From what I hear, the publishing business today seems to have all but locked out new, unpublished authors. Of course, that's a degree of hyperbole, but there is some truth in it. The path to publishing went from:
1) Send your manuscript to a publishing company and someone will look at it and respond; to
2) Send your manuscript to a publishing company and it will be thrown in the trash after an overworked, overwhelmed intern has read the first few paragraphs; to
3) Publishing companies won't accept unsolicited manuscripts, so send it to an agent who will look at it and respond to you; to
4) Send it to an agent who will throw it in the trash after reading the first few paragraphs if it's not exactly the genre, voice, and mood they're looking for that morning; to
5) Reputable, successful agents might look at your manuscript if you are lucky enough to know someone who can recommend you to them.
Again, perhaps a dash of hyperbole, but only a dash!