Writing Advice. This is a companion piece, because I think writing and publishing are two different topics.
A quick recap -- My writing advice is simple: read a lot, write a lot.
My publishing advice is just as simple: Don't publish until you're ready.
In today's world there are a lot of choices when it comes to publishing. If you're a young writer, or a new writer, no matter your age, you know that better than anyone. They say this is a revolution...
If you're interested in publishing at all, you've probably landed here with a fair amount of knowledge. And, you'll probably be disappointed, because I really don't have anything original to say. Nor am I going to get into the traditional versus self-publishing war. There are other blogs and other writers out there who are better at that kind of thing than I am.
Choose the path that suits you the best, for what you want. The only right way is the way you choose. Either way can be mistake. Learn, adjust, move on, if it is. Each path has its own set of pitfalls and advantages--but before you jump into either arena, make sure that you're ready. If you're a writer, if you can't help yourself, if you can't stop--nothing will stop you. Failures and rejections are learning experiences.
If you choose the traditional publishing path, research agents and publishers, and present yourself in a professional manner. Don't send out a first draft, or in some cases a first novel. Learn your craft, and then learn the business of publishing so you can navigate it as successfully as possible. But write the best novel you can first, even if it takes more than one novel. It might take ten. Don't publish until you're ready.
Same goes for the self-publishing route. You have to learn the business--AFTER you write a great book. Don't throw a first draft out there just because you can. Know the difference between a first draft and a final manuscript. Hire a professional editor and a professional cover artist and a professional formatter, etc. Take the time to do it right. Not only are you a writer, but you're a publisher. Be ready to market (traditional writers have to do that, too), and everything else needed to give the reader a great experience reading your novel. A reader shouldn't be able to tell the difference from your novel and traditionally published novel. Don't publish until you're ready.
You can do both, or be a hybrid. Find your own way. Don't let anyone tell you that your way is the wrong way, or that you can't do something. What do they know? I told you, "Don't send out a first draft." Go ahead, try it if you want to. Maybe your first draft is someone else's tenth draft. What do I know? I'm just saying, if you publish when you're ready, when you've done all the work in the right way, then the chances are greater that you will find the audience for your work that you're looking for.
And if it doesn't work--you'll keep going, because nothing, or no one, can stop you.
Don't publish until you're ready.