As a writer I feel the same way towards the retailer and publisher as a farmer feels towards the supermarkets - they call the tune, if the profit margin isn't right and the niche targetted it doesn't matter how quality your product is, you're out.
Editors expect agents to do their work for them. Agents expect you to have paid one of the legion of bottom-feeding 'consultants' to get your submission up to scratch so they'll even look at it.
It's a buyers' market and you have to be not just excellent, marketing driven, and very lucky, but prepared to be poor, especially if you're relying on the internet for your audience. Only a few can get to the top of the pyramid.
It's similar in the music industry. Music currently is going thru a big shakedown. My partner's got a band and her own label and finds it almost impossible to get paid gigs - how do you make being a musician pay when everyone expects music to be free?
She reckons in a couple of years musicians are going to have to come up with some radical new ways to get noticed and an income stream. The market's super-saturated.
Writing's the same.
So where can we go from here? In the end, the way things ar now, I think the reader is losing out.
Here's an idea: what about a 'fair trade' 'organic' label where you know the writer gets a good deal and the editor really cares? As with supermarkets, the industry might find the public will pay the premium.