Is self-publishing my early work going to cost me later in my literary career? Does an agent perceive self-published work as a demerit?
I believe self-publishing is a better option than ever before—for unpublished writers as well as for previously published authors. So, no, I don’t think of it as a negative. But it won’t really help you find an agent unless your self-published book has garnered strong sales and/or good reviews. If you’ve self-published without much success, I probably wouldn’t mention it in your query letter when submitting a proposal for new work.