Thank you for the post. I am an author with a finished book looking for an agent. But first, I have to rewrite the outline that one agent was kind enough to tell me sucked (and wasn't in the same league with the query letter). Maybe I am looking for traditional publishing because I want that validation. Maybe because it looks like traditional publishing might offer some help in marketing the book. Maybe I'd just like enough money from this to make up my expenses (so far, besides supplies, that would be $342 for proofreading, which was the friends and family price) and pay off the credit card. You, at least, are not afraid to tell me the truth about renumeration. The self-published among my critique group are not so forthcoming. (Me? If I never make a cent, I'll still be fine.)
I'm not really sure what "your outline sucked" means. I've never criticized anybody's outline. Usually if the outline has been requested, we just read it to make sure that the book doesn't go on any wild tangents that weren't mentioned in the query and end up destroying the book, which happens more than you'd think (a lot of people don't know how to end a book). Outlines are there to just go point to point to point. But other people must feel differently.
Look, if you want to be published traditionally, go for it. You probably won't make a lot of money, but they'll do a really good copyediting and layout job, they'll give you some publicity, and you'll be more than just handsales. Your cover won't be unbelievably terrible. And you'll have status. Not a lot, but more than unsuccessful (and most self-published writers are unsuccessful) self-published writers do. The industry exists for a reason. Walking into a bookstore and seeing your book on the shelf is something has no real comparison.
But if every agent you query to rejects your book, and I'm talking about more than 40 agents at least, there's probably a problem with the book.