This comic was partially based on this conversation I had, in which a strange person told me that I would be more likely to get an agent if I put my book up for sale in PDF form through my website. (I seem to have managed to sign with an agent without doing that, y’all.) For the record, folks, most agents and publishers are not out looking to discover authors. They want you to come to them. With a book you haven’t already put on the Internet.
When you hear those stories about people getting discovered for their blogs and getting a book deal, it’s almost always nonfiction (a field in which Internet popularity and “buzz” DOES matter). When you hear about self-published books getting mainstream deals, they’ve sold an unusual number of copies (5,000 in six months gets their attention; 500 does not). The ones you hear about are exceptions. They’re lottery winners. They’re not an example by which to model your own career, because the likelihood of it happening to you is slim.
If your GOAL is a mainstream book deal, chances are much better for you if you query agents and keep the book you want to sell off the Internet!