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For example, here’s one fun fact: The engine of Fitzgerald’s income (at least until he went to Hollywood) was not his novels but his short stories. He considered them his “day job,” a thing to be endured because writing them would allow him the financial wherewithal to write the novels he preferred to do. And how much did he make for these short stories? Well, in 1920, he sold eleven of them to various magazines for $3,975. This averages to about $360 per story, and (assuming an average length of about 6,000 words) roughly six cents a word.To flag my own genre here, “Six cents a word,” should sound vaguely familiar to science fiction and fantasy writers, as that’s the current going rate at the “Big Three” science fiction magazines here in the US: Analog (which pays six to eight cents a word), Asimov’s (six cents a word “for beginners”) and Fantasy & Science Fiction (six to nine cents a word). So, sf/f writers, in one sense you can truly say you’re getting paid just as well as F. Scott Fitzgerald did; but in another, more relevant, “adjusted for inflation” sense, you’re making five cents to every one of Fitzy’s dollars. Which basically sucks. This is just one reason why making a living writing short fiction is not something you should be counting on these days.
Maybe it's sentimental of me, but I'd want to have the writers paid well, give them the freedom to try whatever they want, and especially have the magazine make money. So maybe the model could be a modified annual foundation grant, where the writer's major obligations are to produce so many words over the course of a year and the forms those words could take is left up to the writer. So it'd be a short story one month, a serialised novel over several months, etc.
There were also the serialised novels which used to be popular and were probably a handy little bonus to the book contract.
Especially when you compare the sales of YA to those of science fiction and fantasy (SF/F for short), which best-selling SF writer John Scalzi did in May 2008. The Bookscan numbers, which are not accessible to those outside the book industry, were provided to Scalzi by an anonymous friend. "Without mentioning specific numbers or titles . . . the top 50 YA SF/F bestsellers outsold the top 100 adult SF/F bestsellers (adult SF and F are separate lists) by two to one," he wrote at Scalzi.com. In short, Scalzi concludes, those 50 YA books sold twice as many copies as the 100 SF/F titles on the list.