"Met Ray Bradbury in a second hand book store, and consequently learned about fandom (and met Forrest J Ackerman [Mr. Nuetzel's agent--ed.]). In my fan years became a very close friend of E. Everett Evans, and still have many manuscripts inscribed by him to 'my no. 1 fan.' Though his help and that of his wife, Thelma, I learned something about writing: a story should have a sub-plot. I did for a while publish a fanzine better forgotten. Was a great Edgar Rice Burroughs fan, and have what was called by ERB's secretary the last books he autographed: no other proof but the shaky hand-writing. I'm told that my grandfather, editor of a local newspaper at the time ERB had his Tarzana ranch, knew him casually; again, no proof.
"My father, now semi-retired [died June 18, 1969--ed.], was a commercial artist all his life, working for the motion picture industry. To please his son, he did sf covers in the fifties for several magazines, including F&SF, Amazing, and Fantastic. All of which might seem to have little to do with myself as a writer. Not so!
"As Forry Ackerman is now saying (probably to please me): 'Ray Bradbury burned his first two million words; Charles Nuetzel sold his.' To which I silently add: maybe I should have burned mine too.
"But the point is that a writer can do one of several things: write just for the fun of it, and never even try to get published; write and write and write until you're good enough to get published in the good markets (burning all the crud, like Bradbury did); or write and write until you're just good enough to be published in the lowest crummy market possible, and keep writing as fast as you can, learning on the job. My father taught me that an artist can sit up in an attic and paint for himself--and starve--or he can use what talents and abilities and tricks he has, and direct them to a commercial market to make a living.
"Thus: my first year of professional writing was done in the following manner: I took a title, put it on the top third of the page, picked a penname, and then wrote until the story was finished. Most of the time I never read what I wrote, but sent it to Forry Ackerman, who suffered through something like a hundred manuscripts that first year. Needless to say, he didn't make much money as my agent, even though he did give me a pretty fair sales record for a first year pro writer. I was told by Forry not to write for sci-fi markets, since this was not the "pulp" field. Thus the stories were on subjects I'd sooner say nothing about. I used over a dozen pennames.
"Thus: being a great lover of the way Edgar Rice Burroughs made his money (to say nothing about the man who created Perry Mason) , and lovingly calling them 'hacks,' I consider myself a professional 'hack,' and wish to God I could be as much of a 'hack' as the two above-mentioned writers. Not that I expect this to happen--but we all have our dreams .
"Every science fiction writer and fan has heard Ray Bradbury say over and over again: 'Write, write, write, until you get all the bad words out of your system. . . . don't slant. . . .write about what you hate and love violently. . . .' A quote, in Mr. Bradbury's defense, deriving from my very weak memory. And while I very much admire the Ray Bradbury type of artist-writer, I disagree with him on one basic point: do slant and do write to sell as much as possible, and most importantly, attempt not only to write all the bad words out of your system, but also all the bad plots . You can use pennames to hide behind when the writing and/or subject matter is such that you don't wish to take credit for it. Save your own name for things you wish to think of as 'quality.'
science fiction are for the adventure-romance
(i.e., ERB) and social satire; this is fairly evident in my two recent
books, Swordmen of Vistar and
Images of Tomorrow, each
which shows a totally different side of my writing nature. The Swordmen
of Vistar has been updated and offered an Epilog, never presented in
the pocketbook edition, which finishes off the storyline of Thoris of
Haldolen, at: Swordmen of
Vistar. Images of Tomorrow was almost totally
revamped as seperate ebooks at Fictionwise.com.
"I am very strong on the first few words of a story. 'The beautiful mountain' ís not at all as interesting as 'If the beautiful. . . .' Words like 'if' and 'but' are far more 'grabbing' than words like 'the,' 'a,' etc. I also believe of course that the immediately following words (right through to the end of the story) have importance. What they say must contain plot, sub-plot, theme, conflict--in other words, a damned good story. But those first words should cause the reader to start reading, should get him interested in what follows . And then it is the responsibility of the author to keep him or her hooked, until hopefully the reader will throw down the finished book, and say, 'God, that's one hell of a story!'
very simple: to be successful and to make a
lot of money. I'd like to do more than simply write and package books
publishers--I have nothing at all against cutting out the middle man,
pocketing the remainder. I enjoy seeing books filled with words that
off my typewriter--for a few moments, at least. I enjoy seeing
of my work. Like many writers, I have a big ego in that direction. It's
gratifying to be told that there's someone out there who likes what you
write. The other day Robert Bloch dropped me a short note in which he
kind enough to say that he spent an enjoyable rainy Sunday afternoon
Swordmen of Vistar: that's the kind of boost writers need more
The above material was originally edited from letters I sent R. Reginald, who published it in "STELLA NOVA; THE CONTEMPORARY SCIENCE FICTION AUTHORS compiled and Edited by R. Reginald, Copyright 1970 by Unicorn & Son, Publishers.
points out that "... the more respectable a publisher
the less important it is for our purposes [of study], and the most
publishers, biblioeraphically speaking, are the fly-by-nights, which
difficult and sometimes insoluble problems of identification. It is the
Purpose of this article to examine the short-lived publishing venture
one such fly-by-night publisher in an attempt to arrive at an
Clues have been presented by the publisher, inadvertently or not, and I
shall attempt to show how these clues can help to establish the
of the publisher. The books I shall deal with here are eight in number,
called Scorpion Books, published by N.A.C. Publications from June 1964
to October 1964. A checklist of the books is presented as
the book number, the title, the author, publication, number of
price and the distributor's logo. The cover artist on all was Gus
a pseudonym to be dealt with later. There is no indication as to where
the books were published.
101 WILD SPREE Jay Davis June 1964 158p .75 GSN
102 WANTONS OF BETRAYAL Alec Rivere June 1964 158P .75 GSN
103 HOLLYWOOD NYMPH Stu Rivers July 1964 160P .75 GSN
104 LOVERS 2075 Charles English August 1964 160p .75 GSN
105 SEX QUEEN Stu Rivers August 1964 160P .75 GSN
106 JUNGLE NYMPH David Johnson October 1964 155p .75 GSN
107 WITH PASSIONS BURNING Fred MacDonald October 1964 156P .75 GSN
108 NOBODY LOVES A TRAMP Alex Blake October 1964 159P .75 GSN
The first hint of where the books were published can be ascertained from the distributor's logo, GSN, the initials for Golden State News, a California-based distributor.
Let us now turn to an examination of the authors of the books. From "Contemporary Authors" it was learned that Alec Rivere and Charles English were known pseudonyms of Charles A. Nuetzel, a somewhat prolific author in the fields of science fiction and soft-core pornography. In an unpublished checklist of another soft-core Pornography publisher, Pike Books, I knew that Nuetzel had used, besides the Alec Rivere name, John Davidson. The John Davidson name is an important clue to uncover because it leads to the possible identification of David Johnson and Jay Davis as variations of the Davidson pseudonym. The Davidson pseudonym also shows up on the title page of an Anchor Publications book, WL110, SEX CULT MURDERS, on which the cover and spine carries the name of Fred MacDonald. That leaves us with only Stu Rivers and Alex Blake to be accounted for.
It then occurred to me that N.A.C. Publications represented the initials of Charles A. Nuetzel reversed and that Nuetzel himself was most likely the author, as well as the publisher, of all the Scorpion Books and that Stu Rivers and Alex Blake could be added to the author's repertoire.
As to the
name, the biographical account of Charles Nuetzel
in "Contemporary Authors" showed that he was the son of Albert Augustus
Nuetzel and Betty (Stockberger) Nuetzel, which added up to the artist's
pseudonym, Gus Albet.
Thus, in the final analysis, it appears that Scorpion Books was a small family-run cottage industry operations out of California.
manuscript of this article has been in my files
for the past six or seven years. Since that time, the article on Pike
was published in BAE #18. One day last year, during a chance
with Lynn Munroe, I brought up the subject and asked if he could check
with Forry Ackerman, since he was Nuetzel's agent, whether any of the
could be verified. Better than that, Ackerman passed on Nuetzel's phone
number to Lynn.
[I, Charles Nuetzel, am compelled to write here that I'm continually amazed beyond words at the detective work that this man did. It is amazing how well he picked out the clues and put them together. As to the reasons for the Scorpion Books being a "cottage" industry: it was Bob Pike, of Pike Books, who suggested that I should package my own books, since I knew how to do coverlines and my father was able to do the covers--why did I need a "publisher" like him? A point well taken. So I took advantage of such chances to do more than just write books, since I wanted to get work for my father, too. It turned out nice for both of us; and especially nice insofar that we were collaborating on such projects together. Super-powerful stuff for a son. The end result was the packaging deal I made with Powell Publications, where I could supply or buy the manuscripts and have dad or another artist do the covers.]
[The following is based, in part, on material published in Contemporary Authors, Volume 105, which can be found in most local libraries.]
Author of more than one hundred books under dozens of pseudonyms. Publisher/packager of more than 45 books. Contributor of short stories and articles to numerous magazines, including Jade, Cocktail, Vertex, If Worlds of Science Fiction, Spaceway, Famous Monster of Filmland, Knight. Editor of Powell Sci-Fi series) pocket books); Also did my stint doing some graphics for several magazines covers. I have sat on both sides of the editorial desk, both as author/editor.
In these different roles I have learned a lot about how each side looks at the issues and problems involved in putting out a publication. As author/editor/publisher I have discovered there are more reasons for accepting or rejecting a story than quality--sometimes it can be length, theme, or even how cheaply you can get the story; for some other big named writer will demand a higher price-tag for their words. Budget, in other words. Deadlines can have a lot to do with what you buy and from whom. Sometimes you favor one writer or group of writers for many reasons, such as their need to make a living--and you need to depend on a good source of professional material delivered on time. Sometimes a great story will be rejected because the publisher already has bought something much like yours. There are other situations when the publisher is simply a closed-shop, buying only from a few writers or agents--and nobody else. So go the breaks.
I started writing in 1960, willing to do whatever was necessary to get published in the commercial marketplace. That first year I wrote some 100 short manuscripts, selling about two a month. In 1961 my agent, Forrest J Ackerman, called and asked if I could give him some twenty thousand words in one week (half a short "novel") for a possible pocket book sale. I started writing almost immediately upon hanging up the phone, developing an approach to novel-plotting that I used many times since; a novel is a series of incidents leading up to a short story. I did from 30-40 pages a day and finished the first draft in one week. I ran the novel through the typewriter at the editor's request, though only after his acceptance of the book. That was my first novel sale.
The above is not to suggest I deserve gold stars; only that writing, at least for people like myself, must be entered into as a hard-nosed business. I learned about plotting, sub-plotting, character development, etc., with the help of some writer friends and by reading a few books and taking the Palmer Institute of Authorship course. Then by writing a lot of words. I was told that quality came with quantity. The important thing is to get to a point where you can sell stories to publishers. Writing is a business; it must be approached as such. This is hardly a romantic concept of writing, but it is basic fact for writers like myself. I'm still learning my craft and will continue to learn every time I put a piece of paper in the typewriter.
I believe that it would be foolish of me to miss this chance to say a few things about writing as a career. As a career it is a combination of ecstasy and hell--demanding, difficult, pestering, brain-bashing, and at times very exciting. The number one trap to avoid is the Number Game. Oh, how easy it is to fall into the trap of saying, "My, I did X number of words today, now if I can do that many each and every day...." It takes years of writing to discover through painful experience just how many words it is possible to rush through the typewriter per day, week, year. Only then is it possible to set realistic goals and to approach deadlines in a manner that is not destined to totally ruin one's heath and nerves. You learn to accept the daily payoffs of writing to offset the negatives. "You don't gotta work eight hours a day"-- you can spend more time in activities that are of interest to you. (Don't feel guilty about enjoying your spare time, because even these activities are of value to your professional output. The author can draw upon ever experience, physical, mental, emotional.)
I will do everything I can to talk the beginning writers out of trying to become professional, full-time authors. I suggest they learn all they can concerning grammar and English and about writing itself. If they have not been turned away from the insane idea of writing, I used to say (pre-computer days) go buy ten reams of paper (500 sheets per) with the idea of filling them with words. The more words you write, the better writer you become. (That don't mean you will become a great or even a good writer. But the only way to improve is to write write write.) I would say, for the most part, stay away from writer's clubs. (Sure it is nice to be with other writers, to have people listen to your tales, even give you feedback, and place to talk talk talk writing. The feedback, for a raw beginner, can be nice--later it becomes counter-productive. The business of becoming a published writer is putting words on paper and having those words printed in a place that reaches as many people as possible. A writers club or friends and relatives is just too limited an audience. And if you talk out your stories, you dull the need to progress to the point where you write or finish them and submit them to editors. Keep the fire for the creating and finishing of the story--hold your ideas close, and spew them onto the white page/surface and then polish them. And make them ready for the editor's eyes.] Writer's clubs can serve, in the beginning, as a support group, but in the long run the only thing that matters is the keyboard (be that a pc or a typewriter) and the white substance (pc screen or paper) you put the words to. And go about working hard to impressed only THE EDITOR. That means the fella that will see to it you get accepted for publication and, hopefully, sent a check for the rights to publish your golden words. Without THE EDITOR you have nothing but paper--which has been, for all useful purposes, ruined by the ink you have managed to press onto its otherwise clean surface. We buy paper cheap and we mess it up with ink and then we try to sell the paper to THE EDITOR for more money than we paid for it. Pure business, in the end. [Unless you are into it for ego. Then get a website and use that to "publish" all the writing you wanna "publish"--and hope somebody finds it and reads your lovely, wonderful, golden, jewel-like, immortal words.]
If I sound harsh, difficult, cold-blooded and not romantic, well, so be it. The business of writing is not romantic. The business of creating can be. The necessity of writing from your guts makes the difference between crud and an interesting and vital manuscript. And the joy of writing comes when you are involved in the creative process, when you shout or you laugh at something you have just typed. [I have been frowned at and finger-wagged at by my wife, a more serious soul, for laughing like an insane madman while writing. She can't understand why I'd laugh at my own stuff.] The point is, of course, if it don't entertain yourself there's very little chance it will entertain somebody else. Even when it entertains you, that don't mean anybody else will do more than moan and groan in total boredom.
at best, sometimes thrilling and exciting.
But the business of getting published is a totally different
You revise at editorial demand, willingly and happily. That is if
you want that editor to buy your words, pay for and publish them.
And the end-game is to get published so you will be communicating with
the general public. Communication is the point of it all; and the
larger the audience the more communication. Simple as that.
The harsh, personal reality of writing is that we do create for the pure pleasure it can bring to us and for the hoped for pleasure it may give some others.
But, then, again, there is the egomanic
part of my personality. I have updated a number of my published
books, done some editing and revising and uploaded them for Fictionwise.com to market on the net as ebooks, and a
special page has been added to my website offering up the covers and
links to the books at: Announcing New Ebooks.