In 1952 Farmer decided to quit his job to become a full time writer and entered a contest sponsered by Shatsa Publishers and Pocket Books. After working day and night on the story he managed to get the manuscript for "Owe for the Flesh" in the mail on the last day. At first it seemed he made the proper decision as he won the contest and the $4000 prize, a lot of money for a writer in those days. Shasta did not pay him however and claimed that Pocket Books wanted some revisions and cuts before they would publish the paperback version of the book. Phil finally hired an agent who discovered that Pocket Books had payed their share of the prize money to Shasta long ago. Shasta had used the money to promote another book which was a flop. Shasta eventually filed for bankruptcy and never paid the prize money.