And here's another example of "if you've got a good idea, it doesn't matter how it's published". As quoted from the Publishers Weekly article about the book, "A self-published children’s holiday book has become a bestseller at a major online retailer..." And from elsewhere in the article, "Sales growth has averaged 342% a year; first-year sales were a little over $100,000, and the company expects 2009 sales to approach $7 million." Bookstores are actually teaming up to meet the strict 12 book minimum, and there's now a waiting list for reorders. You've got to love it! And the most motivating part of all is: "Pitts said that when her family first wrote the book, a literary agent tried selling it to a major house but had no luck, so they decided to self-publish."
So guess what folks: write a good story, create a good product, and don't give up. You can do it!
Publishers Weekly Article: Elf on the Shelf's Sales Policy Works for B&N, But Not for All Independents
The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition