One of the realities of the music industry is that you can't rely on anyone else's imagination to fill in any recording quality deficiencies. As some would say, you almost have to spoon feed your song to the listener.
Consider this scenario: you have written a great song and used GarageBand or your cell phone to record a rough work tape. You march into a publisher's office and tell them you've created the best thing since sliced bread. They turn the speakers up, hit "play", then hit "stop" 30 seconds in. They didn't even make it to the chorus. Instead, they take out your CD and pop in a song from another writer that they're excited about. What comes through the speakers may sound better to the ears, due to the fact that the song was recorded well in ProTools or Logic. But deep down you know that your song was better than the one the publisher enjoys listening to.
How do you avoid a scenario like the one above, where a worse song gets attention because it sounds better? Focus on getting a great, clean home recording. If you track even just a piano/guitar and vocal well, you could even use those recordings as the foundation for a full-band track.
If you're interested in taking the next step in setting up your home studio, I would highly recommend picking up a copy of Mike Senior's Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio. It has helped me take very practical steps in improving my own setup, and I'm sure you would benefit as well.
Would you or someone you know like to go on a songwriting retreat with industry professionals? Visit SongbirdCamp.com for more details!