Overall, it seems to me there's a heavy helping of paranoia out there. And we all know how healthy that is. Nothing like paranoia to get people hiding their savings in secret safes. Better build that bomb shelter while you're at it.
That might sound a little rude, but seriously, can we all chill out here a little? Yes, I know change is scary. I know we're all trying to get into (or stay in) a business that is increasingly hard to crack. But no matter how much things change, no matter if there are secret societies blocking you, no matter if the four horsemen swoop down and demolish publishing, no matter if self-publishing goes all French Revolution on books, there is still only one thing that matters:
A Good Story.
Stories will never die. We have all of human history as example. Millions of stories over thousands of years. People love stories, no matter the form. So if you have a good story in you, chances are people will want to hear it in one way or another.
If you get a case of the paranoia, don't forget this. Because it's truth. Yes, maybe knowing someone can get your book to the top of some pile, but that doesn't matter jack if it's not well-written and the person doesn't connect with it. Yes, maybe publishing is struggling, but it will not die—we won't let it die. Who the crap wants it to die? There is so much we can do to encourage and support reading and books, in whatever form.
But I do understand the paranoia, really. I've been there many a time. When I was querying my dragon book, I thought maybe people were out to get me. I got a lot of requests—more than with any other book. Why? Because the query was awesome. The query also was miles better than my book, because I'd had more people revise my query than my manuscript. So partials got rejected over and over, and I got frustrated because I didn't understand. They liked the query! They should like the book! Never mind that guilty pit in my stomach, mumbling that I hadn't revised it as I should.
And being on sub for 15 months? Oh boy, can that make you paranoid. If they think the writing is "so great," then why aren't they buying? Why won't they give me a chance? I've done everything they asked and still I can't get anyone to like it enough to buy.
It's a helpless feeling. And when I feel that way, I start looking outside myself for something to blame. There has to be some kind of conspiracy! Right? It's not my fault. I'm putting in the work. I'm doing what I'm told. So what is the deal?
Well, there isn't a conspiracy. Nor an impending apocalypse. Though, well, some kind of revolution is at hand, but let's hope it's not the French kind. It's really quite simple—there are a lot of good books out there, and only so many spots to be filled. That's always how it is in any creative field. Sometimes it comes down to having the right book at the right time, and that's all.
Write a good story, and people will want to read it. Plain and simple.