Self-publishing is the future. Traditional publishers are going to morph into pure marketing firms and play a smaller role as their percentage of the royalties drops. Fairly soon, there won't be traditionally published authors, not in the same sense of the phrase. Authors will hire them, not the other way around.
And why should any author, especially skilled ones, choose 17.5% royalties over 70% royalties? There were quite a few people in that other thread judging all self-published work as bad, but there's virtually no reason for skilled authors to go the traditional route, either.
"Sifting through the crap to find gems" is not your problem. It is Amazon's problem, and the problem of each distributor. They need to improve their site layouts and update their search algorithms. Have you noticed that even Amazon is terrible for browsing books? That will change. The system is already substantially self-regulating, as readers vote with their money... and it will become more effective as time goes on. Concerns over whether the market is 'flooded with indie dreck' are pointless. Nobody will ever see the 217,000,000th book that sits at the bottom of the lists, because it's terrible. It won't affect a single thing.
You know what the problem really is among authors who espouse negativity instead of trying to boost the community along?
Our metrics don't matter.
- Word count doesn't matter anymore. It's a relic of traditional publishing. Readers don't care how long a story is as long as the meat is all there and the ideas are complete - in fact, in many cases, they'll never know how many words your book was.
- Writing skill doesn't matter nearly as much as writers want it to. The keys are effective communication and entertainment (varying by genre of course). Readers in general don't really care if a work lacks good diction and good prose (re: Twilight) and they don't even care about overusing adverbs (re: Harry Potter). The dreck you hate at the top of the lists is there because readers know exactly what they're buying - and the dreck delivered it.
- People need more material now. They want a dozen good books by their chosen author, not one gigantic perfect one (because readers lack the ability to assess good writing). Self-publishing allows authors to produce much faster than traditional publishing and make a living now rather than five years down the line - and the works can still be fantastic if you're any good.
- The age of ideas is back in a whole new way. The world is more open, more full of honed ideas, more hurried, and humans are adjusting to a new way of absorbing books and the ideas therein. Internet-using readers are looking for a larger space of ideas than traditional publishing can provide. Those same 'gatekeepers' that 'judge' works to save us all from 'dreck' also eliminate most radical ideas. Authors are free to be as creative as they want with self-publishing.
- Life is moving faster. A relevant book needs to be published now, read now - not distributed two years down a pipeline. Self-published authors can have a book available for sale immediately.
And if you can't see the benefits of these things, you're just shooting yourself in the foot.
Let me put it to you this way: are you trying to make a living writing? What does a living constitute? $5k a month -> $60k a year? Any self-published author who worth can make $5k a month and live his dream. Going full-time with self-pub will allow them to produce more, produce what they want, and to build their skills. As a culture, we're going to have more and better authors than ever before. Every single category, no matter how obscure, will have fantastic authors dedicated just to that genre.
Be one of those people. Don't pray for some ridiculous fat cat in a top hat and monocle to 'approve' your life's work. Get it out there now and cut out the negativity and complaining. Self-publishing is an opportunity - TAKE IT!