Now that I had written a decent-sized novel and told the story that I wanted to tell, what do I do with it?
Send it to a publisher, of course. That was a rude awakening! They don't want unknown authors. If they respond at all, it's a very polite, "No thanks" if you're lucky, and worse if you aren't.
BUT... there are ways. Self-publishing is one option, but it will cost you. There are "Print-on Demand" publishers who will get your book into print for no fee, and as soon as its done, they usually list it on on-line sites like Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.
But then the real work comes in. You suddenly discover that the rest is up to you! After the editing, spell-checking, having friends read it, doing the page proofs, working with cover design, adding bios and a short synopsis, acknowledgement and dedication pages, you discover that now, after all this work... someone is expected to do the...
Marketing—and that will be in the next installment.