Steps to getting published---
It sounds so simple, but yet, so deceptive....the FIRST step to getting your book published [and the most important] is.....
FINISH THAT BOOK!!!!!!!!!!
I have to be honest--- I have had maybe 20 to 30 people ask me for advice on getting their novel published, and out of those, only 3 have actually finished their novel.
True, finishing a novel (or any type of writing of any length) is a daunting process. However, I have found that it is significantly cheaper than therapy :) The point is, you cannot simply get something published unless it is finished. And not only finished, but finished and in pretty good shape.
So remember these three things to finishing your novel:
1) It's a marathon, not a sprint.
2) You will have to rewrite.
3) Just finish it.
REMEMBER-- Sprinters need not apply.
If you find that overwhelming, just realize that all books are composed of chapters, all chapters are more or less, several different "scenes" or short stories compiled into one. Break it down. If the entire project is overwhelming, just try to do a few short scenes.
Writing a novel utilizes the same philosophy that it does in eating an elephant. How do you do it? One bite at a time. (DISCLAIMER: before anyone calls PETA on me, this is just an expression. I'm not REALLY advocating eating elephants.)
When you're working on a novel, realize that this is a marathon. Not a sprint. Nothing worthwhile in life is easy. If you want to get instant gratification from finishing a project, then write short stories, flash fiction, poetry...not a novel.
Other writing tips that I swear by
Look at the books you enjoy reading and ask yourself why you enjoy reading them? Is it the characters? The setting? Also, examine HOW the author managed to create these characters and the story--is he/she more descriptive or more action oriented?
2) Write, write, write, write
Write a lot. Even if you don't feel your first efforts are very good. Then rewrite. Then write some more.
3) Send it off
If the Great American Novel is sitting in your desk drawer, it's never going to get published.
4) Don't take rejection personally
I think ALL writers have had several rejections before they got published. Don't let it discourage you.
5) Remember: it's not a sprint. It's a marathon.
6) [to be credited to one of my old journalism professors who will remain nameless] JUST TELL THE DAMN STORY