How H. L. Mencken Helped One Writer Land a 6-Figure Book Deal

By Maryann Yin Comment

Nonfiction writer Ryan Holiday (pictured, via) said he landed a six-figure book deal by following the nearly century-old advice of author and editor H. L. Mencken.

In 1932 Mencken, who was working as an editor at The American Mercury, told a young John Fante: “editors are not interested in your personality.” In other words, write a simple pitch and let your writing do the rest.

Here’s a Mencken quote from Holiday’s essay in Forbes: “Always remember that strange editors are not interested in your personality, but only in your work. If you tell them that you are down with leprosy, or about to be hanged, it only harrows their feelings without helping them in the slightest to do their jobs. Thus they resent it. When you send manuscripts to editors you don’t know, say nothing whatever. Simply put your name and address in the upper left hand corner of the first page, insert your stamped and addressed envelope, and let it go at that.”