I get asked one question a lot, especially from fellow writers:
What did I wish I knew about writing when I first started out?
And there's a lot of different answers for this--because I knew nothing, and there's a lot of things I really wish I had known. Some things are basic: don't query too early, get a crit partner, do your research before you send queries, learn how to format a manuscript. Some are more complicated, things like how to pace, how to plan a story arc, how to create interesting characters.
But if there was one thing that I wish I had known before started this whole thing, it is simply this:
It is unreasonable to expect your first manuscript to be published.
Sure, it happens. But honestly, you shouldn't expect it. I wish I'd known this--and believed it--before I even started to try to seek publication.
Here's the thing. You don't expect an artist to sell his first painting for a million bucks. You don't expect a singer to get a record deal based on one song. And while yes, it does happen, you shouldn't expect it.
But if I had learned that lesson, I think I'd add another lesson at the end of it.
Treat every manuscript like The One.
Because yeah, not all of my early manuscripts were worthwhile. But I believed they were--and I put in the work on them. I edited, revised, rewrote. And that's what taught me to get better. If I'd known the manuscripts I wrote before would never sell, I wouldn't have worked so hard on them. And if I'd not worked so hard on them, I never would have gotten better.