Just keep working at it. It took me eleven years and two agents to get a contract with a small publisher. I'm thrilled. If I had given up, I wouldn't be looking forward to seeing my debut novel in print this year. Yup, slush piles are huge, yup, it's hard to find an agent. Look to small publishers when you run out of agents to query.
J.E. got you beat by nineteen years in searching for publisher/agent/ etc. Had agents. Did find a small publisher or two to take me on. And as you might expect. . . the royalties are measured . . . in pennies.
I agree with IJ. There's nothing new in the article, which leans very heavily toward screenplays and teleplays, anyway. That area of endeavor has always been impossible to crack. Thousands upon thousands of so-called screenwriters stalk the streets of LA, day and night, each with a tale of someone they know who has a brother whose friend-of-a-friend might have his screenplay optioned!
I've never known a major publisher to openly accept unsolicited manuscripts. It's not like they've been doing it all along and suddenly decided not to. Technology, however, has indeed opened things up. The Web, POD, eBooks and eReaders...all combine to make it easier to avoid the slush pile altogether.
I had a novel plucked twice from the slush pile by editors and recommended for publication.
The first time the publisher who was supposed to give final approval died literally with it on his desk, putting it in limbo for 3 years.
A second editor found it and gave it to the new publisher. The new publisher has opted to let it gather dust on her desk unread for going on 2 years, with a over a year of that time spent telling me to not submit it elsewhere because a decision was going to be made any minute. Then the editor just gave up and told me to try it elsewhere in the vain hope that it might light a fire under their boss to actually read it.
I suspect the publishing industry is just as badly run as the movie industry, everyone in a position of power is just too damn busy to actually do their job.
The only thing that will get this publisher to stop being too busy to actually do what their job description calls for, is either an agent pushing it, or an offer from another publisher. But if I mention my situation to an agent, they don't want anything to do with me, so I don't mention it in my queries anymore.
What really bugged the crap out of me was when this same publisher appeared on the company forum to brag about how quickly they handle their slush pile submissions. I was tempted to call "bullshit" but held my tongue, because I don't need any enemies in this racket.
I don't know that there are proportionately more writers compared to the population as a whole than there once were, but there are certainly fewer readers and consequently fewer paying venues/publishers than there were back in the day. Aside from the obvious competition from electronic media, I think a big part of the problem is that people are working more and making less than they were in publishing's heyday, and just don't feel they have the quiet time or headspace at the end of the day to devote to reading. Reading also doesn't have the caché it might have in the '50s or '60s, say, as a sign of education or aspiration to "culture." Nobody talks about being cultured anymore--in fact, any such pretense is generally thought of as insufferably elitist. I actually think a clever marketing campaign to promote reading (Reading Is Sexy, say, with supermodels shown wearing nothing but reading glasses and copies of Swann's Way) could actually reverse that trend.