The Business Model for Pulp Fiction

I was having a really interesting discussion the other day about pulp fiction and the Golden Age of short stories.  The cheaper publishing costs plus the popularity of the magazine format plus the space exploration obsession of the age made for fertile grounds in the short form fiction arena.

So the argument in said discussion was that we are no longer living in the Golden Age for short stories.  The form isn't as mainstream as it used to be, which, therefore, means that you can't make a living as a short story writer.

This really got me thinking.  And you know what?  I call bull on that statement.

You know who really made the money during pulp fiction days?  The publishers.

You know how the authors made money?  By writing constantly.  Guys like Ray Bradbury were PROLIFIC writers.  They had to constantly churn out new stuff in order to make a living.  And even then it wasn't like most of them were making millions.  At best, most of these authors "got by."

So the excuse that it's no longer the Golden Age of Short Fiction is not a valid one.  Short stories have always been a hard sell.  It was probably even harder back in the day because there was so much more competition.

But what's interesting is that the business model hasn't changed at all.  Only the medium.  Pulp fiction writers had to write constantly and send their stuff out everywhere until they got nibbles and eventually a paycheck.  Same goes for ebooks today.  The only way to make money with short stories is to publish as quickly as you can put out quality work and to post your story on every single online book selling channel you can find.

You gotta love short stories or leave 'em.


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