I'm going to post what my idea of the steps to get published traditionally would be. I'm speaking solely about traditional publishing here, not self-publishing, although some of the same steps would happen.
1. Come up with an idea. Got one? Great.
2. Outline your novel
2a. If you're more ambitious just start writing it!
3. Are you writing it now? Cool, keep writing it.
4. Got to a dragging part? Hmm...well depending on what kind of writer you are you can:
a. Give up and go back to number 1.
b. Push through it even if it sucks.
c. Work on it and hammer it out until you're happy with it.
5. But wait! I just got a better idea. Noooooooooooooo. Write it down and keep moving.
6. Finished! Yay!
7. Oh wait. Not finished. Editing time.
8. Bang head on keyboard several times.
9. Edit, edit, edit.
10. Edit more.
11. Seriously, keep editing.
12. OK, it's as good as it's going to get. Chill out and quit editing!
13. Got a beta reader or a crit partner? Let them read it.
14. They have some suggestions, some good, some you don't agree with. Use the suggestions you like and see if you can get it to work.
15. Is it awesome now? No...well, you want to edit again? No?
16. Stare at the wall.
17. Oh, wait...it IS awesome! Time to submit!
18. Ugh, there's like 900,000 places to submit. What should you do...
a. Go for an agent and one of the big publishers.
b. Go the unsolicited route and directly query.
c. Try a small press.
19. Write a query letter for your proposed novel. Make sure it looks really good. Include a cover letter and follow the guidelines. Don't send bribes! They don't help!
22. So what do you do now?
23. Forget your novel. It's out there in the ether now.
24. Novel? What novel? Ah, yes you are learning.
25. Go back to step 1. Repeat the process.
26. Months go by, what seems like an eternity. But wait! You got a response! They want to publish your book! Woo hoo! You are super duper awesome! Exclamation points! Smilies!
27. Negotiate a contract. Use your agent or hire a lawyer to help you figure these things out.
28. Work with editors on any final changes you need to do before publication.
29. Lots of publishing industry details. Cover art, promotion, marketing, schedule book signings, social networking.
30. You get the book in your hand. You shed a single tear. Everything may or may not worked out the way you exactly wanted, but you have your shiny new book in hand.
31. Early reviews come out. Most reviews are positive but some guys didn't like it. Oh well. You have some good reviews behind you. You're ready to unleash it on the world!
32. Release date!
33. Are you still working on your second book? Yeah? OK, good just checking.
34. Book sells pretty well. You're not a millionaire, but you're finally making some money off your books.
35. Prop your feet up on your desk and bask in the glory.
So this is a rough and tumble way I imagine a successful publication venture would go. So yeah, I understand most novels don't get to some of these steps, but just go with me here. Of course it won't necessarily move this smoothly for everyone, but this would be a pretty good scenario.
Anything anyone wants to add or comment on? Which parts of this scenario seem entirely unrealistic? Which parts do you worry about the most as a writer?