Writers should really be provided with an accurate road map when beginning this crazy journey to publication. Seriously, that would make it all so much easier. A map that says begin here at point A writing said story which when completed you will submit to Publisher A. If Publisher A accepts remain on course for Plan A.
If Publisher A rejects they would direct the author to the next best route for their project. Said author, revises or not according to instruction, and then goes back to their map and follows the new route to the next publisher and so it goes. Each step a clear route on the map.
No wait that would be utopia and this is the real world. In the real world one struggles through learning craft and writing story after story that is published or not. And eventually you may find a substitute for said map, an agent, but not before you've spent many, many hours and learned much of the process for yourself.
But first, to succeed you must enter no man's land. It's a dark brooding place filled with highs and lows, hopes and dreams, excitement and bouts of disappointment that dive you into moments of darkness where you threaten to never write again. Don't go there - writing takes the darkness away every time.
And there is no map. I'm sorry to say, it's a jungle out there. You can plot a course but it is only guesswork whether or not you'll arrive at your destination in one piece or whether your story is sturdy enough to make it to the end.
And that's why in a utopian world a map would be ideal especially as you first venture into the world offering your writing and fearing that it's about to become the sacrificial lamb at the alter of something bigger than you can quite comprehend. Wait, that's no fear, that's reality. If you're lucky you'll get no rejection, no scathing comments.
Maybe, maybe not. But every rejection draws its ounce of blood. After awhile you'll get callouses. If you've got a strong stomach and a huge dose of fortitude, you'll make it through the dark hours where eventually there's light.
But if you're a writer - do you really have a choice? So strap on that backpack, pick up the map you've outlined for yourself and write on. And whether you're a writer or not, appreciate the book you're reading just a little more as you consider its author's journey. I know I will.