I'm going to ask some difficult questions. For any advice to work, you'll need to be perfectly, bluntly honest with yourself. You don't have to answer to me, just that face you look at every day in the mirror.
Let's start off with your ultimate goal in writing. Is your goal simply getting one book published? Is it making a living at writing? Or is it landing on the NYT Bestseller list?
Ask yourself what you really want out of writing. If you're perfectly happy writing Buffy fan fic, then good for you! (No, I'm not being sarcastic.) You know what you want which means you're already ahead of the curve.
Do you look at writing as an artistic or commercial endeavor? Again, be honest.
Now, it's my turn to be brutally honest. If you expect to make any money, it can't be just an artistic endeavor for you. The cold, hard truth is publising companies are looking to make money. They are businesses; it's what they do. Therefore, you have to deliver a product they believe they can sell.
My ultimate goal is to make a sufficient living at writing fiction that I can keep a roof over my head and food on the table should something happen to my husband. (Okay, my real ultimate goal is to write the Uncanny X-Men. Shhh. Don't tell my mother.)
Tomorrow, we'll talk about breaking down the ultimate goal into smaller components.