An interesting if somewhat discouraging quote from Jane Yolen's book Take Joy.
Know this about being published: it is out of your hands.
Even if you do everything you can think of to affect that outcome, you can not make an editor take your work.
You can go to conferences. You can take creative writing classes (though I have always wanted to see if it were possible to teach a course in non-creative writing!) You can read books about writing. You can set a work schedule on your computer and make a special place and space for your writing like my Aerie. You can travel to Yaddo and make friends there with performance artists. You can subscribe to PW and The Writer and Poets&Writers. You can get a BA, or an MFA or a PHD in Medieval Lit. You can work as a day laborer, having heard that it will ready you for writing the great American novel. Or you can work as a librarian, because someone tells you that is the way to learn to write children's books. You can walk around Lower Slobovia for a year, sail across the Atlantic in a water closet, become Arnold Swartzenegger's personal amanuensis, have intercourse with bug-eyed aliens, manage to marry a mass murderer or to murder a mass marrier. Or get thrown off the jury at the next OJ retrial. You can even--God help us--sleep with an editor. It does not--alas-- guarantee a thing.
Even though this information is a bit discouraging it is also freeing. It reminds me that I have the liberty to write what I want to write without worrying about whether an editor will consider my book to be publishable material. This is out of my hands, what is in my hands is a pencil ready to write.