This is what I looked like when my first book was published by St. Martin's. The baby just turned 39. You can do the math. I've been in publishing so long that to give my view of it would require the Hubble telescope.
When I began, I had no agent. I sold the book over the transom when there were still transoms. I wrote it on an electric typewriter so that any changes required rewriting a whoe page or even chapter. And I had to hand-deliver the manuscript theiry miles away in a driving snowstorm. OK, the last bit may be an exageration.
Authors didn't have to arrange their own tours, but first time authors didn't get them anyway. It took me another two books even to get an idea of what was going on. Publishing still had echoes of the old "gentlemen's club" with all the good and bad that entails.
I've seen booms and crashes and the dreaded culls, where all the midlist authors are purged. The only thing I'm certain of is that the world will always need story tellers. The medium doesn't matter to me. What does concern me is that good storytelling is not being respected or rewarded and that those of us lucky (or insane) enough to make our living writing are finding it harder to do so. Is the answer to become an independent self publisher? Some say yes and that has its merits. But what about foreign sales, book clubs, sub-rights, movie deals etc.? My agent handles most of these but it would be hard for her if she didn't have a book that had been edited and packaged by professionals.
Things are changing. As an historian, I would like to point out that things are always changing. The only constant is the writer who not only tells a great story but is determined to share it with the world.