A Parisian bookseller, having pegged author Honore de Balzac as a promising young writer, decided to offer him 3,000 francs for his next novel. When he discovered that Balzac's address situated him in a squalid quarter of the city, he dropped his price to 2,000 francs. When, visiting the writer's home, he saw that Balzac was living on the top floor, his offer dropped to 1,500 francs. Finally, he entered Balzac's garret, where he found the man dipping a stale roll in a glass of water—whereupon he dropped his price to 300 francs.
The manuscript in question? La derniere fee (1823).
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Balzac was so poor while writing La Comédie Humaine that he had to lock himself up in a secret writing room to hide from his creditors.