It somehow doesn’t quite work that way. Agents and publishers already have a stable full of known talent with proven track records that keep them busy. And they have an infinite amount of choice clogging the pipelines, bombarding them each and every day, every week, month after month, year after year. The chance of interesting an agent: the preferred and often only way to approach publishers, is exceedingly slim. Unless you happen to be a celebrity, or have the luck to click with the right person, who just happens to need a new client, in whatever genre the writer and agent share a common interest, at exactly the right time.
A tall order when agents admit to rejecting 99.9 percent of all work submitted by unrequested query introduction.
The alternative option is self publishing an eBook and listing it on the many eBook sites willing to offer it for sale, for sizable commissions ranging from 35 - 70%. Many writers, especially those who were on the cutting edge of this eWave, have had success, and while it is without doubt worth exploring it is also worth noting that this is the route the majority of writers unable to interest an agent are taking.
One site recently visited listed 130,000 writers placing books with them, many of whom have multiple listings. The numbers are staggering and promotion on these sites are just the same as at a bookstore; all the known authors are front and center and that lovingly produced work that was listed in the expectation of discovery is buried and consigned to a dimly lit back room where a search warrant is required to find it.
The lack of visibility and realization producing competition for attention and recognition quickly follows. Works that have taken months or years to produce are given away at very low prices, and often for free in the hope that much needed interest will be generated.
The reality is that many readers simply download all the free works offered and spend months working their way through them only to download another batch of free offerings when the need arises. Everything has value. Giving something away at no cost in the hope, rather than the expectation and promise of some form of compensation is questionable, encourages others to follow in order to compete, and that course of action is ultimately harmful to the entire community of writers.
When was the last time a baker handed out entire cakes as samples, a dentist filled a cavity for nothing, or a lawyer prepared a legal document all in the vague hope that the recipient would recognize the value and return when the same can be had from every other baker, dentist and lawyer down the street? They wouldn't and don't; they provide samples, or consultations and that's it.
Two or three sample chapters are enough for decisions to be made on the style of writing, and whether the prospective buyer is interested, or not. If it’s purchased and liked and judged to be worthwhile it is reasonable to assume future success will result. Giving away thousands of copies of an entire book just doesn’t make sense, and the people who picked it up certainly won't be buying it.