As a relatively new author, I have spent hundreds of hours on the internet, reading magazine and newspaper articles, talking with other authors on Skype and author forums in an attempt to understand how the publishing industry works. By doing so I imagined this would help me with the process required to bring my work to the attention of a mainstream publishing house and secure that lucrative book deal we all aspire to.
I now know that I have no idea how to do this, but I am consoled by the fact that no one else seems to either. There is no magic formula that will get your book taken up by a publising house or an agent, it's all a question of individual taste, the popular theme or trend that is selling at the time and whether or not the acquisitions editor is in a receptive mood that day.
One thing I heard which completely depressed me, was an interview with a multi-published historical fiction author who said she has to employ a professional firm of publicists to promote her work because her publisher does not spend resources on promotion. This fee takes up a chunk of her royalties, and more of it is spent on travelling and researching her next book.
Wasn't there a time when, once a publisher takes you into their 'stable' of authors, in exchange for a large chunk of the royalties on each sale, they provide you with an editor, arrange to get bookshops to stock and display the book, their publicity department issues press releases and organises book signings, tours and interviews? This may still be true if your name is Grisham, Cornwell or Follett, but this particular author does not appear to benefit from these services, and her last book was released with several spelling mistakes and typos.
And the name of that publisher? Are you kidding! They might be about to announce they are offering me a three book deal any moment - Does that make me the 'w' word? -Probably.