I was glad that I bought the book "The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published" because one of the many bits of advice given was to get involved with a writer's club or association. I looked up a couple in the Wichita area and that's how I learned more about the Kansas Writer's Association.
From there, I learned about their informal meetings on Monday nights, at which I brought a few pages from my first novel. There, I got some good advice about the things I was doing well and the areas in which I needed improvement.
After talking with a few people there, I concluded that my first book is not yet ready to submit to agents, meaning I will have to do some rewrites again. And this round of rewrites may take a little longer.
I believe it will be worth it, though. It's all about ensuring that the book I submit to agents is one that they will generate at least some interest, rather than a pass after the first few pages.
In the meantime, one of the association members agreed to look over my first book draft to see what ideas work for her, where my strengths lie and what needs the most work.
I am continuing to jot down ideas as they come to me, though. I've read in many places that the best thing you can do with any book idea is to keep writing or typing ideas, and then go back to look at them.
In the meantime, I may have to seek out Stephen King's memoir "On Writing" as that was a book that several KWA members recommended.
So a thanks to Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Steery for helpful advice in their book, which led to the advice from the KWA members. Now I have better ideas about what to do next.
(Side note: I did make slight revisions to the page about my planned book. It will be updated as changes and progress are made.)