Fiction Writers go through a lifecycle that typically consists of:
Starting to write something, for fun or profit
Becoming hooked on writing, our own writing gives us pleasure
Writing a novel or short story
Showing it round to people, and usually (these days) finding someone online to critique/enjoy it
Trying to sell your work to an agent or publisher
Getting your work published.
When I wrote my first novel back in October 2006 it felt like I had unexpectedly run a marathon. I didn't believe I could write novels and my attempts in my early teens were disastrous. My friends loved the book, I thought it was perfect and a work of genius and sent it off to a couple of publishers expecting them to fall at my feet. They didn't and politely rejected it.
I realised after a couple of weeks that it didn't read that well. I'm an analyst of sorts in real life and I realised that the words weren't put together very well. The story was brilliant (imho) and the narrative was fine but the rest was useless. But I so enjoyed the process of writing and the feedback from the twenty or so friends who read my work as I had written it on Myspace that I wanted to write more.
I decided to leave editing for later as the muse was with me and for the next two years (2007/2008) wrote 1.5 million words of novels, short stories etc, never going near a publisher. I knew my work wasn't ready to publish.
Then I found Authonomy. I selected a single novel (Shaddowdon) because I felt it was the most mainstream and saleable. Put it up here and began editing it and my other work. I edited something like eight novels between March 2009 and February 2010. I sent off a short story to a magazine which was rejected (because it was still crap and needed more editing). I did quite well on ABNA and eventually I pushed Shaddowdon to the editor's desk, because it was that or take it off the site.
Harper Collins liked Shaddowdon in its edited form and that gave me confidence that my writing technique was maturing enough to consider going to agents but I still wasn't sure. I rewrote Shaddowdon to the editors suggestions and that reminded me I liked writing more than editing, so I knocked out a sequel.
I had no urge to send off to agents though occasionally I stuck out the odd work (and which book I offered was pretty random) which was rejected. In my writing career you can count on two hands the total number of submissions I've made.
There are certain books I've written I like a lot. Anyway, I began editing them, this was typically the first or second edit and sticking the chapters up on facebook in my notes. I also contributed short stories to a couple of collections that got published and got involved in flash fiction competitions. The feedback from that was highly encouraging.
Wizards got published because a friend said to me said "This is great, you have to start sending it to agents." to which I replied. "The only way this is going to be published is if you sell it." The friend became my publisher.
Wizards was written about the time I joined Authonomy. It needed very little editing, unlike the earlier work. This surprised me as I thought I had learnt a lot on here, but probably not.
I asked Tim Roux of Night Publishing if he'd like to publish Hellogon and he kindly agreed. It needed a lot of editing, most of which took place before Tim saw it. I asked a friend with line editing skills to go through it and they did. I think it went through five major revisions, whereas the Wizards editing was no more than getting the spelling mistakes out and adjusting the commas.
Somewhere in all that Endaxi Press asked me if they could publish Shaddowdon, having read it on here. They are a perfect fit for the English nature of the book and I happily agreed. It should come out this year.
I've been in no rush to publish.
What I would say is, that you have to get some distance from your book before you can see its weaknesses. For me this takes at least three months away from it. I'm not sure sure I always got the narrative right in my early books and I do modify them significantly, but I'm still in love with the stories I wrote and I want to see all of them in print ....when they're ready.