As y'all know, I have *some* experience with this publishing gig, on several levels, so I wrote up a summary, a quickie guideline...
What do writers new to the publishing 'Verse need to do?
1) Write the best book you can, have it beta'd, then professionally edited, hire someone to do an eye-catching cover if you are going indie. If you are going the agent route, you don't need the book cover, instead substitute: a killer logline, a killer pitch, a killer blurb, a killer synopsis and a killer knowledge of the market and how *you* fit in.
2) Build a platform: I do not recommend a shotgun blast. If you *like* to blog and you have interests other than writing, good. It you can craft good tweets, excellent. If you have a FB presence that allows people to *communicate*, *interact*, *share* and *support* others, very nice. Find one or two things you LIKE and have TIME to do.
3) Be prepared for a long haul, minimum of three years (if you are serious about the process)
4) And this is the most important: HONE YOUR CRAFT... How? Simple: write the next book. And then the next. And the one after that. You *will* make mistakes, you *will* experiment, you *will* fail but you *will* learn.
5) Be professional. This is your job. Do not whine, complain, trash other writers, bemoan the sad state of your life, your # of FB likes, your novel rank or lack thereof. If you are a professional, you *will* find mentors, you will find *fans*. Give back. Share.
And go write the next book.