The publishing business is a crowded market. Everyone's either looking for the next Harry Potter/Fifty Shades, or trying to write it. When the book of your heart is finished, here are three tips that will help your work get noticed.
1: Give Them What They Want.
Know your audience. Write first to please yourself, but if you want to entertain others as well, make sure you tailor your work to their likes and dislikes. Check out author guidelines, like the ones produced by romance publishers Mills and Boon. http://www.millsandboon.co.uk/.Read the sort of books you want to write. Popular authors get to be that way because they know what readers like, and expect.
2: Keep It Clean!
This has got nothing to do with sex - the level of heat you're happy with is up to you. When you're showcasing your manuscript to agents or publishers, first impressions count. They can make or mar a reader's experience of a text. While William Shakespeare would still have been a genius if he'd scratched ogham with a stick on unnumbered wax tablets, his texts would have been chucked straight in the midden without a second glance. He knew how to present his work. Times have changed, but some basic facts remain the same. If an editor's got a dozen manuscripts to read, the ones presented in the commonly accepted, easily readable fashion are going to be dealt with first. It's human nature to assume that if a writer can't be bothered to make an effort with presentation, their ratty text might not be worth reading. It you're sending off a paper version of your manuscript, make sure the lines are double spaced, and printed in an easily-read font (Times New Roman 12 point is a good one) in black on only one side of white paper. Always include a front sheet with title, word count and all your contact details. Type "The End" in the appropriate place, so the editor or beta-reader isn't left wondering, and add your details again. That's it - no fancy bindings, Gothic script or coloured ink. Clean and clear. If you are sending a submission by email, make sure you know whether your contact wants attachments, or samples in the body of your message. If you use a Mac, make sure you supply your text as a Word document too, just in case. And always, always keep copies.
3: Aim Carefully.
Times have changed. In the Seventeenth century, the only people who wrote fiction were geniuses and people with time on their hands, and there weren't many of either. These days, it seems like everyone wants to be a writer. With the world population now around 7 billion, that's an awful lot of competition. Whether you go down the route of getting an agent or going straight to a publisher, make sure you choose carefully. Research firms and individuals via the Internet, or an up-to-date specialist publication such as The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook. Don't send your steamy sex-saga to a publisher who only deals in children's books, for a start! Make sure you send off exactly what is asked for, too - no more, and no less. If your book isn't finished, tell them so, and how long it will take you to complete it.
Finally - good luck!