At a recent conference, I took a class called 'The Business behind getting your book published'. It was taught by Tanya Dean, executive editor at Darby Creek Publishing. There were some items that I thought would be obvious to potential published authors, but here's the low down.
1. Always, always read the publishing house's submission guidelines.
2. Now, always, always follow those guidelines.
3. Know what types of books they are in the business of publishing. Finding the right house to submit your work to is paramount. You want to maximize the chances by sending your work to a house that actually publishes that genre of book.
4. Have a good idea of the recent books that house has put on the market.
5. Do a book search on Amazon.com or bn.com (Barnes & Noble) to learn how many other books similar to yours have already been published. One fellow writer indicated that she did the search and found a published book similar to hers, however; it had gotten terrible reviews. She felt she could do better. On the flip side, another woman I spoke with did a search on Amazon and found a book very similar to hers and it was very popular. She decided she needed to find a different spin to the story.
6. Always, always send a SASE (self addressed stamped envelope) especially when mailing queries to smaller publishing houses or agents. Many of them do not have the budget to pay for the additional postage, so they may not contact the writer for a story they may be interesting in reading , if there's not a SASE.
The main theme here is do your homework before you submit anything to an agent or publishing house.