John, I read an article somewhere about the pain you went through trying to get your novel published.
I think you're pretty much a case study for why I wanted to start supporting independent authors. Much is said about publishers being the gatekeepers, but I quickly grew more suspicious about what they were preventing me from reading than I was grateful for what they were protecting me from.
Since I've moved my reading to 50%+ independent, I believe I was correct to be suspicious and I simply don't trust publishers to be any kind of gatekeeper.
I still have a high respect for editing services of course - but they can be acquired with or without a publisher.