Yesterday, I posted a blog about the awful situation in the publishing business, re copy editors. If anyone read that blog, they will know that in effect, there aren't any. To recap, for those who haven't or don't want to read this, the situation is basically this: if you're a writer, and you expect to get noticed by an agent, you'd better be prepared to do your own copy editing, have a friend help you like I am(and I'm helping her, but she's much better at catching this sort of thing than I because she's had practice), or hire a professional editor. There are, in fact, people who do this sort of thing. But it gets worse. A lot worse.
In an article about book publishing in Canada the author doesn't say anything about having to do your own copy editing. He talks about having to do your own publicity! And I rather doubt that this is any different in the United States -- or anywhere else, for that matter. Now in the "good old days" , if you were lucky enough to get published, the publishing house would arrange book tours for you, and newspaper and TV ads. That's kind of gone the way of the typewriter. This is something else you, the writer, have to do for yourself. And writers, as a general rule, aren't that good at promoting themselves. We are often a modest bunch. Hence, the proliferation of writer's blogs and writer's websites, yours truly's included. Yeah, I know. I'm nowhere near a book deal. Yet. But still. . . . In any case, this is just another time and money burden for the writer. It's more of a burden for some of us than for others, but I suppose, if we must, we must.
All may not be lost, however. I mentioned in an earlier post about what is now called "independent publishing" that one can do things like "publish on demand" electronically, and simply let a lot of people known the book is out. I don't know how this works, but there are now "independent publishing collectives" that find places at book fairs and the like, so that the writer can get the word out to a larger audience. Since the publishing world is changing, and the writer apparently has to change with it, this may in time be a good way to go. But it's too early to tell, yet.
Perhaps some combination of blogging, as Robert Sawyer does -- he also has a website -- plus a website as many other authors have, plus a presence of some sort on a social networking site such as Facebook or MySpace will help the emerging writer create an audience for his/her work. Word of mouth was pretty much what gave the Harry Potter series "buzz", at least at first. Then the publishers knew a good thing when they saw it, and everything went from there. The publishing business is changing, and writers have to adjust to some of these changes. But all is not gloom and doom. You see, most writers aren't in it specifically for the money, although that's always nice, if it happens. If they were, they'd probably be dreaming up computer games or inventing "killer" apps for your computer. In any case, I think that, if a writer believes in what he or she is writing, and is willing to go the extra mile, they'll find an audience in time. It might be niche audience, but that's better than none. So the best thing, in my opinion, is to hang in there, write the best book or story you can, and persist. If you do, I'm an optimist. You will eventually be rewarded for your efforts.