Guest blogger Amy D. Shojai on research.Take time to research your topic but create a deadline so you don't lose yourself in that process. Authors need to know a LOT more about a particular subject but readers only need the tip of the iceberg for the story/plot to work for them. Probably the single most important thing an author can do to improve the chance for success is to hire an editor. No matter how experienced you are, or how wonderful your beta-readers might be (thanks Mom!), fresh eyes with savvy "writer-icity" will catch errors or highlight weaknesses and strengths in the work.
Amy is a certified animal behavior consultant with 23 books on pet care and behavior. The website at http://www.shojai.com/ has links to Twitter and her blog.