Go check out Beth Cato’s essay “ACME Anvils and the Long Unicorn Ride to Publication” on Chuck Wendig’s blog. You’ll be glad you did.
When you’re a writer, it’s all about trading up to a better set of problems. You start out just wanting the time and/or brain power to write. Then you want to be published–validated–in any kind of way. And published again. If you’re a novelist going the traditional route, acquiring an agent is the first big goal. And when you get that agent, it’s like you’ve been handed the reins to a sparkly unicorn who will take you to magical realms where chocolate has no calories and all your publication dreams will come true.
My own journey started at a timid crawl. I trunked several novels and then worked for years on an urban fantasy about a healer. I did several from-scratch rewrites. I LOVED that book. After all that labor, I had two agents offer me representation. I had a sparkling unicorn at last! I was off to the land of book contracts and purring fuzzy kittens.
No one talks about the ugly truth: that even with an agent, a lot of first novels don’t sell.