For decades, the publishing business has worked pretty well. Writers write books; agents sell those books to publishers; publishers make the books available to the market. Money flows through the system from reader to writer via the publisher and agent. Everyone involved makes money, and gets what they want.
The publishing process—and the flow of money through it—begins to break down when the people involved in it aren't up to scratch.
You've written a book but your writing is so poor that you can't get an agent or a publisher to take you on? Learning to write well is the Old Model for writers, and therefore outdated. Publish your book yourself, then you'll have books in your hand within a week which you can sell direct to your own readers, mistakes and all!
You want to be an agent but you lack the expertise, experience and contacts you need to sell books to publishers? No problem! Make your money direct from writers! There are plenty of them and if they’re paying you direct, you can do away entirely with submitting to publishers. This New Model saves you both time and money!
You're a publisher, but can't sell your books to readers? No problem! Sell them to your writers instead! They’ll not be put off by poor writing or mistakes in their own books, so you can do away with editors; and you won’t have to employ sales people to get your books into bookshops (not that they’d stock them anyway, with all those mistakes in them), as your authors will buy their own books online, direct from you. Your New Model for Traditional Publishing will earn you a heap of cash—and you won’t even have to read any submissions. Just stick them out there as fast as they’re submitted, and watch the cash roll in.
Be very wary of new models of publishing. The old one works just fine.
[Note: this piece first appeared on my blog last June but somehow moved itself back into my list of draft posts, along with a couple of others. I will republish them all when the schedule allows. If you have read it before, apologies for the repetition; if you haven't, then please ignore this!]