Tuesday, June 19, 2012

History sends me spiraling into depression

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.



Stephen D. Rogers said...

Hey Michael,

Three dollars a word ... the mind boggles.


Brian Drake said...

Once again this proves that if time travel were possible I would go back to those days, buy a Royal, and start work immediately. Then I would come forward in time to read about my amazing contributions to Black Mask!

sandra seamans said...

Jeez, and Max Brand's agent thought he did well getting Brand 4cents a word from Star Westerns, (and for 200,000 words!). We still have a big gap between literary (glossies) and genre (pulp) pay, don't we?

Anonymous said...

Be happy.
Enjoy life.
Don't stress over the little things.
Don't quit.
Don't ever quit.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Amazing he was getting that back then. Just amazing.