From Wilson MacDonald's Western Tour, 1923-24 published by Coach House Books in 1975.
Dear Lorne Pierce,
I went to Saskatchewan on Oct 31st and was given a great reception. Dr Wilson, head of the English department of the University, met me at the station with his car and took me to the hotel. Mrs Dr Sommerwill met me there and welcomed me in the name of the University Women’s Club under whose auspices I was to speak. Next morning I called at the bookstores with Mrs Sommerwill and sold McMillan 25 and the two other stores 12 each. At noon I addressed the Kiwanis Club and at 3 PM went to an afternoon tea at the University. At 4:30 I addressed the University students and at 8 PM read before the University Women’s Club.
At my readings I have been dividing profits on my books with the Arts-Tabernacle Society. Now please keep this a secret as I don’t want every other writer in the country to do likewise. I have made several discoveries as to the methods of selling books and the secrets are between you and me.
It would be grossly unfair if you put another writer out here next season and let him adopt the methods I have discovered at great cost.
Bliss Carman’s visit to Regina resulted in the sale of about 20 books. My visit sold hundreds.
If I do not sell books at my reading the booksellers will not buy them. If I do go to a bookseller and say: “I sold 50 books at my reading” he will take 25 or so.
Every book sold means a book that is shown to scores of people—hence if I sell books at my reading the bookseller will sell 10 times as many as if I did not do so.
Now, as I am the first writer who ever sold books in this country at his own readings, this secret is not for publicity.
I am going to try and get my pass extended in Vancouver. They will wire Montreal. My opera is to be presented in Regina on my return trip and I will not reach Toronto before Feb 15th. This will leave two months for my Ontario or Nova Scotia tour.
The money I made in Saskatoon and Prince Albert (where I received a wonderful reception) amounted to nearly $100 over expenses. This money I sent back to Dempster the baker in Toronto to pay back his loan in September. He loaned me $100 to get my teeth fixed and to get underclothes and shirts for the trip.
My next $200 will pay off my remaining debts in Regina and Toronto. I don’t mind poverty but debt makes me wild.
Two enclosures: to Dr Pierce $11.40
to Ryerson Press 8.00
Hoping you are feeling better,
P.S. send all future mail c/o Tom McInnis, Vancouver, Glenson Lodge