Lately I have been hard at work polishing up three of my novels. I have made use of all of the tools available to me and that includes people. The one thing that most author's forget about when writing is that the actual writing is only half of the work. Once you finish your great American novel; you then have to put extra work into editing, revising, and shopping it around.
Networking is something that is very important. I have been doing this by asking questions and participating in discussions on twitter with agents and other authors. The way that I see it is if the agent remembers you from questions that have been asked or discussions that have been had via the Internet; then you have networked.
Then of course there are workshops and conferences. I for one have been unable to attend any conferences; but I look forward to doing so in the future. They are a great way to introduce yourself to agents and you may even find the agent you have been looking for that will just love your book!
When I say working it! What I mean is that there are many ways to shop your book around. Let's face it; it takes money and time to get a book published. The problem is that most working authors aren't made of money and can't afford to pay the piper to get their work polished so it will be noticed.
The trick that I have learned to get past this is easily summed up in one word. CONTEST! Yes. That's what I said. Contest are great ways to have your work edited and/or critiqued for FREE. Below is just one great contest that does just such.
Another thing that I have learned that's a big money saver is having my trusted family members and friends read my work and give their opinions. Once you have done all you can do on your own or with contest then move towards using your wallet to finish making your work the best that it can be before you start the query process.
No matter what methods you use to get the word out on your novel/short story/fan fiction; just remember to make contacts and research everything. Use the resources around you and do the best that you possibly can to make your work be the best that it can be. And remember to just work it!