I admit I am a novice, but if I could offer up one shred of advice to aspiring authors like myself it would be network, network, NETWORK!! Get out of your comfort zone, ignore your mother's wishes and talk to strangers. Not the creepy guy on the subway in the trench coat, don't talk to him. As a matter of fact steer clear of him altogether. But get out there, meet new people and start making connections.
Between job hunting and trying to get published it seems all I do anymore is network. What amazes me is that in a day and age of technology and the ten million ways we now have to avoid face to face conversations with people the saying still holds true that it isn't what you know, but WHO you know. Putting myself out there on all sorts of networking sites I have met some interesting people with helpful tips. Progress is being made, even if it is at a snails pace.
I'll be honest, when I make connections I don't always use my best, most professional judgement. On Linkedin I connected with a Bavarian polka band and a guy that looks like a member of ZZ Top because I thought they were cool. Turns out the polka band had some helpful job leads to offer up! (The ZZ Top guy hasn't done anything more than bring a smile to my face when I look at his profile picture. Honestly if that's all he brings to the table it is still more than enough for me.) My point is you never know who has a connection or a lead that is going to help you out. And you will never know unless you try.
So go, talk to strangers and make connections. But don't run with scissors. Mom was totally right about that one.