There’s a thousand things I wish someone would have told me before I started. Heres a few:
1. Get used to rejection, and don’t let it discourage you. I read somewhere that Gone with the Wind got rejected 132 times before it was accepted. My first novel was rejected over 100 times before it got published, then my first 3 reviews were 5 stars, so even though the first 100 didn’t see the value, it only took one to give it a shot.
2. Find 3 or 4 people you trust that will be brutally honest and have them read your manuscripts. If they don’t return it full of blood, they’re not being honest, so try someone else. I went through 7 or 8 people before I found 3 that beat me senseless. ANd I never explain why they didn’t get it. If they have a problem, chances are so will other readers/publishers.
3. Set your stuff assign for an extended period (like 2 or 3 months). You’d be amazed how things pop out at you once you get away from it.
4. Learn the classic hang ups and no-no’s that editors/publishers hate. For example, at least for me: POV switches, passive vs active, show don’t tell, etc. It took me a long long time before the bulb finally went off and now I account for these things naturally (or I should say, more naturally) in my writing.
5. Learn how to invoke the five senses.
Theres a ton more. Visit the blogs and forums and you’ll learn a lot. I write for one with 15 other authors (Thewritersvineyard.com) where half of my post deal with lessons learned. Search for others web sources that do the same.
One more thing. I read several books on writing, but only one helped me significantly. I think it was called “The complete book of Novel writing” or “on fiction writing”. It was an accumulations of the lessons learned from well known authors. I’d give the exact title, but I loaned it out, and its never returned.