waste-paper price
Note from John Milton, in Literary Anecdotes of the 17th Century

Pattison takes the traditional view of `the waste-paper price' that Milton obtained from the publisher of Paradise Lost. William Riley Parker (Milton: A Biography (1968), i. 601) suggests that the transaction should be viewed in its contemporary perspective:

`The agreement was normal enough —perhaps even generous on Simmons's part, for he was taking a big chance in publishing 1,500 copies of a poem on an unstylish subject, in an unstylish literary form, by an author who was still anathema to a multitude of people.'