Ever wondered what exactly Gold Medal saw in the books they published? In the December 1955 issue of Writer’s Digest (Vol. 36, No. 1), Gold Medal’s Executive Editor Inez Salinger wrote in and addressed what sort of books they were looking to publish, as well as some of the overarching characteristics of the Gold Medal line (“Taboos? We have none, really.”), a brief description of the editorial procedure, and an idea of what they paid per book. An address was also given, in case writers wanted to send in their manuscripts. The cartoon above was featured right next to the Gold Medal advertisement, so I thought I would share it as well. I think it’s pretty funny, and it also reminds me of the image of Orrie Hitt sitting at the kitchen table with his typewriter that James Reasoner described on his blog.
“We are interested, indeed, in seeing mystery fiction, the backbone of almost any soft-cover publisher’s list.
“The word ‘suspense’ keynotes our mystery policy, if we have any such thing. We have found most saleable and exciting those novels which emphasize chase, atmosphere and breathless situations rather than the chess problem or more intellectual type of puzzle. Basically, we have no cut-and-dried preferences. Recently we put out three novels in quick succession by Peter Rabe, whom we consider a bright discovery and a potential shining light of the hard-boiled school. One of our most fabulous sellers is Richard Prather, whose yarns about Shell Scott, a private eye whose tongue is always planted firmly in cheek, have sold consistently in the millions. In our experience, we have found the humorous mystery novel tricky to pull off, but Prather is one of its ablest practitioners.
“Taboos? We have none, really. We ask only for good stories powerfully told that capture the reader early in the game and hold him on the edge of his chair from there on in. To make it easier on both editor and author, we like to see at least four chapters and a well-planned outline of action to come. Our twenty-five centers consist of from 60,000 to 70,000 words, our thirty-five centers from 89,000 to 120,000. We pay on the basis of print orders – a cent a copy on the first 200,000 printed, a cent and a half on each copy thereafter. Our minimum initial print order is 200,000 copies. Scripts can be addressed to any of our editors.”