In our worst panicky moments, we all consider the easy way out. :) Authors are no exception. Right now, to consider self-publication would be equivalent to erasing the exciting challenge of the hunt for an agent and publisher. I want to live in the glamour of future success, a nice fad that I can retire on, and someone else to handle some of the marketing.
I think it would feel good to have a mock-up novel in my hand, but I'd prefer the professionally selected and published one. After all, if your story is good enough, and well written, then it'll be something the publishers will take a chance producing. I wouldn't want to self-publish until it was a last resort-- but what would that say about the quality of my story???
It reminds me of American Idol-- "I can sing, judge! My momma and friends tell me I sound good!"
In writing as in singing, Momma and your friends may really like your work, or they just want you to shut up about it. My mother and friends mostly like the now-sequel novel I wrote. They gave me some good feedback that led to a great deal of editing. And once I finished editing, I realized that I needed a new Volume One to make the story better. With each step I take toward my goal, I realize that it takes more than a few professional opinions to market my work and myself, and a whole lot more work than everyone thinks!
I have been rejected by so many agents! I actually got to the next step-- "Send us x number of pages so we'll know if we want to represent you." And when that one didn't pan out, I realized that the ideas and concepts were good, but writing or story structure was not up to snuff. Hence, the aforementioned gutting and re-editing, and new volume one.
It's fuel to the fire and an experiment in figuring out the right combination of things that make the package perfect. So, as long as I think my work is worthy for mass distribution in a hard/soft cover deal, I'll find an agent or publisher. If my resolve comes crashing down, I'll resort to self publication.
I may still get the mock up from Lulu.com to bolster my self-esteem. Just a thought!