Jane Smith’s How Publishing Really Works is worth a read at the best of times (if you’re interested in publishing, of course), but her five-part demolition of a “self-publishing is the future” screed is particularly delicious. Part five has just gone up; here are parts one, two, three and four.
But the people that you perceive as barriers—agents, editors, publishers—are, in fact, there to help good writers get published well, and to ensure that the reading public has access to good books, professionally produced. There’s nothing stopping anyone from putting their work on the internet if they want, or from self-publishing in print or electronic format: the technology has been there for years. The real problem for writers who can’t get published isn’t that barriers to publication exist, but that their writing just isn’t good enough.
In the comments Dan Holloway quibbles with the word “good” – he reckons “saleable” would be better, and I think he’s right; whether it’s good isn’t as important as whether it’ll sell – but you get the idea, I’m sure.