A few days ago I picked up a copy of Damon Runyon's short story collection Take It Easy. Though first published in 1938, my find is a 1945 PocketBOOK wartime edition.
Last night, I started reading Take It Easy and wasn't depressed until the second paragraph of Robert van Gelder's introduction, titled "A Few Words About Runyon," where he notes that Runyon "gives two days each to the actual writing of these stories that you are about to read [...], but although he is paid for them at the rate of three dollars or more a word, this work is for him a part-time activity."
Holy Mother of God. Three dollars--or more!--per word. In the early 1930s.
At a mere three dollars per word, last year I would have earned more than half a million dollars from my short fiction.
I didn't even come close.