so sad these wonderful nights. I sort of feel they’re never coming again, and I’m not really getting all I could out of them.”  This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald


 “Youth is like having a big plate of candy. Sentimentalists think they want to be in the pure, simple state they were in before they ate the candy. They don’t. They just want the fun of eating it all over again. The matron doesn’t want to repeat her girlhood — she wants to repeat her honeymoon. I don’t want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again.” F. Scott Fitzgerald, in This Side of Paradise


 “That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”        F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby)


 “There was one of his lonelinesses coming, one of those times when he walked the streets or sat, aimless and depressed, biting a pencil at his desk. It was a self-absorption with no comfort, a demand for expression with no outlet, a sense of time rushing by, ceaselessly and wastefully - assuaged only by that conviction that there was nothing to waste, because all efforts and attainments were equally valueless.”     F. Scott Fitzgerald


 “It was a gray day, that least fleshly of all weathers; a day of dreams and far hopes and clear visions. It was a day associated with those abstract truths and purities that dissolve in the sunshine or fade out in the light of the moon.”       F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise


 “Youth is like having a big plate of candy. Sentimentalists think they want to be in the pure, simple state they were in before they ate the candy. They don’t. They just want the fun of eating it all over again.” F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise


 “…it was only the past that ever seemed strange and unbelievable.”          F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise


 “Out of the deep sophistication of Anthony an understanding formed, nothing atavistic or obscure, indeed scarcely physical at all, an understanding remembered from the romancings of many generations of minds that as she talked and caught his eyes and turned her lovely head, she moved him as he had never been moved before. The sheath that held her soul had assumed significance - that was all. She was a sun, radiant, growing, gathering light and storing it - then after an eternity pouring it forth in a glance, the fragment of a sentence, to that part of him that cherished all beauty and all illusion.”- F. Scott Fitzgerald , The Beautiful and the Damned


For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you have a life you’re proud of. If you find you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”  F. Scott Fitzgerald


 “This is a valley of ashes—a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air. Occasionally a line of gray cars crawls along an invisible track, gives out a ghastly creak, and comes to rest, and immediately the ash-gray men swarm up with leaden spades and stir up an impenetrable cloud, which screens their obscure operations from your sight.” - F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby 


 “She felt a little betrayed and sad, but presently a moving object came into sight. It was a huge horse-chestnut tree in full bloom bound for the Champs Elysees, strapped now into a long truck and simply shaking with laughter - like a lovely person in an undignified position yet confident none the less of being lovely. Looking at it with fascination, Rosemary identified herself with it, and laughed cheerfully with it, and everything all at once seemed gorgeous.”  Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald


 “And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”             The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald


 “He wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy. His life had been confused and disordered since then, but if he could once return to a certain starting place and go over it all slowly, he could find out what that thing was.”     F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby


 “Life is so damned hard, so damned hard… It just hurts people and hurts people, until finally it hurts them so that they can’t be hurt ever any more. That’s the last and worst thing it does.” F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned.


 “It was always the becoming he dreamed of, never the being.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald


 “I’m not sentimental—I’m as romantic as you are. The idea, you know, is that the sentimental person thinks things will last—the romantic person has a desperate confidence that they won’t”  F. Scott Fitzgerald - This Side of Paradise


 “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”  F. Scott Fitzgerald


“I like people and I like them to like me, but I wear my heart where God put it, on the inside.” F. Scott Fitzgerald


 “I want to give a really BAD party. I mean it. I want to give a party where there’s a brawl and seductions and people going home with their feelings hurt and women passed out in the cabinet de toilette. You wait and see.” Dick Diver, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night


 “You’re the only girl I’ve seen for a long time that actually did look like something blooming.”         F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night


 “…and there was never any doubt at whom he was looking or talking — and this was flattering attention, for who looks at us? — glances fall upon us, curious or disinterested, nothing more.”  F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night


“I hope she’ll be a fool - that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”           F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby


 “Don’t let yourself feel worthless: often through life you will really be at your worst when you seem to think best of yourself; and don’t worry about losing your “personality,” as you persist in calling it: at fifteen you had the radiance of early morning, at twenty you will begin to have the melancholy brilliance of the moon, and when you are my age you will give out, as I do, the genial golden warmth of 4 p.m.”  F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise


 “She doesn’t think; her real depths are Irish and romantic and illogical.”            Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald


 “That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”   F. Scott Fitzgerald


 “And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow fast in movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”          F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby)


 “That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.” —    F. Scott Fitzgerald


 “If we could only learn to look evil as evil, whether it’s clothed in filth or monotony or magnificence.”  This Side of Paradise, F. Scott Fitzgerald


 “You see I usually find myself among strangers because I drift here and there trying to forget the sad things that happened to me.” —   F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby


 “The world exists in your eyes only. You can make it as big or as small as you want.” F. Scott Fitzgerald


 “For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”  F. Scott Fitzgerald


 “It seemed that the only lover she had ever wanted was a lover in a dream.” F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Beautiful and Damned.


 “It was only a sunny smile, and little it cost in the giving, but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.” F. Scott Fitzgerald


 “I fell in love with her courage, her sincerity, and her flaming self -respect. And it’s these things I’d believe in, even if the whole world indulged in wild suspicions that she wasn’t all she should be. I love her and it is the beginning of everything.”        F. Scott Fitzgerald


 “In the dead white hours in Zurich staring into a stranger’s pantry across the upshine of a street-lamp, he used to think that he wanted to be good, he wanted to be kind,he wanted to be brave and wise, but it was all pretty difficult. He wanted to be loved, too, if he could fit it in.” Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald


 “There’s so much spring in the air - there’s so much lazy sweetness in your heart.” This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald


 “I tried to go then, but they wouldn’t hear of it; perhaps my presence made them feel more satisfactorily alone.”  The Great Gatsby


 “It’s just that I feel so sad these wondrous nights. I sort of feel they’re never coming again, and I’m not really getting all I could out of them.” F. Scott Fitzgerald


 “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”  F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby)


“In a real dark night of the soul, it is always three o’clock in the morning, day after day.” F. Scott Fitzgerald.


F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'new' story rounds out our view

The New Yorker has just done a favor for all of us who are admirers of F. Scott Fitzgerald and "The Great Gatsby." Earlier this month, the magazine published a story of Fitzgerald's, "Thank You for the Light," that it rejected in 1936. In so doing, it opened up the whole question of what we should expect from posthumously published writing.

The New Yorker got its second chance at "Thank You for the Light" because Fitzgerald's grandchildren found it while going through his papers for an auction at Sotheby's. It wasn't the first Fitzgerald story to be discovered after his death. His uncompleted final novel, "The Last Tycoon," was edited by his friend, the literary critic Edmund Wilson, and published in 1941, a year after Fitzgerald died from a heart attack at the age of 44.

In the case of "Thank You for the Light," the good news is that the one-page story required no editing. It stands as Fitzgerald wrote it, so we don't have to wonder about his intentions.

Most writers who have their work published after their deaths have no such luck. Their unfinished art is finished by someone else, and they lose the authority death should give them over what they meant to say.

Ernest Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast," an account of his Paris years in the 1920s, was published in 1964, three years after he died, with only one added feature -- the title, supplied by Hemingway's friend, A. E. Hotchner, on the basis of a remark Hemingway made to him. But in 2009, the book was extensively reworked by Hemingway's grandson Sean, who didn't like what it said about his grandmother, Pauline Pfeiffer, Hemingway's second wife.

Ralph Ellison, who died in 1994, had equally bad luck with his posthumous novel, "Juneteenth," which was published in 1999. Ellison, who had started it decades earlier, left no instruction about what he wanted done with his work, and it took his literary executor, John F. Callahan, more than three years to whittle down some 2,000 pages of typescript and printouts into 354 pages. We will never know what Ellison, the author of the 1952 classic, "Invisible Man," had in mind for his second and final novel, a tale of the relationship between a black preacher and a bigoted Northern senator.

Hemingway, who suffered from depression, and Ellison, who suffered from pancreatic cancer, were in fragile condition when they died. It's understandable why their executors felt free to make changes in both novelists' work. Neither writer was in full control of himself at the end of his life.

Still, for most of us a flawed work -- true to an author's original intentions -- seems preferable to a tidy work that may be misleading. That's why the "new" Fitzgerald story is so interesting.

In the case of Hemingway and Ellison, the posthumous publication of their writing did not add to their reputations. Publication simply gave us more of them to read. Even today, it's not clear that their last books would have found a publisher if they'd been written by unknown authors.

Fitzgerald is a different case. In "Thank You for the Light" he has taken on a central character, Mrs. Hanson, who is the very opposite of the wild and ambitious Jay Gatsby, who lived so lavishly on Long Island's North Shore. In rejecting the story in 1936, the editors of The New Yorker wrote, "It seems to us so curious and so unlike the kind of thing we associate with him and really too fantastic." The editors were right -- but that's why Fitzgerald's story deserved publication.

Mrs. Hanson, who sells girdles and corsets, is "a pretty, somewhat faded woman of forty," so desperate for a cigarette that she stops in a church for a smoke and believes the Virgin Mary has lit her cigarette. She shows us a softer side of Fitzgerald. She's a figure he never would have been interested in at the height of his powers.

Mrs. Hanson lets us see that during 1936, the year he was also writing "The Crack-Up," his personal account of his own depression, Fitzgerald had widened his sympathies. He had outgrown his need to be spokesman for the Jazz Age or distance himself from his most eccentric characters.

"So unlike the kind of thing we associate with him," indeed. And that's exactly the point.


Things to Worry About: (Complete) Letter from F. Scott Fitzgerald to his daughter, Scottie


La Paix, Rodgers’ Forge

Towson, Maryland

August 8, 1933


Dear Pie:

I feel very strongly about you doing duty. Would you give me a little more documentation about your reading in French? I am glad you are happy — but I never believe much in happiness. I never believe in misery either. Those are things you see on the stage or the screen or the printed pages, they never really happen to you in life.

All I believe in in life is the rewards for virtue (according to your talents) and the punishments for not fulfilling your duties, which are doubly costly. If there is such a volume in the camp library, will you ask Mrs. Tyson to let you look up a sonnet of Shakespeare’s in which the line occurs “Lillies that fester smell far worse than weeds.”

Have had no thoughts today, life seems composed of getting up aSaturday Evening Post story. I think of you, and always pleasantly; but if you call me “Pappy” again I am going to take the White Cat out and beat his bottom hard, six times for every time you are impertinent. Do you react to that?

I will arrange the camp bill.


Halfwit, I will conclude.

Things to worry about:

Worry about courage

Worry about Cleanliness

Worry about efficiency

Worry about horsemanship


Things not to worry about:

Don’t worry about popular opinion

Don’t worry about dolls

Don’t worry about the past

Don’t worry about the future

Don’t worry about growing up

Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you

Don’t worry about triumph

Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault

Don’t worry about mosquitoes

Don’t worry about flies

Don’t worry about insects in general

Don’t worry about parents

Don’t worry about boys

Don’t worry about disappointments

Don’t worry about pleasures

Don’t worry about satisfactions


Things to think about:

What am I really aiming at?

How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:


(a) Scholarship

(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?

(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?


With dearest love,



P.S. My come-back to your calling me Pappy is christening you by the word Egg, which implies that you belong to a very rudimentary state of life and that I could break you up and crack you open at my will and I think it would be a word that would hang on if I ever told it to your contemporaries. “Egg Fitzgerald.” How would you like that to go through life with — “Eggie Fitzgerald” or “Bad Egg Fitzgerald” or any form that might occur to fertile minds? Try it once more and I swear to God I will hang it on you and it will be up to you to shake it off. Why borrow trouble?


Love anyhow.

F Scott Fitzgerald's 1936 piece finally appears in print

'His newly published vignette, Thank You for the Light, suggests that Fitzgerald's faith – in life, in art, even in Catholicism – may have lapsed, but it never expired'

F Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda in 1921. Photograph: CSU Archives/Everett Collection/Rex Features

You might expect that a writer as celebrated as Scott Fitzgerald would have no unpublished material languishing in archives – but you would be wrong. Perhaps as many as 15 short stories that he was unable to sell have never appeared in print; many more have been published once and then forgotten; a few have been lost.

Several were stories Fitzgerald "stripped", by which he meant that he pulled his favourite sentences and used them elsewhere, afterwards considering the stories unsuitable for publication. Most of the stories he couldn't sell were written during the Depression, in the mid-1930s; sections of several found their way into Tender is the Night.

Last week, the New Yorker published for the first time a 1936 vignette called "Thank You for the Light", without explaining its history – perhaps because that history begins with the New Yorker rejecting it.

Throughout the 1930s the New Yorker published the occasional Fitzgerald sketch, as well as a poem ("Obit on Parnassus"). In 1937, they bought a sketch called "A Book of One's Own", which opens: "In this age of drastic compression, it is the ambition of all the publishers I know to get everything worth reading into one little book." So Fitzgerald proposes "a new super-anthology": "All you want to read in one pocket-size volume! A miracle of book-making." Prescient as ever, he recommended binding it "to look like a small radio". Fitzgerald's first piece for the magazine, "A Short Autobiography", comically told his life up to 1929 through a catalogue of cocktails.

Seven years later, the cocktails had caught up with him, and it was no longer funny. On 19 June 1936, desperate for cash, he sent his agent "Thank You For the Light", suggesting that it might be suitable for the New Yorker: "It's an old idea I had hanging around in my head for a long time." The New Yorker rejected "Thank You for the Light" (and then rejected a poem called "Thousand-and-First Ship"). Seventy five years later, Fitzgerald is famous enough to have received his acceptance slip at last; the irony would not be lost on him.

The summer of 1936 was a difficult one for Fitzgerald. From February to April 1936, he had published the essays in Esquire magazine that are now well known as The Crack-Up, the articles that helped invent confessional journalism, in which he revealed the collapse of his life and his hopes, and his determination to save himself with his art. Contrary to the impression most people have, The Crack-Up pieces never mention Fitzgerald's alcoholism: that was the main cause of the fracture (although Zelda's mental illness certainly contributed), but Fitzgerald was too firmly in denial to admit his alcoholism in public.

The book we consider Fitzgerald's masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, had been largely dismissed when it appeared in 1925. Fitzgerald spent the next nine years struggling with his drinking, and Zelda's breakdown, before pinning all his hopes on Tender is the Night in 1934. It received mixed reviews and sold poorly; its failure pushed him over the edge. He was hospitalised four times for alcoholic breakdowns over the next two years, reaching the bottom of his personal abyss at the end of 1935. "My life looked like a hopeless mess there for a while," he wrote later, "and the point was I didn't want it to be better. I had completely ceased to give a good god-damn."

'Thank You for the Light", finished a few months after The Crack-Up essays were published, is certainly slight, but it acquires more poignancy in this context. It is about addiction: in the story Mrs Hanson is addicted to cigarettes, but Fitzgerald's deep knowledge of the mechanics of addiction drives the tale. And it is a story about starting to give a good god-damn again.

The symbolically (and magically) returning light at story's end is too trite for a writer of Fitzgerald's calibre, to be sure, but the story has one small, tired flourish: Mrs Hanson thinks that her cigarette is "an important punctuation mark in the long sentence of a day on the road". The pun is not accidental – language, for Fitzgerald, was always a release from imprisonment.

"Thank You for the Light" suggests that Fitzgerald's faith – in life, in art, even in Catholicism – may have lapsed, but it never expired. A year or so later, he would begin work on his last, unfinished novel, The Last Tycoon. Mrs Hanson's lit cigarette is not a green light at the end of a dock, but it's an image of renewed faith, and signals the beginning of Fitzgerald's struggle to regain his capacity for hope – his greatest theme of all.


Sigourney Weaver

Sigourney Weaver was born Susan Alexandra Weaver in Manhattan, New York City, the daughter of Elizabeth Inglis (née Desiree Mary Lucy Hawkins; 1913–2007), an English actress, and the NBC television executive and television pioneer Sylvester "Pat" Weaver (1908–2002). Her uncle, Doodles Weaver (1911–1983), was a comedian and actor. She began using the name "Sigourney Weaver" in 1963 after a minor character (Sigourney Howard) in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby.

Man who lives in F. Scott Fitzgerald's St. Paul birthplace wants to keep legacy alive

Retired University of Minnesota professor Dick McDermott stands in his St. Paul bedroom on Thursday afternoon, August 16, 2012, the same space where F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in 1896. McDermott is donating a quarter-million dollars to create a new non-profit celebrating F. Scott Fitzgerald's life in the city.
Retired University of Minnesota professor Dick McDermott, 85, sits in the living room of his St. Paul residence where F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in 1896. McDermott is creating a nonprofit organization celebrating writer F. Scott Fitzgerald's life in the city.
He didn't know it at the time, but Dick McDermott drew the lucky straw.
Between the dozen people who stepped up in 1975 to buy and renovate 12 condos in the 400 block of St. Paul's Laurel Avenue, McDermott picked the second story of 481.
Everyone knew that, according to his birth certificate, F. Scott Fitzgerald was born somewhere at that address. But it wasn't until several of the owners-turned-occupiers were caroling across the street one Christmas that an elderly woman filled them in on local lore. The second story was where the novelist was born.
Since then, McDermott, 85, has been letting up to a dozen people each month into his apartment.

"If I'm out on the porch watering plants and see they're from out of town, I
often invite them up," he said of the tours that often pass his six-unit building. "The happenstance of my living here has transformed my life."
Now, McDermott -- in hospice with terminal lung cancer -- is thinking of ways to continue Fitzgerald's legacy.
He thought about donating the condo in a multi-unit building to a foundation -- but the legal complications made him decide against it.
"To have a nonprofit own it, would they sit on a board? How involved would they really be?" Plus the thought of tour groups trudging up several flights of stairs, past his neighbors, didn't seem particularly appealing.
Instead, McDermott decided to sell the condo and use $250,000 from his estate to start a new nonprofit, the Fitzgerald in Minnesota Fund.
"In the last, somber days of my life, this wonderful thing has developed. ... I want to keep it alive."

Several years after the building at 479 and 481 Laurel was built in 1893, Fitzgerald's family moved in. He was born there in 1896, and his family lived there until he was 2.
The neighborhood changed, the apartment was split into three units and the building, as well as an identical one next to it, fell into disrepair. In 1974, it was declared unfit
The condominium at 481 Laurel Avenue in St. Paul.
for habitation, and a local group stepped in to stop it from being torn down.
The group found a dozen buyers -- one for each unit -- including McDermott. A University of Minnesota professor of speech, language and hearing sciences who lived in Roseville at the time, McDermott yearned for more tight-knit relationships with his neighbors.
As for the idea of owning the apartment where Fitzgerald was born, "I had known of him, but hadn't known a lot," McDermott said.
He and two others drew straws for the apartments at the 481 address, but it wasn't until all of them moved in in 1976 that they learned the second floor had once housed the Fitzgeralds.
A woman who lived across the street, "who had to be in her 90s," and who offered the renovators a drink of water every day when she saw they were fixing the buildings up, finally informed them of what many in the neighborhood knew, McDermott said.
"You folks, you don't know how you've added years to my life," the woman told them, according to McDermott, who was 48 at the time.
McDermott retired from the university in 1991 and has been inundated with visitors since. Mostly academics, they come from as far as Mongolia and Iran to see their favorite author's birthplace. He has accumulated a comprehensive library of Fitzgerald's works and absorbed minutiae from countless passing scholars.
Some of that, he hopes, will remain.
The new nonprofit -- which has been registered with the state but has yet to receive federal 501c3 status -- seeks "to promote the history and artistic work of the author F. Scott Fitzgerald," particularly in the St. Paul area, and preserve his legacy.
Exactly how it will do that is still in the works, but some ideas include an annual prize for local writers, using funds to add to the Fitzgerald holdings at the St. Paul Central Library and sponsoring an annual conference.
McDermott is hoping his quarter-million stake will lead to additional donations.

Sell your heart out, advice in sales fromF. Scott Fitzgerald

Every professional writer is selling.
Their work is their product. They have to build their brand, push their product, and get it in the hands of publishers and readers.

The Great Gatsby author, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

In 1938, The Great Gatsby author, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a letter to an up and coming author, Frances Turnbull about his work, advising him ways to write better and sell better.

There are 4 lessons a modern-day sales rep should carry over from this letter. Full transcript below.

1: Sell your heart

Fitzgerald understood the ability to connect with a reader — or in our case, a buyer. When we call prospects everyday, helping them feel the pain your product solves is vital. Do this by selling with your heart. Your product solves a problem, wrap that problem and the feelings associated with it, in a conversation so your prospect can feel what you do.

2. You only have emotions to sell.

When you initiate your first call, you don’t have a demo, marketing collateral, or anything else. All you have is yourself and your emotions. Sell them, get to the next step in the sales cycle…hopefully that includes marketing collateral, a demo, and a great product.

3. Tell stories to connect.

It was necessary for Dickens to put into Oliver Twist the child’s passionate resentment at being abused and starved that had haunted his whole childhood. Ernest Hemingway’s first stories “In Our Time” went right down to the bottom of all that he had ever felt and known. In “This Side of Paradise” I wrote about a love affair that was still bleeding as fresh as the skin wound on a haemophile.

Fitzgerald uses examples from Dickens, Hemingway, and himself as ways to tell a story to connect with the reader. In sales, stories are powerful. Learn how to tell them…with emotion.

4. Talent only gets you so far.

You have talent—which is the equivalent of a soldier having the right physical qualifications for entering West Point.

Being a great speaker or insanely smart doesn’t make a great sales rep. The ability to connect with your reader/buyer by developing an emotional connection does. Keep practicing your sales skills, use emotion to connect with your buyer and keep us updated on how it goes.

—- Full transcript —-

(Source: F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters; Image: F. Scott Fitzgerald, via.)

November 9, 1938

Dear Frances:

I’ve read the story carefully and, Frances, I’m afraid the price for doing professional work is a good deal higher than you are prepared to pay at present. You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner. This is especially true when you begin to write, when you have not yet developed the tricks of interesting people on paper, when you have none of the technique which it takes time to learn. When, in short, you have only your emotions to sell.

This is the experience of all writers. It was necessary for Dickens to put into Oliver Twist the child’s passionate resentment at being abused and starved that had haunted his whole childhood. Ernest Hemingway’s first stories “In Our Time” went right down to the bottom of all that he had ever felt and known. In “This Side of Paradise” I wrote about a love affair that was still bleeding as fresh as the skin wound on a haemophile.

The amateur, seeing how the professional having learned all that he’ll ever learn about writing can take a trivial thing such as the most superficial reactions of three uncharacterized girls and make it witty and charming—the amateur thinks he or she can do the same. But the amateur can only realize his ability to transfer his emotions to another person by some such desperate and radical expedient as tearing your first tragic love story out of your heart and putting it on pages for people to see.

That, anyhow, is the price of admission. Whether you are prepared to pay it or, whether it coincides or conflicts with your attitude on what is “nice” is something for you to decide. But literature, even light literature, will accept nothing less from the neophyte. It is one of those professions that wants the “works.” You wouldn’t be interested in a soldier who was only a little brave.

In the light of this, it doesn’t seem worth while to analyze why this story isn’t saleable but I am too fond of you to kid you along about it, as one tends to do at my age. If you ever decide to tell your stories, no one would be more interested than,

Your old friend,

F. Scott Fitzgerald

P.S. I might say that the writing is smooth and agreeable and some of the pages very apt and charming. You have talent—which is the equivalent of a soldier having the right physical qualifications for entering West Point.

— End Transcript—


The New Yorker’s 1926 Profile of F. Scott Fitzgerald

This week, The New Yorker publishes “Thank You for the Light,” a 1936 short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald that was originally rejected by the magazine decades ago. Fitzgerald’s work did not always meet with rejection from The New Yorker’s editors: between 1929 and 1937, he published three short stories and two poems in our pages. The stories were brief and humorous in nature. Perhaps the most notable was “A Short Autobiography,” in which Fitzgerald gave a chronology of his life in terms of alcoholic beverages imbibed. Here’s a taste:

The Sazzarac Cocktails brought up from New Orleans to Montgomery to celebrate an important occasion.

Red wine at Mollat’s. Absinthe cocktails in a hermetically sealed apartment in the Royalton. Corn liquor by moonlight in a deserted aviation field in Alabama.

Leaving our champagne in the Savoy Grill on the Fourth of July when a drunk brought up two obviously Piccadilly ladies. Yellow Chartreuse in the Via Balbini in Rome.

Kaly’s crème de cacao cocktails in St. Paul. My own first and last manufacture of gin.
Three years before his first byline in The New Yorker, Fitzgerald was the subject of a Profile by John C. Mosher titled “That Sad Young Man.” (In those early years, the magazine’s Profiles were much shorter than those published today—Mosher’s piece on Fitzgerald is just two pages long.) The pleasures of the bottle are referred to by Mosher at the opening of his piece, as he describes the arrival of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald on the Riviera for the summer season: “There were rumors that Scott had had a sip or two of something up in Paris, and had come South to rest.” Mosher’s primary concerns, however, were the Fitzgeralds’ money and celebrity:
[His] popularity on two continents may explain something of the financial mystery which so appals him. Ever since “This Side of Paradise,” money has poured in upon this young couple, thousands and thousands a month. And just as fast it has poured out. Where it goes, no one seems to know. Least of all evidently, the Fitzgeralds. They complain that nothing is left to show for it. Mrs. Fitzgerald hasn’t even a pearl necklace.
The Profile was published a year after “The Great Gatsby” appeared to critical praise but disappointing sales. That novel, which we now think of as Fitzgerald’s signature achievement, is referred to only obliquely by Mosher, who can’t help taking a dig at the famous author’s spendthrift ways:
Very deliberately he has taken as the field for his talent the great story of American wealth. His research is in the chronicles of the big business juntos of the last fifty years; and the drama of high finance, with the personalities of the major actors, Harriman, Morgan, Hill, is his serious study. He saw how the money was being spent; he made it his business to ferret out how it was being cornered.
Although Mrs. Fitzgerald once bought a bond, no young people, with such an income, are more far removed from the ordinary affairs of business. A twenty-dollar-a-week clerk must know more of the practical business world than Scott Fitzgerald who can not live on thirty thousand a year.

The typist's tale of 'Last Tycoon'

Years after 'Gatsby,' F. Scott Fitzgerald's secretary got to witness the second act of an author who didn't believe in them.

All these years later, Frances Kroll Ring can still see it, the afternoon she filled out an application at Rusty's Employment Agency on Hollywood Boulevard and drove to Encino to meet a writer who was looking for a secretary.

It was April 1939, and she was 22, a Bronx transplant with typing and dictation skills. She'd been in Southern California for a little more than a year, coming west to help her father, a New York furrier, set up shop on Wilshire Boulevard. "Everybody said, 'You're a furrier? What are you doing in Southern California?' " Ring remembers. "But he knew the studios used furs. Because then the actresses used to be dressed to the gills."

At 92, Ring is elfin: small, spry, dressed in black pants and flat shoes. Her gray hair is short but not close-cropped and when she laughs, which is often, she reveals a toothy grin. Her house on this quiet spring morning in Benedict Canyon is full of books and mementos; a drawing by author William Saroyan hangs on one wall. Sitting at her dining table, sipping coffee, she looks back to the afternoon that started it all.

"At the agency," she recalls, "they asked if I knew Scott Fitzgerald and I said I wasn't really sure. I hadn't read Fitzgerald then. I'd read Hemingway, who was the big muck-a-muck." This was not unlikely: By 1939, 14 years after the triumph of "The Great Gatsby," Fitzgerald had been essentially forgotten, much of his writing out of print. Now he was in Los Angeles to hack it out for the studios, struggling to support his wife, Zelda, institutionalized in North Carolina, and their daughter, Frances, known as Scottie, a student at a boarding school back east. He was an alcoholic recently recovered from a nervous breakdown; he hadn't published a book in four years.

Ring, however, didn't know any of that when she went "over the hill" to where Fitzgerald was living. She also didn't know Fitzgerald was planning his own literary resurrection, a novel that, notes Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer A. Scott Berg, "promised to be his best book." That was "The Love of the Last Tycoon," the Hollywood epic on which Fitzgerald worked, with Ring's assistance, for the last 20 months of his life. Left unfinished at his death in December 1940, the book would be instrumental in rehabilitating Fitzgerald's reputation when it was published in 1941.

"She's the last real witness," Berg points out, "along with Budd Schulberg" (the 95-year-old author of the classic 1941 Hollywood novel "What Makes Sammy Run?") "to Fitzgerald as a working writer. She had a front row seat for a year-and-a-half." Novelist Steve Erickson calls her "a living connection to an American culture that cared about writing and literacy . . . She is the keeper of a literary flame in a city that has always had more literature than it gets credit for."

Ring has, on occasion, told her story; in 1985, she published a slender memoir, "Against the Current: As I Remember F. Scott Fitzgerald," which was made into the 2002 Showtime movie "Last Call." But she's also deeply protective of her time with Fitzgerald -- "she didn't want to seem to be exploiting it," suggests Erickson -- which explains why so few know about his final months.

From the start, Fitzgerald was frail, if focused. He had just returned from a disastrous trip to Cuba with Zelda -- the last time they would see each other -- and was recovering from the bender the voyage had become. "He was lying in bed," Ring says of their first meeting, "and he asked me all kinds of questions. Then he gave me some money and asked me to wire it to his daughter -- and to call him when I was done. That was his way of testing my honesty. He was only in his 40s, but he was fragile. The kind you wanted to help. He was very pale and had very blue eyes, and he was a charmer."

Toward the end of the interview, Fitzgerald asked Ring to open a drawer in his bedroom; "Instead of shirts or underwear or whatever one might expect to find in a bureau drawer, there were gin bottles," she writes in her book.

It's not clear, exactly, whether Fitzgerald was warning her about what she was getting into or letting her know what he was trying to overcome. One possibility is that it was another test, another indication of the need for discretion, of the type of closeness that working with him would require. "He told me he was going to do a novel about Hollywood," Ring says. "That was another thing: Could he trust me? Because he didn't want anyone to know what he was doing."

Fitzgerald wasn't, at first, able to work. "He wasn't organized yet," Ring says. "We did letters. I could type, I could do letters, I could do bookkeeping because I used to take care of my father's stuff. And at the beginning, he wanted to sit and talk. He was in bed most of the time, or he'd get up and pace around. He'd talk about books, and I was well-read, which intrigued him, because a lot of the secretaries were not well-read. There were other functions for them at the time and I wasn't that kind of girl."

Indeed, Ring became something of a surrogate daughter to Fitzgerald, keeping him company, helping him get back into writing shape.

"What's fascinating," muses Berg over the telephone, "is that in the end, here is Scott Fitzgerald, his wife in the asylum, his daughter at school on the East Coast, and he falls in love with another blond and in many ways adopts another girl named Frances -- like his daughter -- and replicates the family. It's spooky to me, eerie, almost like a parallel universe."

The blond was Sheilah Graham, the gossip columnist with whom Fitzgerald began a relationship in 1937. Eventually, he would move into her apartment on Laurel Avenue in West Hollywood, but when he was still in Encino, Graham would visit in the afternoons. "She would roll down her stockings," Ring chuckles. "It was a signal for me to leave."

Although there were, she admits, "drunken periods," mostly it was a time of stability. "He had a daughter to whom he felt total responsibility," she reflects. "He felt he was the one solid family member -- and he was."

This responsibility manifested in a variety of ways, beginning with his work on "The Last Tycoon." As Fitzgerald zeroed in on the novel, he dictated notes and character sketches, outlined chapters and scenes. "The book was meticulously planned," Ring says. "By the time he started to write, he knew who his characters were and what the struggle was between them."

"The Last Tycoon" is the story of Monroe Stahr, a Hollywood boy wonder who Fitzgerald saw as a sensitive soul, artistic even, in a cutthroat business. The key, Ring suggests, was Fitzgerald's notion of the novel as redemptive, a way to make use of everything he'd observed in Hollywood, to take its degradation ("I hate the place like poison with a sincere hatred," he wrote to his agent in 1935) and transform it into literature.

Fitzgerald wrote "on long sheets of paper," Ring remembers, "yellow pads. He had a big, scrawling hand. I would type it up triple-space. And then he would redo it." He worked all the time: on the novel; on various film projects, including an adaptation of his own "Babylon Revisited"; and on the 17 "Pat Hobby Stories" that he wrote for Esquire, which were published, beginning in January 1940, at $250 apiece. In his introduction to "The Pat Hobby Stories," collected as a book in 1962, Esquire editor Arnold Gingrich quotes from the many wires Fitzgerald sent seeking payment: "Again the old ache of money," the author writes. "Again will you wire me, if you like it. Again, will you wire the money to my Maginot Line: The Bank of America, Culver City."

Partly, this had to do with his commitments to his wife and daughter, spread out across the country like distant satellites. "He never could get to the book," Ring says, "because he constantly needed money. He'd knock out a short story and then he'd get a week at a studio, sometimes two weeks. He couldn't turn it down."

Yet, the sheer volume and quality of the work he was doing says something else about Fitzgerald, putting the lie to the myth that he burned his talent out. Rather, the last 20 months of his life represented a creative resurrection, a rebuttal to the author's own assertion, in the pages of "The Last Tycoon," that "there are no second acts in American life."

In fact, Ring continues, Fitzgerald was fiercely aware of his reputation, of the split between the work he was doing and the way the culture had passed him by. "He would get angry if he got rejected by an editor at Collier's who he had no regard for," she says. "He would go crazy. He was essentially a gentle man, but he would get so furious at being rejected. But his strength was that he didn't give up. A lot of guys would have gone to seed. He went to drink, but he controlled the drink. The work was more important than the drink."

Some of this toughness, it seems, wore off on Ring; she took care of the details when Fitzgerald died of a heart attack at age 44 on the Saturday before Christmas 1940, at Graham's apartment, where he'd moved after having had a first heart attack a few months before. "I had to arrange," Ring says, "for the body to be shipped back because the funeral was back east. He was alone out here. Sheilah was not that kind of help. She was hysterical. By some odd quirk, he had put away $700 in cash, which he told me about; the payment for the burial and the coffin came to just under $700. I always thought he must have called at one point to find out, that he lived with a premonition of death, in a sense."

Then, in 1941, she faced down the formidable critic Edmund Wilson over the posthumous edition of "The Last Tycoon," critiquing his summary of the book's unfinished chapters and arguing that "a few colorful background facts will make Stahr more memorable even though so much of the novel has to peter out in synopsis form."

These experiences served Ring well; in the 1940s, as a reader in the story department at Paramount, she was arrested for picketing during a divisive eight-month Hollywood strike involving the Conference of Studio Unions.

She was married at the time, but 25 years later, after the death of her husband, she reinvented herself as the editor of Westways, the magazine of the Automobile Club of Southern California, which she built into a powerhouse, publishing Saroyan, Carey McWilliams and Anaïs Nin.

Listening to Ring now, it's impossible not to imagine the young woman she must have been, as if in death Fitzgerald had left her to be his advocate. Such a feeling lingers. The connection feels almost physical, distinct in its own way from space and time. It's not that Ring is living in the past -- she isn't -- but that here at the top of Benedict Canyon, the past is somehow present, the borders are porous.

The sensation grows when Ring mounts the stairs to the second floor, where in a small office are three first editions ("Tender Is the Night," "Taps at Reveille" and "The Great Gatsby") that Fitzgerald inscribed to her, as well as a King James Bible he gave her father for having recut a fur coat for Scottie in the style of the time.

Ring takes up the books one by one, reads aloud the inscriptions. "This one is my favorite," she says, holding open "Taps at Reveille":

Frances Kroll

She has a soul

(She claims to know it)

But when young Frances

Does her dances

She don't show it.

From the bald headed
man in the front row,

Scott Fitzgerald

"The Gayieties"


But it's the Bible that provides an unexpected coda, bringing Fitzgerald into the room in an almost three-dimensional rush. The book is boxed, although the box has long since broken and is held together with a rubber band.

Slowly, carefully, as if she were invoking her two fathers -- one physical, the other figurative -- Ring opens it and removes a letter, written in pencil and folded into an envelope.

It's a note of thanks:

"Dear Mr. Kroll, I want to add my thanks to Scottie's for the beautiful cutting of the coat. It is perfectly magnificent and we are so happy to have it. Not having seen her for fourteen months, I took pleasure in imagining her face when she got it -- her surprise and delight.

"It was a grand Christmas present, much greater than I would have been able this year to give her myself. . . .

"With all good holiday wishes."

After the signature, there's a P.S.: "The pencil is the result of writing in bed for the present."

"He always had to do that," Ring says, laughing softly, "to put that little tag on. To draw attention to his illness. He was a hypochondriac." She pauses. "But this time it was true. He didn't have the energy. This was Dec. 14, just a week before he died."

The room grows close, quiet. You can almost feel Fitzgerald there. The pencil marks on the unlined paper look so fragile, vulnerable even, and in them is contained everything he was up against.

"I was invested in Fitzgerald," Ring says, refolding the letter. "Because you couldn't be with him and not know how desperately he wanted to write another good book. He was out of it, and he was just too good to be out of it."