It took guest blogger Heikki Hietala ten years to write his book and find a publisher. Here are a few of the lessons he learned.
My road to being published began 12 years ago, when I wrote Chapter I of a book I never thought I'd write. The next 10 years were full of perseverance, research, planning, ad hoc writing sessions whenever I had a free hour, and nagging self-doubt as I wondered if anyone would ever want to read me. As it turns out, I found a publisher willing to take the risk and print it, and now I've moved on to another. What did I do right during the trip?
One - I wrote what I myself wanted to write; I did not try to write what I thought someone else would want to read.
Two - I networked like crazy after I had a full manuscript, and that network paid off handsomely; not only did I get published, but I got the book edited too through the network.
And three - I never let go of the dream of a published version. The moment you let yourself think your book is not worth the effort, it becomes worthless. You must invest all your spare energy into it, and if your story is good, the book will be a good one too.
Another key, at least in my field of historical fiction, is research. One wrong plane type in my book would ruin the whole framework, but my editors spotted all the errors I made.