Perhaps the first question for a beginning writer should be what kind of book are you writing, and how do you want it to look?
A long article in the August 3rd New Yorker discusses "kindle" books , which are hand held devices that contain hundreds of books that the reader can call up very quickly. They are lighter in weight, and although the reviewer found the light gray background color, darker gray print, and illustrations disappointing, many readers like them, There are also ebooks,and other portable devices as well as cell phones for internet books.
Publishers are struggling and looking for blockbusters. Independent bookstores are closing, and even the chains are in trouble.
After this gloomy start, let me say that I have loved being a writer for over sixty years, and managed to weather all the changes that occurred. It took me ten years to get my first book published. That was because in the fifties nobody was writing realistic children's books about minority families, poor families (The family could be poor at the beginning but not at the end.) Also nobody died, parents were always right, and most people lived in the suburbs.
Everything changed in the sixties, and the book was published in 1964. There were no missteps. The sixties was a good time for writers. There was money for schools and libraries to buy books (which were the principal customers), and publishers treated writers as if they were deities. There were no computers in libraries or in homes where kids could spend time playing computer games, using Facebook etc.
Some of my friends who are having books published have to wait much longer periods than those of us who wrote in the 60's, 70's and 80's. The competition is much harder than it was once. I never had an agent , but nowadays I would recommend a beginning writer or maybe any writer to find one.
But however you decide, have courage. Writing is a great joy! Try to keep up with the times, talk to writers who publish, ask questions, bother publishers, and most important, write!