All struggling authors understand that the publishing industry is filled with rejection. It's a natural part of the process, but it doesn't have to mean never being published. A little research goes a long way, and new authors who arm themselves with a few key facts about the publishing process will find that knowledge is, in fact, power.
Edit, Edit, Edit
New authors should be certain that their work is comprehensively edited before submitting it. Nothing sinks a manuscript faster than grammatical errors. If you're uncertain about your grammatical prowess, consider seeking editing help. Go to friends, colleagues, or professional proofreaders for a second opinion and look for books like "Self Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print" by Renni Browne and Dave King.
Get an Agent
Most major publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts, so seek a reputable literary agent and query them. Agents are found online and by Yellow Page listings in cities where publishing is prominent. Also consider such yearly publications as the "2010 Guide to Literary Agents" by Chuck Sambuchino. Reputable agents will not ask for a fee, but are rather paid through commission on sales. If you don't get paid, neither do they, and once you've found and contracted with an agent, it's her job to sell you.
Consider Small Press
While large publishers won't accept unsolicited manuscripts, small presses do and so are often a springboard for new talent. Research your genre to determine who's publishing work comparable to yours and follow their guidelines. Small press publishers almost always have websites, so research them online, but also consider yearly publications like "2010 Writers Market" by Robert Lee Brewer. Remembering that small press is reputable, and respecting their guidelines can get you a foot in the door.
As traditional print media becomes more competitive, many authors are turning to self-publishing. For new authors, self-publishing provides opportunity. Understand that self-publishing requires an investment and is often met with a mixed reception. Only print with a reputable publisher and never pay for a service you don't need. Research the company online, read their forums when available, and learn whether they're an imprint of a larger company. CreateSpace, for example, is an imprint of Amazon.com. Finally, be sure they're not involved in scams or litigation, and ensure your book is published with quality materials by researching the publishing process.
Promotion is everything, and authors sink or swim by book promotion. A new author must make every effort to promote their work and make a positive impact on the community. Offer to hold readings at book stores. Consider using resources such as Twitter, Facebook and Digg to get the word out. Build a website, hold a contest, give away copies to book bloggers and engage your potential audience in a positive way.
Don't Give Up
Be persistent and have faith in your work, but be prepared for rejection, additional costs, and negative reviews. It's important to remember that editorial comments are meant to help you and taking them can often improve the quality of your work. Open yourself to constructive criticism and be willing to make changes where appropriate. Willingness to accept help and improve can make all the difference when whipping your work into publishing shape.