What's the worst possible thing that could happen if you did this?
I have a friend (how many of your blog entries start this way?) who is self-published. She has several (nine) books out, and they've done fair to middling, as best I can tell. I don't know how to tell precisely how well they've sold, but they're in the mid-hundreds in their categories on Amazon.
She read one of my manuscripts ages ago before she started self-publishing, and, to get quickly to the point, she wants to publish my manuscript.
She has never published anything for anyone else.
My gut says this is a bad idea. But on the other hand, the manuscript in question doesn't fit easily on the shelf - it's a tough shop. She's willing to take on the publishing and marketing costs. And she wants 50/50 profits.
My question for the blog is this: regardless of details (who gets what, etc.), this doesn't fit easily into traditional or self-publishing. With a manuscript that is likely never to see the light of day otherwise, can I still shoot myself in the foot with traditional publishers on other projects in other genres by doing this?
In other words, is this as horrible an idea as I think it might be?
The book will tank and you'll be very disappointed.
Publishers won't care if you've published something else. If you wanted them to publish the book that tanked that's when things might get dicey.
And you're not a debut, but hell, we'll work around that if we have to.
Bottom line: You will have a published book with sales numbers.
This will be a good thing if the book sells well.
Will the book sell well?
You've already said it's a tough sell. Yes it's harder to find an agent than it is to find a reader. But, you need ONE agent. You need 10,000 readers.
The alternative is of course to publish under a pseudonym and never mention it when you query for your other books.
Of course, you didn't ask what I thought about the idea of being a guinea pig for someone's first effort at running a publishing company. I will say
You would be ceding control of your intellectual property to someone who has limited publishing experience. And NO experience selling books other than through retail channels. You're essentially signing up for self-publishing with no control and half the money. Weigh that against the very lovely idea of your book reaching readers.
There is no wrong choice here. You won't kill your career no matter what you choose or how hard that book might crash and burn.