Making Big Bucks in Magazines Is Easy—and Fun!

In January, FishbowlNY attempted to crack the complex economics of Vanity Fair‘s writer-payment system:

We don’t know how much Peter Biskind gets paid to write for Vanity Fair. Or Fran Lebowitz. Or Sebastian Junger. Or Michael Wolff. But we can guess.

Admirable guesstimates of contributors’ individual salaries followed.

Well, guess no more: A writer can stand to make roughly $10 a word for a 1,500-word essay in Vanity Fair. Oh, plus a trip to Italy, bringing the value of that essay to $17,725.

Alas, those figures (well over five times industry standard) don’t apply to actual writers for “in-flight magazine of the Gulfstream jetset” (not so lucky, Jim), but to winners of this year’s Vanity Fair Essay Contest.

The topic: What is on the minds of America’s youth today? (The word “nothing” repeated 1,500 times is unlikely to win.)

Bloggers and Livejournalists, the deadline is Sept. 30, which means the winning essay won’t be running in the What is on the mind of America’s magazine editors today? issue of Vanity Fair.

—Matt Haber