A reader writes:
Publishing a novel has been my life-long fixation. I've always been a hack, writing crap while getting paid to be a flak (14 years in PR). So, when I got fired from my last PR job a year ago I put my head down and wrote. The result was "Gone Postal" a political thriller for The Daily Show crowd. After shopping it around, I found a small press that was interested in publishing it.
Unfortunately, the deal fell through. For years I'd told myself if I couldn't get someone else to publish my writing I wouldn't go the vanity press route. After coming so close (and promising the thing to friends) I decided to go ahead and self-publish (I used createspace). What with blogs, twitter, and all the self-publishing vehicles available, it's ridiculously easy to publish crap.
Somewhere in all that crap is the best crap no one's ever read.
The biggest upshot of the self-publishing revolution is the greater likelihood of people finding the crap that means something to them rather than having experts tell them what crap should mean something to them. To survive, the publishing industry needs to figure out how to make money in that environment because there are tens of thousands of individuals working on the same problem and nowadays the gap between Random House and chuckleheads like me has never been narrower.