The one thing that hobbles most writer’s recognition is the crowd they are lost within. If the literary world were at all honest (which it is not) it would admit that Hemingway was not unique and neither was Poe. For every top seller there are at least a hundred undiscovered writers of equal or better quality. Even Tolkien and Rowling fit into this category.
Now this is not to say that what those previously-mentioned folks did not turn out quality stuff, not at all. What it does mean is that somewhere along the line they either got lucky or someone involved in the publishing world decided to take a chance and give them some much needed exposure. Once exposed the rest was as easy as falling downhill. Good writing sells itself, once it is out of the crowd to be seen. So if you cannot find an agent or a publisher with a pair, and more and more they simply do not exist, how do you rise above the crowd? That’s a very good question.
Here’s a suggestion or two: Consider an E Book publisher. With the advent of the Kindle, the Nook, the iPad and about a dozen other reading devices there is no reason to insist on the traditional brick and mortar publishing house. In fact, there is every reason to believe that eBooks will outnumber paper in the next very few years. Because the cost to publish and distribute a eBook is so much less than even a paperback more and more publishing houses are quite willing to give the unpublished writer a shot. It is something to think about.
Create a website for your writing: think about it, even dead authors have websites and since more people search the web than buy newspapers your potential audience is literally in the billions. If even 1% of that audience likes your stuff you are suddenly more popular that the number one New York Times Best Seller. My site is http://www.tonymandolin.com
Back up your site by joining forums, adding a blog, social media etc: I’m still working on this one as, as is the case with most writers, I’m not all that gregarious except on the keyboard. This type of publicity works well because you can post samples, get feedback and actually generate the beginning of a fan base, and believe me, it is out there just waiting to be groomed.