Writing a story is like raising a child.
At first it grows inside you, whether you planned on it or not. Eventually, you have to get it out of you. Getting the story out is a long and painful process. Sometimes it just ends in tears. I have lots and lots of one page attempts at stories that will never be finished. These are my miscarriages.
But push and push and push, and you'll have a rough draft. What started out as a glimmer in your eye is now your baby. You can't quite send it off into the world yet. You have to groom it and mold it through editing. You either have to hire an editor or entrust it to friends and family. Trust the wrong friend with your baby and you'll see him on Pirate Bay.
But with enough care and love, your brain child will become a readable manuscript. You might keep adding to it, but at some point you need to get it to leave the house. Submitting it to a publisher is like trying to get it accepted into college. There are the Big 6 publishers, which are like Ivy League schools. A Big 6 publisher tends to care more about who the author is, rather than the story itself. An Ivy League school cares more about who your dad is more than who you are. It's great to try to get into these storied institutions, but it's like trying to join a country club without the right connections.
There are independent publishers, which are like community colleges. At least your baby is going somewhere, even if it isn't very far.
And then there is self-publishing. Self-publishing is like online courses. Anybody can attempt it, but very few can succeed. It's the absolute last option. You are always going to try one of the above options before settling for this. Just don't get suckered into paying out the nose for it.
Vanity presses are like the Trump University of publishers. Don't even go there.
My first novel was just too special and unique to get accepted into a prestigious institution. It's as ready for the real world as it will ever get. So I sent it out onto that notorious website appropriately named after a famous jungle. Let's hope it makes a lot of friends along the way.