There's one unsettling thought my cynical mind keeps entertaining: I'm starting a journey towards becoming a published author during an untimely period, economically speaking.
I finally get around to taking my writing seriously, only to look out my window and see the sky is falling. Wonderful. At the rate publishers and literary agencies are circling the wagons, only Norah Roberts and James Patterson will have novels put into print.
Then there's the state of periodicals and magazines. I visited Duotrope and Ralan a couple of months ago, looking for a few prospective markets to send short stories to, and now I wonder how many are left. City Slab died. Dark Wisdom is closed to submissions. Apex is teetering apparently, if their doomsday blog premonitions are accurate. The recession is putting the squeeze on everything, and isn't letting up.
If I had the cash, I'd be more than happy to subscribe to a few of these magazines, anthologies, and periodicals. You know ... support the cause, as it were. Unfortunately, my contributions are relegated to scrounging for older editions I come across in the used bookstores. A few from Analog, a couple from Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Alfred Hitchcock/Ellery Queen mags—the earliest edition I have is from 2003.
I received a copy of Writer's Market 2009 for Christmas. I imagine if I bothered to, I could black out half the publications listed in the thing, either due to being closed to submission or closed entirely.
Idealists might say that it's the quality of the writing that sells, not the reputation and marketability of the author. In 2009, I wonder if those idealists are buying novels from first-time authors. I look at the NY Times bestseller list from time to time,I see very familiar names, and hardly any of them are greenhorns.