There are proponents of traditional publishing (Big Five) and proponents of Indie publishing and proponents of small publishers.
I rarely read the views of any writer who hasn't taken a side.
As both a bookstore owner and a writer, and as someone who has been traditionally published and published by small publishers and published Indie (that is, by myself), I've been open to all possibilities, without closing the door on any of them. I've now been published by 8 different publishers (!)
2 publishers were/are traditional, and 6 were/are smaller, independent publishers.
But the data is starting to accumulate and I think I can come to some conclusions.
First of all, there is no doubt that smaller publishers are better for me than having no publishers at all, despite the fact I have to share the revenues. I'm not great at self-promotion. I never will be--because I have no intention of doing that. So a small publisher garners better results than anything I can do by myself. The smaller publishers have been responsible for getting some of my books in audio form, as well as in manuscript form. I've gotten a Bookbub out of it. I've gotten editing and covers without me having to pay for it.
Secondly, I still publish occasionally by myself--short stories, especially--and I may someday put out some books under a penname that don't quite fit the "Duncan McGeary" moniker.
I would very much encourage anyone who wants to write a book to take self-publishing seriously. It's not like the old vanity press. Ebooks cost nothing at all, if you can do the cover and editing. Even physical books only cost the paper and ink for however many copies you want to do. I highly recommend it.
But since I've already embarked down the road with small publishers, that's the direction I'll continue to pursue.
Third: That leaves traditional publishers. Almost any imprint you can think of is owned by five different corporations--or if not owned, they distribute.
I kinda still wanted that to happen. So when one of them approached me, I spent a few years trying to write a book he might like. He finally took one, but as a ghostwritten book. That is, my manuscript would come out under another writer's name. This author inhabits the Top Ten bestseller lists almost every week I check. The advance was pretty good.
But that's not why I sold the book. The editor more or less implied that if I wrote a good book in the thriller genre he would publish it under my own name.
I sent him 3 different books and never got so much as an answer.
The first was "Deadfall Ridge," which I rather thought passed muster. The second book was one I haven't released yet--"Takeover." The third book was "Shadows over Summer House" (which admittedly turned a little supernatural halfway through as I realized that the editor wasn't serious about publishing me.)
Meanwhile, the ghostwritten book sits there year after year with nothing happening.
So that's it. No more attempts at traditional publishing. No attempts at an agent (pretty much a prerequisite if you want to be traditionally published.)
Now there are tons of reasons I could talk about--the lack of timeliness, the lack of control, the giving the rights away forever...all that--but I'll give you the main reason.
At a minimum, a little bit of communication would have been nice.