(The previous tip discussed the need for patience since your masterpiece may get stuck in a slush pile.)
Well, how the heck do you DO it (get published), then?
Thing Five: A mentor helps. S/he should be someone already experienced in the business, firmly established (hopefully as an author) and willing to take on a protégé. S/he is the "somebody you know," your entrée into the business, acting as your reviewer, your advisor, your agent, your friend, and your shoulder to cry on when an editor says your beloved baby is a pile of horse manure. (Tidbit Five-A: Editors do sometimes say this. Or words to that effect. You haven't lived until an editor has informed you that he hates your intro, hates your conclusion, and everything in between needs to be totally re-written.)
What your mentor can do is to point you in new directions, and tell you if and when someone is trying to take advantage of you. Sometimes your mentor even becomes a co-author, and then it’s really fun.