She rightfully pointed out that the publishing industry is evolving too, and that not every self-published writer is a traditional-publishing reject. I certainly did not mean to imply that kind of absolute, so I replied with this:
Good points, but I don't assume every self-published author is a traditional publishing reject. The vast majority of them are, however, and I mean VAST, or they haven't even tried traditional publishing. A very small percentage of those self-published authors do have the ability to write a polished novel, and those are the authors whose names drive a lot of not-so professionally skilled into thinking they can do it too.
I agree that there's no doubt that the industry is changing, though. Possibly in the future there is no middle-man (agent/editor/publisher/bricks and mortar book store) between all who want to write and their dreams for publication. Publication, then, will become a true meritocracy. Every book will go out and have an equal chance of drumming up its own word of mouth or buzz or whatever will replace a traditional publishing push to sell books.
I think, though, in the foreseeable future that there will still be arbiters of acceptance whose imprimatur will be worth an unknown writer's time to achieve, whether they are responsibly edited magazines, e-zines, traditional publishers, e-book publishers, or the future equivalent of Oprah. Those arbiters of acceptance will be the ones who will promote the writing that will instantly gather more attention because they have marked it as one of their own for all to see.
As long as those arbiters of acceptance exist, self-publishing will be the slow road for the vast majority of unpublished writers who hope to achieve the levels of professionalism that they think they've already gained.
By the way, I reread what I wrote above, and the tone sounds a shade snotty and all-knowing to my ear. Whatever "professional" writing is, I don't know the secret. I often imagine myself treading water mightily, occasionally breaking the surface to breathe a bit of that professional publishing air, but most of the time frantically beating my arms and legs, looking up at the surface I can't quite reach. Every time I've sold something it has felt like a bit of a miracle, and I can tell you that many of my publishing friends, some of them with much more extensive bibliographies than mine, feel exactly the same way.