There have recently been a couple of helpful threads on the issue of seeking representation post-self publishing (See here: http://forums.nathanbransford.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=5087
, and here: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=5021
), so I don't want to rehash what was covered there, but ask a slightly different question on the same topic.
Let's say I have a friend who wrote a book, and for various reasons (like, just hypothetically, he didn't get a lot of interest from agents) he decided to self-publish it as an e-book. This guy had no dreams of indie superstardom. His book was a fairly low-key affair and didn't contain any alternate realities on far away planets or supernatural phantasmagorical plots involving the reanimated corpses of US presidents copulating with colonies of zombified Playboy models while machine-gunning hordes of bloodthirsty vampires that are converging on America in order to locate the ancient Mystery MacGuffin that holds the key to the survival of the human race (not that there's anything wrong with that). This guy was only hoping to sell a few copies a month, figuring the book was doing him more good sitting on a cyber shelf potentially
making money and being read, than sitting on his hard drive with the potential of doing neither.
My friend is not a marketing wiz, and those few monthly sales never materialize. Nor does any feedback on the book from the few who bought it or downloaded it on a free promotion. He considers the possible reasons for the poor performance: 1) Poor marketing; 2) The book is so brilliant that the people who have read it didn't get
it; or 3) The book really isn't any good. My friend is resilient, though, and plans to write other books that will surely be better. The question is: Is this low-performing self-published book a liability? How negatively will it reflect on him if and when the time comes that he finds an agent to represent future works? Is it worth it to leave this book out there in the ether on the chance that it might still take off, or should he un-publish it, forget it ever happened, and get to busting his hump writing more and better books?