I think the article mixes together two separate things when it says, “many editors are no longer committing to new writers with the expectation that their story-telling skills will evolve with the second, third and fourth books. ... "Writers like Anne Tyler and Elmore Leonard have to simmer quite a bit before they are going to boil. Publishers no longer have the patience to work through multiple modest successes," Mr. Kirshbaum says. "There is a real danger that these people could be lost today."
Read more of the WSJ story here.
Leonard published his first novel in 1953. Tyler published her first in 1964. Ebooks have really only been popular for a couple of years. Since I first started trying to get published, in the early 1990s, I’ve been hearing that editors no longer build authors. And who knows if they ever did? Did Leonard or Tyler get advances back then that amounted to a living wage?
Looking at the WSJ article, Slate says, “It offers absolutely no evidence that literary fiction writers are more affected by this phenomenon than, say, commercial fiction writers, nonfiction writers, science and technical writers, or anyone. It also assumes that the e-reader phenomenon is responsible for the trend, whereas it wouldn't be that hard to find people who could tell you that advances were declining well before e-readers had much of an impact.