I actually went small house originally because I didn't like the way the big houses were treating their authors, or their customers. Ultimately along the way I learned that success is whatever you make of it, because nobody else is going to help you. Either you do it yourself, or you don't. So IMHO there's no shame in self publishing. Because it's not whether you get in the door or not. It's what you do once you're out there in the wild. I've talked with plenty of authors who got accepted by big publishing house only to have their book pigeonholed for 2-4 years, then kicked out, never having been printed.
So just because you get accepted by a big house doesn't mean you'll get published, and even then it doesn't mean you'll be successful or popular. It's like getting your drivers license. Great, now you're legal to drive. So what do you plan to do with it? Just because you've got that shiny little square of plastic doesn't mean you're going to use it or even get in the car and go somewhere. That's the same idea with publishing. So to me, big deal if you get through the slush pile at the big houses. Short of them doing a huge advertising blitz on you (99% of books at the big houses are never marketed at all, period.) the chances of defeating the 100 book barrier are pretty nill.
Yet via my own hard work and marketing I'm about to cross the 1000 book mark. Okay, yes, I'm not a Dan Brown sales wise, but nearly everyone whose read my books love them. So to me that's success. Ultimately it comes down to, just because someone bought it doesn't mean they loved it, and if they don't love it, we've failed as authors.