More and more authors will inevitably move towards self-publishing now the world is changing. After all, they offer little to new writers today, and they confirm this is true by closing their doors to submissions. They rely on 'heroes of old' to keep them going - and agents finding new blood. But agents will start to disappear as well if things don't improve for publishers. Agents cannot live on stagnation. Hello publishers! You do not have a sustainable plan.
Conventional publishers should perhaps ask themselves the question of what their new role can be in such a world. Let's start with the fact that much of what is self-published is actually mediocre. There, perhaps, lies a clue. Perhaps the new role of a publisher should be to filter out the good writers from all that chaff. Make it worthwhile for new authors to consider approaching them. As more and more bookshops close, the old sale-or-return model is defunct. Instead, put exciting new authors on the shelves, go back to the old notion that bringing new talent to the fore was the way forward. Why not? Yes, it would force booksellers to choose their stock more carefully, but that is what all other retailers do, after all. New talent is, after all, the new way forward. And if conventional publishers get rid of returns, they can afford the extra cost of selling by print-on-demand methods. Do not despise it, embrace it instead! PoD is the ace which should be up your sleeves. PoD profits are not eaten away by returns. Sales actually mean SALES! And, guess what, as a result of greater numbers, PoD printing would become much cheaper for publishers - and further increase their profits.
A new model like this can support publishing new authors: in both print and eBook. It could also lead to profits and, with profits, there is the opportunity to actually employ people to rummage around in a slush pile again!