The last post here was all about the Good Old Days, when writers dealt with the business end of things via the Post Office, and not a small amount of clerical work in making submittals to agents and editors.
But things have changed. Drastically.
First, the publishing industry has changed and that affects all those persons downstream from the published manuscript. The larger publishing countries are now run by corporate entities. They don’t spend time developing writers any longer. Business dictates that profits be maximized and maximized quickly. So now, when editors at these corporations meet, each one’s job is to persuade the rest that his/her client’s “product” is the most valuable among all the others vying for preferential treatment.
This means that any necessary development of a writer will happen through a literary agent’s relationship with the writer. I’m sure that this is occurring in some agent/author relationships, but I’ve not heard of them personally. What I DO hear is that agents will work with writers on specific manuscripts, not in the context of the writer’s overall development. And what I hear in that regard as well is that agents will ask a writer to tailor the manuscript to the corporate standards of characters, genre, story flow, point of view and style of writing. Clearly this retards creativity and innovation.
But be that as it may, there may be a tremendous amount of time expended between the agent and writer, and the writer may be asked to spend a great amount of money resolving issues with the agent. In the best of cases, however, most agents are accepting digital query letters, and many of these receive quick turnaround. In many cases the writer may receive a reply to the e-query within one to three days. And many of these agents will accept electronic manuscript files, again saving the writer a great amount of money and a not insignificant amount of time in negotiating this hurdle on the way to publication.
But this applies mostly to the largest, most prestigious publication houses. In submitting to the smaller houses, the writer may very well be dealing almost completely with the publisher/editorial staff. And these are more open to innovative structure, writing style and type of style, including hybrid genre manuscripts. In these cases it’s not unusual for a capable writer to be signed immediately to a publication contract.
So the digital revolution and the corporatization of publishing are remarkably different in nature now than then. Some of these changes are good, some bad, for everyone from author to reader, and what this implies is that the digital revolution as it applies to writing and publication is not yet complete.
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